Dry skin in the winter or the “winter itch” can affect all of us. It can range from the occasional itchiness in bed to outright cracks in the skin.
Dry skin happens when there isn’t enough water in the top layer of the skin properly. Stripping your skin of oils makes this situation worse, since water that would normally stay in the skin is allowed to escape.
While it might not be pretty and definitely isn’t comfortable, winter skin dryness can be easy to solve with a little extra attention and a few simple steps for healthy, glowing skin year round.
Here are seven ways to stop the itch and fight winter skin dryness!
When fighting winter skin dryness, hot water isn’t your friend.
Hot water can feel glorious after a cold day but it’s the worst for keeping your skin healthy. Long hot showers more than once a day dries out your skin, causing inflammation and redness. If your skin turns red after a shower, it’s too hot.
Your skin is naturally made up of water, fatty acids and lipids amongst other things and when this top layer is stripped, it opens the door to all sorts of skin issues, including dryness, accelerated water loss and infection.
Instead, skip the hot showers or baths and stick to warm water less frequently. This is easier on the outer layer of your skin so it’s able to do what it does naturally, and protect you from the elements.
When fighting winter skin dryness, humidifiers are your friend.
When the temps drop, typically so does the amount of moisture in the air around you. Couple that with forced air and it makes things even worse.
Humidifiers help keep things a little more humid by forcing moisture into the air. This means that even a bedside humidifier while you sleep has a number of benefits for your skin, including keeping winter skin dryness at bay.
Similar to avoiding hot showers, more humidity helps stop moisture loss from your skin and keeps the natural moisture barrier of the skin working properly. Not only does this help with dryness but also with issues like acne, psoriasis and eczema. Your skin knows what to do naturally, we just need to get out of its way sometimes, and making sure there’s enough moisture helps.
Don’t forget to take care of your hands.
We often focus on the face… (we DO make facial serums) but the same principles apply to hands too. Since our hands are so hard working, a little extra TLC can go a long way to keeping winter skin dryness away.
This includes being careful when you wash your hands. Avoid hot water for the same reasons above, and don’t use soap that is too harsh or stripping either. This removes the natural oils that keep water in your skin.
Also, when drying your hands after washing, make sure you dry your hands completely… don’t let them air dry. This will make dryness worse because the evaporation of water on your hands will speed up the loss of water from your skin.
Take the time to revisit your routine.
On that note, take the time to look at the products in your skin care routine and check for harsh ingredients that could be stripping your skin. This includes soaps, cleansers, toners, serums and moisturizers.
Also, take a quick look at what your products are supposed to do. If you’re suffering from winter skin dryness, take it easy with the physical or chemical exfoliation but don’t stop completely. After all, clear skin means that hydrating toners and oil-based serums can do their job and penetrate the skin easier.
This might be a little counterintuitive but take it easy with the mists as well. Using water-based toners and mists are great for adding hydration back into the skin, but only if you follow up quickly with an oil-based serum or moisturizer. This locks the moisture into the skin. Letting the toner or mist evaporate will make things worse by pulling what little water you have in your skin with it. This is why licking your lips when they’re dry makes it worse.
For the record, stay away from coconut oil and things like castor oil. While these ingredients can be great for removing makeup or growing eyelashes and brows, coconut oil can clog pores and castor oil is too astringent on its own for most skin types.
Lastly, because it can’t be said enough… make sure you’re still using sunscreen, even in winter.
Tackle it from the inside out too.
We are what we eat has never been more true than when it comes to skin. And making sure we get enough healthy fats in our diet helps keep our skin functioning properly. This means relieving dry skin from the inside out. Good fats in our diet translates to better functioning skin, which means it’s able to keep water in the skin more effectively. No more dry skin.
Winter comes with a whole host of problems all at once for our skin. The sunburn can be just as bad, if not worse, in winter. Couple that with wind burn and exposure to the cold and it’s no wonder that winter skin dryness is such an issue.
One of the best and easiest ways to combat this is to cover up when outside. Hats, scarves and gloves are all your friend, especially when outside for a long time.
Make the barrier even stronger by using hand cream, a balm or oil before you leave the house. A few extra drops of your favourite serum will definitely help when the temps dip. And make sure to add that moisture back in when your come back inside. Easiest way to do this is to do this is to use a water-based toner followed by your favourite oil-based moisturizer or serum to seal everything in.
Lastly, are you sure it’s dryness?
Lastly, dry skin can be symptom for something else or what you’re experiencing might not even be dry skin… If that’s the case the tips above might help, but won’t solve it. If all else fails, try seeing a specialist to get a handle on what could be wrong.
There are many reasons to hate winter, but winter skin dryness shouldn’t be one of them. For most of us, a few simple changes in our routine or product line up can make all the difference.
Save those long hot baths for special occasions, take it easy with stripping the skin, and make sure to add both oil and water back into the skin regularly to keep your skin glowing, healthy and happy all year round.