Dry skin may be a problem you face any time of the year, but the winter season makes it all the more likely. People experience varying levels of dry skin issues during this time, and it may affect different parts of the skin differently.
The good news is that this phenomenon is easily manageable and won’t require you to shell out a lot of money on expensive products. With a few of these basic tips and tricks, you’ll be on your way to smooth, hydrated skin no matter what the season is outside.
Keep in mind, these tips are also applicable to dry skin issues regardless of the weather. With that out of the way, let’s get right into it, starting with the cause of dry skin in winter:
Why is dry skin more common during winter?
The answer is simple: there is less moisture in the air both inside the house; and outdoors during winters. The outermost layer of your skin comes into direct contact with the air around you, the less moisture in the air the more your skin tends to dry out.
Using harsh soaps and products can also worsen your skin condition, especially scrubs and exfoliators. These can strip your outermost skin of natural oils, and can lead to redness and burning. Medical skin conditions may also play a part. Another factor to consider is indoor heating. If you are using an indoor heater during the winter, these will often provide dry heat which also contributes to increased dryness.
Signs of Dry Skin
Although everyone will experience winter dry skin differently, a few common signs are noted below for convenience:
- Flaky or scaly skin, on the limbs or elsewhere
- Redness (which may be accompanied by burning, stinging)
- Itchy skin
- Rough to the touch
- Irritated, raw skin
- Cracking skin especially of the lips
Some Easy Ways To Fight Dry Winter Skin
1. Use a humidifier indoors, especially if you are using artificial heating inside. A humidifier can help to both retain the natural skin moisture and support rehydration.
2. Stay hydrated internally. All too often, we neglect our requirement for water during winter, during the colder months we feel less thirst. But the body (and skin) still needs enough water to keep your skin moist and healthy.
3. Moisturize your skin after washing with soap. Soaps and cleansers tend to clear out all the natural oils present on your skin, this allows the moisture to escape. Moisturising every time you use soap can help fight this effect and retain your skin's moisture level. It is best to apply moisturiser and creams while your skin is still damp.
4. Speaking of washing, when you take your daily shower try to stay away from hot water. It tends to remove your skin's natural oils similar to the previously mentioned soaps and cleansing products. Try warm water instead, which tends to have a milder effect.
5. Try to avoid products that contain alcohol, these can dry out the skin even more than dry weather.
6. Use sunscreen, yes, even in the winter. Reducing your skin damage from UV rays goes a long way to keeping your skin healthy and hydrated.
7. When shaving, leave the cream or gel on the skin for a few minutes before you begin.
8. Simplify your skincare routine, with a focus on moisturisation. An overnight routine (such as night-time emollients) helps the skin recover during the night. When you feel like your skin has become stabilised at a healthy moisture level, then you can begin adding in more products one at a time.
9. For serious, or stinging dry patches you may need a better solution. Occlusives are products that shield the skin completely. These products provide a physical barrier between your skiing and the surrounding, giving it time to heal and also improving the hydration at that spot. Some occlusive creams and oils come with ingredients like shea butter, jojoba oil, and cocoa butter.
10. Avoid wearing gloves or clothing that irritates your skin, for example, woollen fabric may cause some irritation when worn directly against the skin. Also, do not use heavily perfumed laundry detergents and softeners. Try to find laundry products that are designed for sensitive skin.
11. Lastly, treat your skin gently. Whether it is during a shower or wiping yourself down after, always use a light touch. Don’t scratch or scrub vigorously, rather pat yourself gently all over. Try to stay away from exfoliation, especially when you have cracked, raw skin. This is not the time to be rough with your skin, a little gentleness goes a long way.
What if these tips don't work?
The key to avoiding dry skin is to use the methods and products that work best for you. If your winter dry skin issues persist, you may need to see a doctor or a dermatologist. For most people, these tips should be enough to get your skin in a healthy state.
It goes without saying that cracked, dry skin can be irritating both figuratively and physically. Hopefully, this list will help you work some moisture back into your thirsty skin as you get into the colder winter season!