How To: Combat Dry Skin in the Winter

How to Combat Dry SkinAh, the seasons.  With summer comes the infinite obsession with the high dew point levels in the air as you pray that you make it into the office without the humidity giving you a shiny, greasy face.  With winter comes the incessant battle against the low dew point levels in the air as you pray that your skin isn’t turning a horrid shade of gray, or worse…ash.  Thanks to harsh winds and extreme temperature changes, your body’s ability to produce the sebum and lipids that keep your skin hydrated is reduced during the winter, and your skin literally dries out.

And if you’re really unlucky, your dry skin is accompanied by things like peeling and cracking, thanks to the weather exacerbating dermatitic skin conditions like eczema.  Indoor heating makes the situation even worse as the dry, hot air sucks any remaining moisture out of your skin.  After all of this, you may think that it’s nearly impossible to combat winter dry skin, but that’s not true.  There are things you can do to make sure that your skin’s supple glow makes it through the winter unscathed.


Moisturize, and then moisturize some more, and then…

…moisturize some more!  This cannot be understated.  The lovely, light “oil of essence” or whatever it is you use in summertime is not going to work as well in the winter.

If you normally use a water-based moisturizer, and you continue use it in winter, it is the perfect way to end up with dreaded “ashy” skin.  In winter, choose moisturizers that’s oil based instead, preferably in cream form.  Creams are better at combating dry, ashy skin than oils are.  Oil-based cream moisturizers will literally create a protective seal on the skin that will protect you from extreme cold and dry heat.  They may not be the preferred option at other times of year, but petrolatum based products are often used during the winter to treat the most severe cases of dry skin due to their staying power on the skin.

Choose lotions that contain ceramides.  Ceramides are naturally occurring lipids in your skin’s outer layer that help it retain moisture.  Low ceramide levels in your skin mean that your skin is more vulnerable to drying out.  Lotions enriched with with these lipids can help replenish their levels in your skin, resulting in softer, more moisturized skin that is protected from wind and cold.

Many people love shea butter for its ability to give them rich, supple skin in even the harshest weather conditions.  Many people use it on the face as well, although some people feel it clogs their facial pores.  You be the judge.  Extra-virgin coconut oil is another great, natural skin moisturizer that can do wonders in the cold winter months by keeping the skin supple and soft.  Many night creams are oil based, so in a pinch, you can use those.

Make sure your moisturizer has ingredients that help keep your skin dewy.  Humectants are ingredients that draw moisture into your skin and keep it there.  Some people also make their own winter moisturizers, or enhance their current ones with the ingredients mention above.

Get a humidifier

Remember that point above about indoor heat drying out your skin?  Heating units suck the moisture out of the air, leaving you with dry, itchy skin.  A humidifier can help remedy that.  Humidifiers will help infuse the air in your home with moisture, keeping your skin hydrated and helping you breathe better as well. Make sure you purchase one with a hygrometer, which measures the amount of moisture in the air and keeps it at a healthy range.  Depending on the size of your home, you may have to get more than one to place in different rooms.

Water can be bad for your skin…

…Too much hot water from steaming hot baths or showers, that is.  Nothing can take the glow out of your skin like those ultra-luxe, steamy hot baths or showers that can feel so good after a day spent battling the urban tundra.  But, like many things that feel so good, too much of it can make you look so bad.  Hot water is a skin killer in the winter as it sucks all of the moisture and oils out of your skin, leaving it itchy and dry.  Take shorter-length warm water baths, and add oatmeal or baking soda to the mix.  These ingredients in the bath water can soothe itchy skin.  Try to limit your hot baths to once in a while, and if you do take them, follow up with intense, creamy moisturizers while your skin is still damp.  Harsh soaps are also culprits, so bathe with creamy moisturizing body washes and soaps.

As far as drinking water is concerned, drink it because it’s good for you, but it probably won’t help with dry skin.  Many doctor’s doubt that drinking water combats dry skin, but it does help your body function optimally and clear it of impurities resulting in clearer skin, so drink up anyway.

Quiet the dogs

Not little Boo Boo the Pomeranian, but those crusty appendages at the bottom of your legs.  They whine for extra attention in the wintertime, and you need to give it to them or you’ll be left with scaly, tight, itchy ashy feet covered in dead skin.  Use a loofah to scrub off the offending skin cells and follow up with a super rich and thick moisturizing cream, preferably one that has an exfoliant in it.  The moisturizers will  be able to sink into your skin a lot better.

If you find that none of the above tips are helping, it may mean that it’s time to seek out the services of a dermatologist.  Severe dry skin ailments like any type of dermatitis may require medical intervention.  Over-the-counter solutions may offer some temporary relief of dry skin symptoms, but long-term relief will probably need prescription strength cortisone treatments.


The Basics of Softer Skin

10 Winter Skin Care Tips: Banish Dry Skin

Skin Care for Dry Skin

Author: Sakai Blue

Sakai Blue is a UK-born, New York-based writer with an extensive background in TV and advertising. She writes and produces television promos, and writes beauty, health, home design and finance articles for various online sites. She can always be found with her Macbook Pro in hand, and her Final Cut Pro running.

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1 Comment

  1. I was most appreciative of the information given in this article…I am one of many that suffers with dry skin( especially in the winter )and now I have a much better idea as to how to combat it. Thank’s !!!

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