Raise your hand if your skin feels tight and uncomfortable after showering. Is your hand up? Yeah, mine too. And what about flakes and itchiness? Are those annoyances you're putting up with as well? Thought so. Welcome to the season of dry skin, and you're experiencing all of its un-pleasantries. But, it doesn't have to be that way. With the help of skin-saving dermatologists Dr. Arielle Kauvar, Dr. Dennis Gross and Dr. Alex A. Khadavi, we'll get to the bottom of your winter skin issues, and share handy tips on how to rescue your skin from dryness.
Why skin becomes dry in the winter:
Before we can solve any problem we first have to know what's causing it. According to Gross, "Skin produces less oil in the winter due to the absence of sun light and heat…resulting in dry skin." And, "there is less humidity in winter air…[which] causes moisture to evaporate off our skin," he says.
But, it's not just our environment that's to blame. "Bathing too frequently with hot water and harsh soaps," says Kauvar, are also common dry skin culprits.
When combined, the factors listed above are responsible for irritating our skin barrier. And, when "the skin barrier becomes perturbed, we need to aggressively moisturize to help get it back into shape," says Khadavi. Here's how to do that…
Top 10 tips for soothing dry skin from head to toe:
Tip 1: Look for quality moisturizers. They should contain "humectants (ingredients that draw water in like glycerin, hyaluronic acid) and emollients which are oils and lipids (like mineral oil, shea butter and ceramides) that seal the moisture in and help keep a protective barrier on the surface of the skin," says Kauvar. Try Aveeno Skin Relief Moisturizing Lotion.
Tip 2: After showering, "keep the bathroom door closed to preserve the steam. Gently towel dry your body and apply moisturizer to skin that is saturated," says Gross.
Tip 3: "Avoid long hot showers and baths which cause skin to dehydrate," says Kauvar. And, "use a creamy cleanser instead of a harsh soap," she says. Try Kiehl's Crème de Corps Nurturing Body Washing Cream.
Tip 4: "Put moisturizer on the skin before you shower, it will shield the skin from drying up," says Khadavi. Post showering, pat your skin dry and reapply.
Tip 5: Use "lip balms mixed with gentle exfoliators to remove the dry skin," says Gross. They will keep lips hydrated, he says. Try Ole Henriksen African Red Tea Exfoliating Lip Salvation.
Tip 6: If you're prone to dry, chapped hands, "avoid using alcohol-based antibacterial hand sanitizers that dry out the skin," says Kauvar. And, "always apply a generous amount of moisturizer immediately after washing hands," she adds.
Tip 7: If you have really dry areas, put moisturizer on those spots and wrap your skin with Saran wrap before bed. Leave it on overnight. This will recreate a barrier that will allow your body to repair itself, says Khadavi. Sounds weird, but it works!
Tip 8: To ditch flakes, skin should be "gently exfoliated ([use a] microdermabrasion brush, bead scrub), and a moisturizer should be applied immediately after exfoliation," says Kauvar.
Tip 9: For thick, dry skin on areas like your elbows and knees, use salicylic or lactic acid-infused products. "Thicker skin generally needs a chemical exfoliant," says Khadavi. Try Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Daily Body Peel.
Tip 10: If your face feels dry, but is breakout prone, soothe your skin with a "moisturizer that is labeled oil free. These lotions increase the water content of skin without adding extra oil, so they won’t aggravate or cause acne. Start by applying the moisturizer once a day and then trade up to twice daily if you need it," says Gross. Try Garnier Moisture Rescue Refreshing Gel-Cream.