8 Ways To Banish Dry Winter Skin, Once And For All

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A woman with dry skin in the winter, posing with her head slightly leaned back
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It’s no secret that dry skin sucks. You know, that tight itchy feeling, flakes that appear out of nowhere, and rough patches? Not fun. As the temperature drops in winter, so does the moisture level in our skin, leaving our bodies ultra dehydrated. And while you may be spending less time outdoors and more time indoors mastering your quarantine self-care routine, dry heat from thermostats can exacerbate the risks of redness and dryness. Rest assured, however, our moisturizing remedies will ensure that no ash shall be formed against you. Ahead, these expert tips for fighting dry skin in the winter will have you radiant, smooth, and glowing faster than ever.

“During the colder seasons, our skin is under a double attack,” Dr. Michelle Henry, a board-certified dermatologist of Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York, tells TZR. "Typically when you go outside, dry cold air leeches the moisture from our skin. And when you’re warming up indoors, the air from dry heat is also sucking the moisture. So essentially your body is getting compromised on two fronts.” Colder environments make it easier for the moisture that our skin holds to evaporate and that’s why using skin care that locks in moisture is key.

How To Cure Dry Skin In The Winter: Moisturize with Rich Creams & Butters

In the winter, transition from lighter lotions to heavy, thicker creams. “Lotions have higher water content and they’re not going to be able to lock in the moisture efficiently like creams do,” Henry says. Look for ingredients such as hyaluronic acid to add into your routine for additional moisture benefits. Hyaluronic acid, also known as the the “moisture molecule," holds 1,000 times its weight in water and acts like a sponge that retains the water in your skin, according to Healthline.

Ceramides, another must-have ingredient for winter skin care, are critical, too. “They’re natural lipids in our skin that hold in water and keep skin feeling hydrated and soft, she adds.

How To Cure Dry Skin In The Winter: Use A Humidifier

Indoor heating is super dehydrating. That’s why dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD, of Manhattan Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery recommends using a humidifier in the winter to all of her patients. “The optimal level of humidity is 40 to 60%, which helps to support skin barrier function and reduce transdermal water loss by adding clean moisture back into the air all day and night long," Engelman says. “I love the new Canopy Humidifier, a mist-free humidifier that is anti-mold and super easy to maintain.”

How To Cure Dry Skin In The Winter: Skip Hot Showers

As relaxing as they may be, hot showers can dry out the skin and disrupt the lipid layer that seals moisture. "Hot water causes damage to the outermost layer of the skin, and as these cells are disrupted, the skin dries out and is unable to lock in moisture as well as it should," explains Engelman. Alternating back and forth between cold and hot temperatures makes the first layer of skin more vulnerable and as a result, more dry. Yikes. To prevent stripping your skin, take showers at a lukewarm temp for under 10 to 15 minutes, and use a gentle, hydrating body wash with nourishing ingredients for happy, healthy skin.

How To Cure Dry Skin In Winter: Exfoliate

Exfoliating is crucial to maintaining healthy, radiant skin. By nature, your skin sheds dead cells every 28 days. However, when you’re slathering on heavier products in the winter this slows down the process, making it even more important to buff away those dead layers of skin. Exfoliating not only makes skin softer, but ensures that all of the good ingredients you’re investing in actually penetrate the skin. Don’t go too crazy though — your body may be more sensitive and prone to irritation due to external dryness, so pace yourself. Start off exfoliating once or twice a week and increase as tolerated.

How To Cure Dry Skin In Winter: Layer With Oil

If you’re not layering your creams with oils are you even moisturized? To be clear, oil on dry skin does nothing — it will get shiny, but functionally not do much for you. The most important thing is to apply a moisturizer and body oil as soon as you get out of the shower or bath on slightly damp skin. “Personally, I love to use the Augustinus Bader Body Oil, which contains vitamin E, moisturizing argan, nourishing olive fruit oil, and squalane to moisturize the skin and lock the hydration in," Engelman tells me. Alternately, you can skip the cream and just use a body oil — but only as long as your skin is still moist. Coconut oil is lightweight, has antimicrobial properties, and works wonders for dry skin.

How To Cure Dry Skin In Winter: Pack Hand Creams

With constant washing and sanitizer application due to the pandemic, our hands are drier than ever. Cure ashy hands with emulsifying creams that provide relief on the go. Chanel's La Crème lives rent free in my head thanks to its Instagram-worthy packaging and blend of hydrating botanicals that ward off premature aging.

How To Cure Dry Skin In Winter: Mask Away

Newsflash: sheet masks aren’t only for your face. Daily texting, typing, and driving coupled with hand washing wreak havoc on your hands and quickly deplete moisture. Treat your skin to a hydrating hand mask in addition to using hand creams. For a quick pick me up, pop on oil-infused Patchology Self-Warming Hand + Cuticle Mask. It's easy to use and renews dry skin in minutes.

How To Cure Dry Skin In Winter: Drink More Water

Ask any skin care expert and they’ll tell you the secret to plump, healthy looking skin is H2O. “There's not a dermatologist out there who will tell you hydrating isn't important, because hydration is a critical function of skin health,” Engelman shares. Plus, when skin is dehydrated, it actually creates more oil to make up for the missing water which can then lead to exacerbation of acne, irritation, and dry patches. Up your water intake and aim for eight glasses a day for optimal hydration.

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