How to Fix Dry Winter Skin on the Cheap, According to Dermatologists
When it comes to caring for your body in the colder months, dry winter skin is a near universal issue. Hot air from your heater, cold temperatures, and low humidity can all dry out your skin. From flaky forehead patches to that weird itchy skin on your body that just won’t go away, nothing feels worse.
The good news is that it’s possible to protect yourself from dry skin — all without breaking the bank. These seven products and pointers from dermatologists will help make sure your dry winter skin goes away and stays away.
1. Switch Cleansers Seasonally
Your skincare should change with the seasons. And, according to dermatologist Dr. Ellen Marmur, founder of Marmur Medical and owner of Marmur Metamorphosis Skincare, the first step toward change is to use winter skincare products like cream cleansers.
“As the winter months creep closer, you should switch out your gel or foaming cleanser for a cream cleanser to lock in moisture and avoid stripping your skin of its natural oils,” she says. “When you use a cream cleanser, apply a very little bit, only where you’re oily.”
2. Incorporate Hyaluronic Acid and Ceramides
Dr. Marmur also recommends that you incorporate hyaluronic acid and ceramides into your routine. Ceramides are natural fats that comprise 50 percent of the skin, and create a barrier that helps prevent moisture loss.
Hyaluronic acid, like ceramides, helps prevent moisture loss. But it can also draw additional moisture into the skin thanks to a molecular structure capable of holding 1,000 times its weight in water.
“Ceramides and hyaluronic acids are key ingredients for hydrating the skin,” Dr. Marmur says. “For those with sensitive skin as well as dry skin, ceramides and HAs [hyaluronic acids] keep skin hydrated and supple for the cold winter months.”
3. Use Exfoliators
Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hadley King says you should avoid harsh soaps, but incorporate more exfoliants in your skincare regimen. These gentle scrubs can help rid you of flakes and dry, dead skin on the surface of your body.
“Harsher soaps and detergents can strip moisture from the skin,” King says. “Right now I’m particularly liking Dove’s Gentle Exfoliating Nourishing Body Wash, which gently exfoliates and moisturizes the skin, leaving it soft and smooth.”
4. Don’t Fear Oils
Oils have a tendency to scare people away. Those with oily or acne-prone skin may think adding them to their routine is courting trouble. But, according to dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner, that’s not the case.
“By preparing your skin before going outdoors, you can help protect it from the elements,” he says. “Think of [oils] like a glove over your skin to keep the barrier intact. The latest generation of cosmetic formulation has brought to the market high-quality products that have a lower price point so you won’t be sacrificing efficacy for cost.”
Dr. Zeichner recommends Ghost Democracy Soft Glow Facial Oil because it’s “rich in cloudberry oil, which contains high levels of omega fatty acids that protect the skin barrier.”
5. Set Up a Humidifier
Taking care of your itchy skin can involve more than just topical winter skincare products. Dr. King recommends adding a humidifier to your home in order to help reduce moisture loss from skin.
“Use a humidifier in your bedroom at night, as well as in other rooms where you’re spending a lot of time,” she says. “This helps to replace humidity in the air, which in turn reduces the amount of moisture that will evaporate from your skin.”
6. Use Gentle Soaps
Your facial wash isn’t the only cleanser you may want to switch up — your body wash should change as well. Dr. Marmur explains that bar soaps should be exchanged for liquid body washes like Neutrogena’s Rainbath. As for Dr. King, she suggests that you skip the harsh, more moisture-stripping washes and choose more hydrating and sensitive-skin-friendly items like Dove.
7. Moisturize Immediately After Showering
Just as important as what you use to moisturize your skin is when you use it, says Dr. King. “Before your skin dries after a shower, apply emollients to lock in the moisture. You may need heavier emollients in the winter than during the warmer months, and you may need to apply more.”
How do you know when you’ve applied the right amount of moisturizer? “You should use enough to leave the skin feeling well-hydrated. If the skin seems to quickly absorb what you’ve applied and feels dry, then you need to either apply more or switch to a more moisturizing product.”
Dr. King recommends Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream, explaining that it’s “noncomedogenic and packed with both hydrating humectants and emollients to lock in moisture, making it a great cream for both face and body. Key ingredients include glycerin, glyceryl stearate, sweet almond oil, and vitamin E. Glycerin is a humectant and emollient that draws in moisture to hydrate and lock in that moisture.”