10 Steps to Combat Dry Skin in Winter

winter dry skinEven if you don’t normally suffer from dry skin, you may find that when the temperature and levels of humidity drop outside and harsh winds blow, your skin starts to suffer.

The lack of moisture outside and the increase in heating inside affect the skin’s natural lipid layer and you end up with dry winter skin if you don’t take special care to protect it.

Not to worry though, there is plenty you can do to help your skin through harsh winter conditions inside and out.

Follow this ten point plan for your face and body and your skin should stay soft and smooth right through the winter and beyond.

You’ll look great at all the holiday parties too!

How to Combat Dry Skin in Winter

The main thing you are trying to do is to seal in the moisture that is so easily lost in the drying conditions of winter. Here are the things you can do keep a barrier in place to defend your skin.


Use Moisturizer

Moisturizers help to rehydrate the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin) to make it more comfortable and they seal in the moisture.

The most effective moisturizers contain no water, for example, pure mineral oils and petroleum jelly (Vaseline) but they are not the most appealing products to use as they can give your skin a sticky feel and shiny appearance.

If you have a really dry patch though, such as you may get on elbows and knees, using one of these can help a lot especially if you use it on damp skin so that you are sealing in moisture.

Otherwise use any moisturizer that feels good on your skin and apply it as often as you need to in order to prevent your skin drying out.


Get a Humidifier

Water content of the epidermis tends to reflect the level of humidity around it. When you have the heating on at home, moisture levels can reduce to as little as 10% when healthy skin needs around 30% humidity or more to avoid drying out.

Combat this dry air indoors by adding moisture with a humidifier. Setting it to about 60% will help your skin a lot. Alternatively, if you have radiators or heat vents you can place bowls of water beside them to release water into the air or use house plants around the room to add to the moisture levels.


Limit Baths and Showers

Although you are surrounded by water when you bathe, a bath or shower can leech moisture from your skin rather than helping it.

Limit yourself to 5 or 10 minutes, so that your skin does not dry out, and keep the water as cool as you can – warm rather than hot to avoid breaking down the protective lipid barrier.

Use moisturizing body wash rather than drying soap and skip bubble baths, which can be extremely drying, and opt for a more moisturizing bath product. After bathing, pat yourself dry and use a rich moisturizer to replenish any moisture that was lost.

Choose moisturizing preparations such as Dove, Olay, and Basis, or consider soap-free cleansers like Cetaphil, Oilatum-AD, and Aquanil. Harvard Health


Prevent Dry Cracked Hands

Winter Dry Skin As You Get Older
Even if you had no problems before, dry skin can occur as you get older and gradually become worse if you don’t look after it.
Over 75% of people over age 64 have dry skin.
It is often caused by sun damage over the years resulting in thinner skin that can’t trap moisture so well. Natural lipid production also slows with age, especially in women after the menopause.
If you are having problems like this, you need to take special care where there are few sebaceous glands as this makes them particularly vulnerable. So make sure you moisturize your hands, arms, legs and upper back, which are the areas needing most help.
Source: What to do about dry skin in winter

Your hands can become especially dry in winter and you need to look after them to prevent dry cracked skin, which can be very painful.

Always wear gloves outdoors when it is cold, to protect them, and wear rubber gloves when using any kind of cleaning or laundry detergent.

Apply hand cream every time you wash your hands to keep them soft and smooth (and if you apply it before you put on gloves you’ll have lovely soft hands when you take them off).

Keep hand cream by each sink in your home and a travel-sized tube in your bag or pocket for when you’re out and about.


Moisturize Your Lips

Lips have no sweat or oil glands and so it is very easy for them to dry out especially in winter when they are exposed to harsh weather and overheated rooms.

You can use lip balm to protect them but many of the commercial balms especially those in a stick, actually dry lips out and you need more and more of the product to make your lips feel good.

Instead, use Vaseline as this is a very easy and cheap way to prevent your lips getting dry, and it now comes in pink in a little round tin so you can add a rosy color to your lips at the same time you protect them. Keep a tin in your pocket so you can use it at any time.

Whatever you do, don’t start licking your lips to moisten them, as that is the quickest way to dry them out and make them sore. Keep that little pot of Vaseline to hand so you can also make your lips more comfortable whenever they start to feel dry.


Dry Scalp

If your hair and scalp become dry, lock in moisture with deep conditioning treatments and hair masks.

Avoid high lather shampoos which, like bubble baths, are full of drying ingredients.

You will also benefit from a hot oil treatment for your hair and scalp. Learn how to give yourself a scalp massage to get most benefit from this.

Protect your head and hair with a hat or scarf when you go out in harsh weather.


Gentle Exfoliation

Moisturizer works best on newly exfoliated skin but don’t be too rough, especially if your skin is already feeling a bit delicate. It is best to start gently once or twice a week until your skin gets used to the process with a soft brush or gentle body and facial scrub products in the bath or shower and discontinue if this irritates your skin. For more information on exfoliation see How to Exfoliate For Clear Beautiful Skin.


Skip Toner

Although the ads have taught us that caring for our skin means a 3-step process of cleanse, tone and moisturize, that is not always necessary especially if you have dry skin. Toner can make things worse, if it is too astringent.

Above all, avoid using products that contain alcohol. Look for an alcohol-free toner or skip it altogether.

I prefer to get rid of any cleanser residue with warm water and a clean face cloth and you may prefer to do that too.


Eat Well

Make sure that you keep your skin nourished from the inside with the right food. See The Best Supplements, Food and Vitamins for Dry Skin for all you need to know about feeding your skin from the inside to prevent problems.


Join the Winter Dry Skin Pledge

Writer Amy Nadine over at The Beauty Department website is determined not to let her skin dry out this winter like previous years and has created a Winter Dry Skin Pledge. Here are the ten promises she has made to herself and the blogosphere

  1. Not allowing her scarf or coat collar to rub against her chin and cause chaffing.
  2. Taking warm instead of scolding hot showers. And not blowing the car heater onto her face, but using the vents on the floor boards instead.
  3. Every morning starting with a hyaluronic acid serum and following it with a moisturizing cream containing SPF.
  4. Refreshing her face during the day with a hydrating mist she’ll keep in her purse.
  5. Every evening no matter how tired she is, after washing her face, she’ll apply a deep moisturizing night cream.
  6. She will avoid harsh irritating facial scrubs and gently use a wash cloth to exfoliate.
  7. She will apply a moisturizing mask for 10 minutes once a week.
  8. She will keep renewing her lip balm numerous times every day.
  9. She will keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  10. She will wear SPF 50+ to protect against the sun when skiing/snowboarding and try not to let her coat collar massacre her chin like last year.

Make your own pledge with a list of things that work well for your own skin and make sure that your skin stays soft and dewy until spring too. See the Winter Skin Care pledge post for how you can follow Amy’s pledge too.

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