Do you have dry skin? Dry skin lacks moisture, natural oils and may have a weakened surface barrier. It often feels tight, itchy and uncomfortable and can flake or even crack. Cold temperatures and not using the right skincare products can exacerbate dryness and make fine lines and wrinkles more noticeable.
Here, we’ll discuss top tips from Dr. Hope Mitchell, a board-certified dermatologist based in Ohio, to help you maintain a hydrated glow from head to toe, all winter long.
Why is Dry Skin Common During Winter?
In short, “The cold, dry temperatures and decreased humidity,” says Dr. Mitchell. “To top it off, your skin loses its ability to hold moisture and the water in your skin evaporates quickly, leaving it anything but smooth, soft or hydrated.” Dr. Mitchell continues, “Besides the winter weather, there are additional factors that contribute to this dreaded dryness. Indoor heating (which can also dry out the mucous membranes in your eyes, nose, lips and mouth), frequent hand washing, taking long hot showers or baths, using harsh soaps and being physically dehydrated.”
To beat the winter blues, we tapped Dr. Mitchell for her top 8 lifestyle tips to help your skin look and feel its best:
- Take short showers over baths (less than 10 minutes) with warm rather than hot water and a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser. Patting the skin dry is better than rubbing or harsh toweling.
- Apply moisturizers immediately after bathing while your skin is still moist. The best moisturizers for dry skin combine a humectant with an emollient to prevent loss of water and restore skin hydration. If your skin is scaly, consider an exfoliant such as Glycolic Acid, an Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA), or a gentle Polyhydroxy Acid (PHA) to smooth the skin, enhance turnover and regenerate the skin’s surface appearance.
- Use a humidifier to add much-needed moisture to the air and help prevent your skin from drying out.
- Avoid common irritants. Deodorant soaps, alcohol-based toners and products that contain fragrance (including laundry detergents) can irritate dry, sensitive skin.
- Choose fabrics that are kind to your skin. Dry skin is especially sensitive to contact irritants which can worsen itching and redness. Natural fibers, such as cotton and silk, allow your skin to breathe.
- Alter your diet. Eat a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients! Fatty acids (healthy fats) like those found in fish, walnuts, olives and avocados can help to restore essential lipids which maintain moisture levels in the skin. Drink water throughout the day to help keep your body and your skin healthy and hydrated. Alter your diet. “Don’t underestimate the value of water!” adds Dr. Mitchell.
- Wear sunscreen every day. Choose a sunscreen for everyday use as part of your skincare regimen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or above and broad spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays. If you plan to be outdoors for an extended period of time, apply an additional sunscreen with water and sweat resistant properties.
- Keep lifestyle habits in check. Lack of sleep, stress, too much alcohol and smoking can all have detrimental effects on your skin causing dryness and premature aging. “When you sleep, your skin heals, recovers, repairs and improves because it is not fighting the sun or free radicals from the environment. During sleep there is a more consistent blood flow and product absorption; however, the skin is more permeable also, causing one to lose moisture. A nightly skincare routine should impart plenty of moisture to compensate for water loss. I highly recommend applying a cream at night with Hyaluronic Acid such as Hyaluronic Luminous Lift, which features 3 sizes of Hyaluronic Acid to boost hydration.” Dr Mitchell says.
Best Moisturizers for Dry Skin
Did you know the skin’s outermost layer, the stratum corneum, has a water content of 10% to 30% under normal conditions? Signs and symptoms of dry skin become apparent when its water content falls below 10%. Moisturization is essential to restoring and maintaining skin health.
Moisturizers should be gentle, fragrance-free, and non-comedogenic, especially if you have dry, sensitive skin. The best moisturizers for dry skin have a combination of moisturizing ingredients that prevent water loss and restore skin hydration. Moisturizers for calloused or scaly skin often contain AHAs to deliver enhanced exfoliation to smooth rough skin.
Below, a few skincare recommendations that are designed to treat dry winter skin by helping to remove rough, dead skin (without stripping it) with either Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) or Polyhydroxy Acids (PHA).
For Face and Body
Bionic Face Cream provides intense hydration and helps soothe and revitalize the look of stressed skin. It’s also non-comedogenic and fragrance free – ideal for dry, sensitive skin. “I like this moisturizer because it helps with hydration and texture while helping soothe and comfort,” Says Dr. Mitchell.
Bionic Lotion helps fortify face and body with a high strength 15% Polyhydroxy Acid (PHA) blend, attracting and binding moisture to the skin. Formulated to gently exfoliate, smoothing rough, dry skin while providing restorative antioxidants to help protect against environmental factors. “This product is ideal for those with dry, sensitive or reactive skin, but those with normal, dehydrated skin could also benefit from using this product,” Dr. Mitchell notes.
Lotion Plus is a high strength yet lightweight lotion formulated with 15% Glycolic Acid to help relieve roughness, dryness and scaling, smooths skin’s surface and enhance clarity for face and body. “Glycolic Acid is my go-to ingredient to achieve glowing skin.” Dr. Mitchell recommends.
For Problem Dry Skin
Problem Dry Skin Cream contains high strength Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) and Polyhydroxy Acids (PHAs) to exfoliate with beeswax, skin conditioning oils and Vitamin E to reduce skin roughness on contact. “This formula is highly emollient and ideal for severely dry, rough and thickened skin on the knees, elbows and heels,” Dr. Mitchell advises.
For what else causes dry skin, as well as a regimen for dry, sensitive skin, checkout the What Causes Dry Skin article.
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- Guenther L, et al. Pathway to Dry Skin Prevention and Treatment. Journal of cutaneous medicine and surgery. 16. 23-31. 10.2310/7750.2011.10104.
- Dry skin. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/dry-sweaty-skin/dry-skin#causes
- Dermatologists' top tips for relieving dry skin. https://www.aad.org/public/skin-hair-nails/skin-care/dry-skin
- Dry skin. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-skin/symptoms-causes/dxc-20248892
- Dry skin – American Skin Association. https://www.americanskin.orgresource/dryskin.php
- Itchy, Scratchy Skin: Preventing and Managing Xerosis https://www.pharmacytimes.com/publications/issue/2013/ june2013/itchy-scratchy-skin-preventing-and-managing-xerosis