Winter’s harsh elements can wreak havoc on skin, causing it to dry, itch and flake. Our seven skin-saving tips can help to provide soothing relief in no time:
1. Protect your skin with oil supplements.
Adding fish and flaxseed oil to your diet—two natural oils high in essential fatty acids—will not only help to keep your skin hydrated, but protect it from the damaging effects of the environment.
It may sound counter intuitive, but exfoliation is actually great for dry skin. The reason? Thick, callused or dead skin covers the healthy skin beneath and soaks up all the moisture. Choose a gentle exfoliating product and avoid products containing alcohol, which is drying.
3. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.
Once the exfoliation process is complete, apply an oil-based moisturizer. Thick, heavy creams offer plenty of staying power and keep water from evaporating from your skin. However, choose a lotion free of perfume and harsh chemicals, or it could add to the drying effect. Petroleum jelly, perfect for people with sensitive skin, is safe, inexpensive and free of harsh chemicals and irritants.
4. Block the rays.
Sunblock is one of your best defenses against dry skin, wrinkles and roughness. Covering up year-round using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or greater can keep sun damage at bay, locking in moisture and warding off wrinkles to boot. Prevent dry, chapped lips in the winter with an SPF 15 lip balm, then add a scarf or hat.
5. Wash off in warm water.
Steamy showers are a shoo-in when temperatures dip; but while hot water can make you feel warm in a jiffy, it strips your body of its natural oil barrier and lets out moisture in the process. Try using warm water instead, and limit showers to no more than 10 minutes.
6. Increase indoor humidity.
Dry indoor air—common during the winter months when lower outdoor temperatures bring lower humidity levels—can take its toll on skin. A humidifier can help to create a healthier home and lesson skin irritation, in addition to relieving problems associated with dry air, like sore throats and respiratory problems. Plus, since humidified air feels warmer than dry air at the same temperature, you may be able to lower your thermostat and utility bills simultaneously.
7. Visit your dermatologist.
If you have taken several of these steps to ward off dry winter skin—with little or no results—it’s time to see a dermatologist. There could be an underlying cause that requires more medical attention. The good news? Several prescription creams are available that can restore your skin’s balance in no time.