While dry skin is more common during the winter, you can develop dry skin all year round. Cold temperatures, low humidity and strong, harsh winds deplete skin of its natural lipid layer, which keeps the skin from drying out. As soon as you turn the heat on indoors, the skin starts to dry out. The dry air from furnaces and other heating sources also suck the moisture out of skin.
Tips for preventing dry skin
1. Avoid all soaps, particularly antibacterial soaps
Bar soaps and antibacterial soaps strip too much oil from the skin, which dries it out. Moisturizing body washes are the most gentle body washes for the skin. You can use them in the shower or on your hands. In order to avoid over-drying your skin, you must avoid products that cause a “squeaky clean” feel. Such products are cleansers and soaps that lather. If you feel chapped after washing your skin, your cleanser is too harsh. If you have dry hands, you also should avoid the antibacterial soaps in public bathrooms as these are very harsh. Finally, avoid bubble baths. The detergents in the suds dry out the skin. Replace them with bath oils which moisturize the skin.
2. Moisturize after showers & hand washing
Moisturizer is the key, particularly when skin is slightly damp within 3 min of coming out of the shower. Pat skin dry instead of rubbing with your towel before application of a cream. Creams are better moisturizers than lotions because they contain more moisturizing oils, while lotions contain alcohol which dry out the skin and can cause a burning sensation on dry skin. Find an “ointment” moisturizer that’s oil based, rather than water-based, as the oil will crease a protective layer on the skin that retains more moisture than a cream or lotion. Many lotions labeled as night creams are oil-based. Trick: the thicker the better (so a tub is better than a pump). Applying after bathing and before bed are the best times to ensure locking in the moisture onto dry skin. Inexpensive products work just as well as high-end ones. What’s most important is how your skin responds to the product. Hands and feet can suffer terribly from dry, itchy skin. Put on moisturizer and gloves on your hands before going to bed at night, and consider lathering up your feet in thick moisturizer and sleeping in cotton socks at night. We sell cotton gloves in our office for this reason; these products are also available in our online store! If you want to add extra moisture, cover your hands and feet I a thick moisturizer or Vaseline and cover with saran wrap at bedtime.
3. Keep water lukewarm, not hot
Hot water robs the skin of moisture, so it is best to shower in lukewarm water. If you can’t bear this rule, try to keep your showers short (<5 min) and try showering only per day only. This also means avoiding hot tubs. The same rule applies to hand-washing: wash hands in lukewarm, never hot water. If your skin turns red, the water is simply too hot. Stripping oil from a frying pan can only be done with a detergent and hot water; the same principle applies to your skin. The hotter the water and the harsher the soap, the more it will dry out your skin.
4. Invest in a humidifier
Your skin needs ambient humidity to stay moist, however a heated room can have as little as 10% moisture. Central heating systems (as well as space heaters) blast hot dry air throughout our homes and offices. Humidifiers get more moisture in the air, which helps prevent your skin from drying out. In the winter, consider sleeping with a humidifier on in the bedroom.
5. Don’t forget your lips
Licking your lips dries them out. Lips have less oil producing glands than other places on the body and tend to dry out fast. Skip balms with sunscreens, ChapStick, Blistex, Carmax, and other products with fragrances. We think the best lip moisturizer is Aquaphor healing ointment.