How to Care for Your Skin in the Winter

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Author Name: Mia Barnes
Date: Tuesday February 11, 2020

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Wintertime brings about a lot of dry, cold weather. Along with that weather, some of us can also experience dryness of the skin. Ouch!

Thankfully, you don’t have to put up with red, rough and raw skin that feels uncomfortable all winter long. There are many simple ways to handle it. With that in mind, here’s a quick guide on how to take care of that annoying dry skin in the winter.

Why Do You Get Dry Skin?

Dry skin can occur when the skin has trouble retaining enough moisture. Moisture levels drop across the board in the wintertime. Not only is your indoor environment dry, but it’s also dry outside! So what exactly does this mean for your skin?

For skin, the water content of the outermost layer, or the “epidermis,” typically reflects the level of humidity in its surroundings. Therefore, a dry environment means dry, cracking skin.

The problem of dry skin can be made even worse because of a few other factors, which Harvard Health Publishing explains in detail. These include taking frequent baths, using harsh soaps that strip the essential oils from your skin and even aging.

What Are the Effects of Dry Skin?

You might be thinking, “Big deal! It’s just dry skin!” But did you know that dry skin can actually lead to a few other problems that are far more troubling than “just” itchiness?

If it’s left untreated, dry skin can lead to chronic eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis. This is a condition in which the skin becomes red and itchy and can flare up periodically.

Dry skin can also cause bleeding from cracks or fissures in the skin that have gone deep enough. This cracking and flaking skin may result in bacterial infections that require antibiotics if they’re left without any treatment.

Fortunately, there are ways to combat this dry skin and prevent further complications. Without further ado, here’s a guide on how to take care of that dry skin in the winter.

How to Take Care of That Dry Skin in the Winter

Taking care of that pesky dry skin requires more than just putting on your favorite lotion. Sometimes it means changing habits or staying away from certain things altogether. Thankfully, you don’t have to go through this blindly. Below is a quick and easy guide on how to take care of that dry skin during the cold months of wintertime.

In the Shower

You might assume that showering helps with dry skin, but it actually depends on the type of shower you’re taking. Hot water equals humidity equals moisture equals not-dry skin, right? Wrong!

When you have dry skin, hot water actually dries it out even more because it strips your skin of its natural oils. Use lukewarm water instead.

We typically idealize long, hot showers. They sound so relaxing! But just like hot water, the longer the shower, the more your skin is stripped of its oils and the more dryness you’ll start to experience. Instead, opt for showers that are five to 10 minutes in length.

One final tip for showering is actually quite simple. When shaving your legs, consider leaving the shaving cream on for a few minutes before shaving. This will help your skin stay moisturized so that the razor doesn’t strip away even more of those natural oils.

Here’s a quick look back:

  1. Use lukewarm, not hot, water.
  2. Shorter showers are best, usually five to 10 minutes in length.
  3. Leave the shaving cream on for a few minutes before shaving.

Outside the Shower

Along with changing your shower habits, there are also several things that can take care of that dry skin outside of the shower.

The most important is to use a moisturizer right after getting out of the shower. You can dry off a little first, but moisturizing should be the first thing you do. This helps seal in the moisture from the shower while you’re still a little damp.

Using heavier or greasier lotions or moisturizers is also recommended. The heavier, the better. This decreases the chances of the skin becoming dry again quickly. A moisturizer with sunscreen is always recommended as well.

Your skin needs protection all year round, not just during the summer! If you need some tips on getting started with moisturizing, there are lots of good resources out there.

Finally, slow down on facial peels that may be harsh on your skin. The best ones to use during the winter are deep hydrating facial masks. These will help keep your skin hydrated and glowing instead of dry and flaky.

A quick look back at these three tips:

  1. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!
  2. Opt for heavy or greasy moisturizers with sunscreen in them.
  3. Don’t use harsh facial peels — only hydrating ones.

Tips for Clothing

You may not think that your clothing is causing the irritated, dry skin you’re experiencing, but there’s a decent chance that it might be.

When washing your clothes, use fragrance-free detergents and softeners. Sometimes fragrances can irritate our skin without us realizing it. By using fragrance-free detergents, you take away one possible irritant that could be causing your dry skin.

But detergents aren’t the only part of your clothing that could be making your skin rebel. Certain fabrics can also cause your skin to become red, itchy and irritated. According to the National Eczema Society, cotton or a cotton blend is the safest type of fabric to wear when dealing with dry skin.

Our final tip for your clothing is to wear gloves. It’s cold out, and by not wearing gloves, you are letting all of the heat and moisture from your hands go without even putting up a fight. Putting on gloves will not only keep your hands warm, but it will also help keep them from getting dry.

Your quick glance back:

  1. Use fragrance-free detergents and softeners.
  2. Avoid irritating fabrics.
  3. Wear your gloves!

Other Ways to Help 

Beyond your habits in and out of the shower and your clothing choices, we have a few final ways to take care of that dry skin in the winter.

Humidifiers can help put humidity and moisture back into the environment around you. Remember what was said earlier? Our skin reflects the humidity of the environment around us.

Thus, a humidifier equals more humidity equals hydrated skin! There are lots of options out there if you are considering a humidifier.

Another way to take care of that dry skin is by taking on an important diet change. Simply put, you need to drink more water! Your body is made up of at least 60% water, which helps with bodily functions and the hydration of your skin.

Lastly, our final tip is DON’T SCRATCH! Scratching can make your skin even itchier, even redder and even drier. It can also cause those terrible cracks that lead to bleeding. So, whatever you do, don’t scratch.

A Final Glance Back

Now that you’ve read through our guide on how to take care of that dry skin in the winter, here’s a quick glance back at all of our tips:

  1. Use lukewarm water, not hot.
  2. Shorter showers are best, usually five to 10 minutes.
  3. Leave the shaving cream on for a few minutes before shaving.
  4. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!
  5. Opt for heavy or greasy moisturizers with sunscreen in them.
  6. No harsh facial peels, only hydrating ones.
  7. Use fragrance-free detergents and softeners.
  8. Avoid irritating fabrics.
  9. Wear your gloves!
  10. Use a humidifier.
  11. Drink more water!
  12. Do. Not. Scratch.

If your dry skin persists after using all of these steps, consider seeking out a skin specialist or dermatologist near you for more help.

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