Parched skin does not have to be your fate in winter, or any time of year. Follow these expert tips to soothe cracked, irritated skin.
Your skin is dry. It may be itchy. It may sting. It’s uncomfortable. And it may look dull, too. What is going on? Dry skin is essentially skin with low water content. This usually is associated with disruption of the skin barrier, which means cracks between skin cells, loss of hydration, and in severe cases, inflammation of the skin.
Ultimately, your dermis — the layer of skin responsible for making oil — may be parched for a variety of reasons. That includes genes; a cold, dry climate (such as in the fall and winter); overcleansing; or using harsh skin-care ingredients… some of those things are easier to address than others. So, while you may not be able to do a thing about your DNA, you can tweak your skincare routine and practice healthy lifestyle habits for well-nourished skin. Here’s what you need to do to keep skin hydrated.
Lukewarm Water When You Shower
There’s almost nothing better than a hot shower on a chilly day. But skin does not love it. Extended exposure to water, especially hot water, can strip the skin of essential oils that protect the skin barrier. Best to keep your shower lukewarm and get out and towel off after 10 minutes.
Switch To A Gentle Liquid Soap
This advice applies to your whole body because your skin can go dry from head to toe. Despite the fact that you might like a squeaky-clean feeling, using a liquid antibacterial body wash or cleanser is going to be too harsh. These strip the skin of lipids (natural fats) and begin to break down its water-binding barrier. On your body, use a gentle liquid soap and keep it only to sweaty areas, like armpits, groin, and butt.
Get A Moisturiser That Works For You
You can buy the best moisturiser around and you still might not get the full benefits from it. When products are applied on dry skin, they are not absorbed as well. That means you may not be getting the full benefit from your topicals or may find that dryness remains despite a diligent moisturiSing habit. For dry skin or during the winter, adding a hyaluronic acid product to your routine can keep skin better hydrated.
It’s a good idea to stay hydrated by drinking water and eating foods with high water content like fruit and vegetables. Yet when it comes to skin, swigging water alone won’t help. It’s a myth that you need to drink eight glasses of water to maintain hydrated skin. It might only help if you walk around dehydrated. People who have low water consumption may find increasing H2O boosts skin hydration slightly. However, this is based on “weak” evidence. Drink up, but know it’s no silver bullet.
Wear an SPF
Just because it’s colder does not mean that the sun won’t do a number on your skin. Sun-damaged skin is not as healthy and anyone with sun-damaged skin will complain of dry skin. That’s why you should apply a moisturizer or sunscreen with at least SPF 30 before you leave the house every morning.
Humidity Inside Your Home
Warm indoor air from heating units is low in humidity which will steal moisture from your skin. And while you might have a humidifier already attached to your HVAC system at home, what’s most helpful is also running a portable humidifier in your room while you sleep. In-room humidifiers directly put steam into the air, delivering an extra amount of moisture into your room while you are sleeping at night which has been found to be soothing for the skin.
Tweak Your Skin-Care Routine
Retinoids are vitamin A derivatives that boost collagen production to smooth fine lines and wrinkles, but many people find that they also lead to side effects like dryness and peeling. Those problems can be exacerbated in the winter. If you’re currently using a prescription retinoid and it’s causing these side effects, make a few tweaks to your routine: Apply it every other night and use a pea-sized amount only. Slather your moisturiser on top, or consider moisturising before applying the retinoid. If those things don’t help, you may want to step down to an over-the-counter and lower-strength version, which is called a retinol.
It can be a tough problem to solve on your own, and this is where talking to your dermatologist comes in. Your skincare doctor can help you figure out a plan to keep your skin looking healthy and hydrated, no matter your age.