Reducing dry skin this winter season doesn’t need to be a battle. It is often the case that as winter approaches, we struggle harder at maintaining soft, smooth, and moisturized skin. Our skin becomes itchier and flakier in winter, because humidity is always lower in the cold air. Then, when the cool wind blows across our skin, it wicks out the moisture, making our skin even drier than normal.
To make it worse, once people are afflicted with dry winter skin, they will apply harsh chemical moisturizers, take extremely warm showers, or use harsh soaps in an attempt to reduce the dryness, when in fact they are just making conditions worse.
Get relief this chilly season by utilizing some of my top 5 favourite tips for reducing dry, itchy, flaky skin all winter long! If you have any secret tips to keeping your skin supple and smooth in winter, leave a comment below!
1. Drink Enough Water
Seriously, drink enough water. I cannot stress this enough. I used to drink under 1.5 litres a day, and when I upped my water intake to around 3-4 litres daily, my skin considerably improved. My legs used to get so itchy in winter that I used to scratch them until they were bleeding. That’s right. I couldn’t stop.
Consuming enough water will ensure that your skin is properly hydrated. Some people don’t believe that drinking enough water will make their skin softer, but I have experienced it first hand (you won’t get results right away. Just like everything else, give your body time to adapt with new water input). Try it out!
2. Stop Bathing Excessively
Exposing your skin to constant water will irritate eczema and other dry-skin conditions. Extremely hot showers and baths will just exacerbate the situation even more. Once your skin has too much water in it, you compromise the skins barrier function, making it more susceptible to letting in substances you might otherwise not want in your skin (aka. chemical soap products like Olay, Aveeno or Ivory soap, to name a few). Skin with compromised barrier function also results in the loss of oils your skin naturally produces. These two factors leave your skin dryer than before you went in the bath!
If you must bathe every day (which I suggest against – it is good to let oils naturally hydrate the skin and to leave at least 2-3 days in-between bathing), then bathe in warm water, not hot, and only use products on your body that are environmentally friendly and organic (like hemp soap, or other natural soaps with very few ingredients).
Avoid soaps with these ingredients:
– Benzethonium chloride
– Artificial colorants
– BHA or BHT
– Monosodium salt
– N-(hydroxymethyl) glycine
– Imidazalidol urea
– DMDM hydantoin diazolidinyl urea
– Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate
– PEG ingredients
– Petrolatum (liquid paraffin) and mineral oil
– Propylene glycol
– Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS, or anything containing words “lauryl” or “laureth”)
– Synthetic fragrances
3. Keep Your Heat Low
You may want your heat at 25ºC (77ºF), but you are actually doing your skin more harm than good! It may feel good to be toasty warm, but dry, hot air contributes to flaky, prickly skin. You are quite literally dehydrating your skin when you have the heat up too high. Turn down the thermostat and put on a sweater and some slippers – you’ll not only save money, but you’ll save your skin!
4. Moisturize Naturally
Moisturizing with chemical-based moisturizers (pretty much anything sold at a supermarket) will make reducing dry skin an effort in itself. Oils are great for moisturizing in winter because they create a protective layer on the skin that retains more moisture than any cream-based moisturizer out there. Oils like Jojoba oil, primrose oil, grape seed oil or avocado oil are wonderful for the skin.
I normally recommend jojoba oil for the whole body (yes, even the face!) because it is a wax ester that is most similar to human skin oil (sebum). Applying jojoba oil to your skin will actually trick your skin into thinking that it is producing enough oil, and thus balance oil production. This incredibly oil moisturizes your skin all day long! It doesn’t evaporate, or sit on your skin (and not absorb) like most chemical moisturizers (which are water based) do, and only a little bit is required to go a long way.
Also, be sure to protect your hands by wearing gloves when you go outside to help keep moisture locked in!
5. Use A Humidifier
Central heating systems (and space heaters) make our homes and workplaces hot and dry, and this can take its toll on our skin. Humidifiers help replace any lost moisture in the air, helping to prevent your skin from drying out. A humidifier will also prevent you from waking up with dry, sore throats, which is also a common complaint of those living in the Northern Hemisphere.