Most people notice their complexion gets drier in cooler weather. Cold air, cold temperatures, lower humidity, or winter wind can strip the skin of moisture. These conditions can leave your skin feeling itchy and uncomfortable.
The good news is that we have tips and remedies to help you address dry skin. But first, let's explore some causes of dry skin so that you can prevent it from occurring.
What causes dry skin in winter?
Cold temperature and low humidity create dry air pulling moisture out of the body. A combination of cold winter wind or damp interior temperatures will cause more damage to the skin, resulting in cracks or even bleeding.
Skin barrier damage can be especially problematic for existing dry skin conditions like acne, redness, dermatitis, and eczema.
And while hot showers might seem like an excellent way to warm up in winter, they can cause moisture loss, exacerbating your dry skin. Indoor heat also contributes to dry skin, as the heat can cause the air to become even more dehydrated.
Dry winter skin remedies
The good news is that your skin doesn't have to suffer just because it's freezing outside.
Here are some simple and easy things to do to combat dry skin all winter long. And before you can say "April showers bring May flowers," it will be spring again.
1. Don't take super-hot (or long) showers.
On a chilly day, nothing sounds better than a long, hot shower or bath to warm you up. However, hot water can lead to transepidermal water loss (TEWL), which is a fancy way of saying your skin's protective barrier has been damaged, allowing moisture to evaporate.
Losing moisture leads to dehydrated, dry, and irritated skin. Instead, try to take shorter showers with warm or, if you can tolerate it, lukewarm water. Lowering the water temperature will help minimize the moisture loss from your skin.
And after your shower or lukewarm bath, be sure to pat skin dry with a soft towel to avoid damaging your skin barrier.
2. Avoid harsh facial skin cleansers
Use a gentle, non-soap cleanser to avoid drying out your skin. Faces washes with harsh soaps and detergents can strip natural oils and moisture from your skin. Instead, choose a mild soap-free cleanser that will help to preserve your skin's natural moisture barrier.
3. Exfoliate in moderation
When dead skin cells build up, they can cause dullness, dryness, and clogged pores that lead to breakouts. Gentle exfoliation can remove the dry skin buildup that makes skin feel rough. Smooth, exfoliated skin can also better absorb the hydration from your moisturizer, making you skin less dry and your fine lines less visible.
The key to removing dead cells on severely dry skin is to use a gentle exfoliator with lactic acid once (or twice) a week as part of your skin care regimen. The lactic acid will loosen the dead cells and allow you to wash them away without harming your protective layer.
Furthermore, steer clear of harsh exfoliating scrubs during winter months so that you don't damage your skin or hinder your moisture barrier function.
4. Stay hydrated
If you're wondering how to hydrate skin naturally, then look at what's in your cup. Strive to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. If possible, increase your intake to up to 10 glasses. Eating foods with high water content (think fruits and veggies) can also help you stay hydrated from the inside out.
Proper hydration helps your body flush chemicals and toxins from your system. When your body stays hydrated, it exhibits better circulation and blood flow; this ensures that your skin gets the vital nutrients it needs for a healthy glow.
Staying hydrated can also help keep your cells stay healthy and vibrant.
5. Protect Your Skin Barrier
One of the best ways to help your skin is to protect it from the sun's harmful rays, even in the winter months. Use sunscreen every day, regardless of the time of year.
The sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation can damage skin cells and cause premature aging and even skin cancer. Less skin might be exposed during the colder months, but your skin still needs to be protected.
6. Apply Moisturizer Daily
Relieving dry skin means keeping your skin both hydrated and moisturized. That means using a face cream and body moisturizer daily. No matter your skin type, take steps to ensure your winter skin care routine does both to treat dry skin and maintain your skin health.
Wait? Don't all moisturizers hydrate and moisturize?
- Skin hydration refers to the water content within your skin cells that leads them to be plump and bouncy (so they better reflect light and help your skin glow). Moisturizers with hydrating ingredients include Hyaluronic Acid and Glycerin. These ingredients are humectants, which means they attract moisture to the outermost layer of skin. Hyaluronic acid also strengthens the natural defenses of your skin barrier, which helps keep it healthy.
- A moisturizing cream seals in moisture and builds the skin's protective barrier. So a moisturizer or cream will have occlusive ingredients to trap moisture water and prevent water loss. This keeps the top layer of your moisture barrier healthy.
Squalane is a beneficial emollient because it helps keep skin hydrated and moisturized. It is easily absorbed, preventing moisture from escaping the skin.
7. Use a thicker moisturizer in the winter
Choose a heavier moisturizing lotion or thicker body cream than what you typically apply during the summer months to hold more moisture in.
Find a moisturizer that says it is good for dry skin, like our Comforting Cream, which nourishes and restores dry skin for 24-hour hydration. Don't forget to apply your night cream in the evening as well.
For those with sensitive skin conditions like redness and eczema, applying moisturizer after showering or hand washing is a must to help prevent skin barrier damage and itchy skin.
8. Don't forget your hands
Your hands are one of the first places on your body to show signs of aging. The skin on your hands is thin and delicate, making it susceptible to dryness and skin that feels rough.
Between the low temps, frequent handwashing, and washing dishes, your hands can feel the brunt of Jack Frost's wintery temps. To keep your hands looking and feeling good, you need to take care of them by using a good hand cream and keeping them hydrated and moisturized.
Wear gloves to avoid exposing your hands to the sun and other harsh elements as much as possible. Consider using rubber gloves when exposing them to hot water or harsh chemicals.
9. Remember Your Lips, Too
Did you know your lips don't have oil glands to help them stay hydrated and moisturized? That means they're more prone to drying out without a lip balm or lip moisturizer, especially in extreme weather conditions.
That's why it is so common to experience dry and chapped lips after being outside on a winter day. Using a lip balm can help protect your lips from the elements and keep them looking and feeling soft and smooth.
10. Humidify your home
Consider using a humidifier in your home since indoor heat dries out the air. Adding a humidifier to your home is a simple way to raise your humidity levels and protect your skin from the drying effects of the season.
A humidifier can help to add moisture back into the air, which can improve your skin's health and help reduce dryness and itchiness. It can also help the skin's barrier maintain hydration and help the skin breathe.
11. Wear Fabrics that are Dry Skin Friendly
Finding clothing that feels good and comfortable against your dry winter skin can be a challenge. Look for natural and lightweight fabrics such as linen, cotton, and muslin; these are gentle on the skin. Try to avoid wearing irritating fabrics such as flannel and wool, as they can aggravate symptoms of winter itch.
Winter Doesn't Have to Mean Dry Skin
Winter weather can be tough on the skin. But with a few simple tips, you can keep your complexion looking its best so you can wear a big, banana smile despite the cold.
Start by using a moisturizing cream or natural oils to help seal in hydration and protect your skin from the cold air. Make sure to drink plenty of water and avoid excessive heat exposure.
And if you do experience dryness, try one of the remedies we've suggested. By following these tips, you'll be able to keep your skin healthy and happy all winter long!