Winter is thee worst when it comes to dry skin. We all want that same shimmer and shine we enjoy during the warm months, but it’s tricky to maintain as the temperatures plummet and the air turns dry as a desert wind.
You need not fear; there’s plenty you can do to keep winter’s skin-sapping wolves at bay. The nice thing about these steps is they usually don’t cost too much, and they have the backing of an expert on keeping your body’s largest organ as healthy as it can be.
J. Wesley Fletcher, MD, is a dermatologist with Avera Medical Group Dermatology. The Pierre-based physician said there are loads of approaches that keep those dry-skin blues away in the winter. Among the easiest is staying hydrated, but beyond drinking more water, you can use a number of do-it-yourself ideas.
“We all want to take long, hot showers when it’s cold outside, but doing so can actually dry the skin out more than a shorter, warm shower,” Fletcher said. “You should use a moisturizer right after your bath or shower, and stick with creams or ointments more than lotion. Just like with food, read the labels on skin-care products. Avoid ones with fragrance and alcohol, as they can make dry skin irritated.”
Adding moisture to the air with a humidifier and wearing breathable fabrics are also good steps in drier times of year, Fletcher said. She reminds us all that sunscreen is a 12-months-a-year good idea, too. She also said your dry skin can start with your hands, so pamper those fingers.
“Your skin from your fingertips to your scalp to your toenails is all one living, breathing organ, and our hands do so much, so keeping them clean with regular washing, and then the regular use of a cream to keep them supple is important,” she said. “We would of course recommend you come to us if you’re trying approaches but your dry skin is stubborn.”
Removing dead skin layers with exfoliating scrubs also can help not just the skin on your arms and legs, but the lips and face, too.
“Exfoliating can be a good practice, but skin type often determines how often you should do it, as well as the option you’re using if you use a chemical product. Not all the ones sold in stores are effective, and for some women, they can be unsafe,” said Fletcher. “Knowing your skin type is really the best starting point before using an exfoliating product.”
Skin scrubs should not be used too often, because they can lead to irritation. Some leading beauty and health sites recommend true “DIY” recipes, including coarse around-the-house items like coarse sugar, seat salt and oils, such as olive or coconut. Just a few drops of oil mixed with the sugar can regenerate skin and remove its dead outer cells. Fine-grain brown sugar mixed with a tiny dab of cold-pressed olive oil can also make for a nice once-or-twice-a-month lip scrub that you can just whip up as well.
“Raw, ground oats mixed with neem or argan oil can be used as a simple face scrub that will not clog pores,” Fletcher said. “But like with any creative approach to skin care, sometimes you have to consider the source and experiment to find the best approach.”
Simple approaches – like the use of inexpensive petroleum jelly for dry skin and lips – are at times the best, Fletcher added. She said the world is packed with “beauty secrets” but that sometimes, there’s no mystery in making skin soft and supple, year-round.
“The American Academy of Dermatology has lots of great information on its website, and it’s science-based and simple for the public, so I often send people to it for tips and insight,” she said. “Keeping skin clean and getting to know your skin type can be more important than a fad or trendy mask you heard about on Facebook. When you’re not sure, please just ask us. We can help you get winter’s dry skin under control.”