Winter Skincare Tips to Avoid Dry Skin
It’s December! Cue the cold weather, hot chocolate, fireplace, and snuggles underneath cozy blankets. Those are just a few of my favorite things about the winter and I like to keep those warm, happy thoughts at the forefront of my mind to avoid thinking about the inevitable bouts of dry skin I’ll have to combat with my winter skincare this season.
- Dry, cold weather strips the skin of moisture and can lead to flare-ups of skin conditions
- The skin barrier becomes weaker in dry, cold weather
- Maintaining moisture in the skin can strengthen and protect the skin barrier from environmental stressors
Yes, I said it, the inevitable bouts of dry skin I’ll have this season. Combating dry skin is a year round battle for me and the winter only exacerbates my eczema, so I knew it was time to tailor my winter skincare ritual. But, despite tailoring my winter skincare ritual, it’s unrealistic to expect perfectly hydrated skin all winter long. I can only do my best to avoid dryness and give my skin the TLC it needs during the cold, dry months.
If your skin mood is anything like mine, or you are just looking for ways to better care for your skin through the dry months with a refreshed winter skincare ritual, you are in the right place. It’s time to unpack all the research and dermatologist recommended tips to combat dry skin and elevate your winter skincare ritual. Let’s get into it.
How Does The Change in Weather Affect Our Skin?
Three big things happen when the weather switches from warm and humid to cold and dry.
- Dry Skin
The cold, dry air sucks moisture out of the skin. In addition to the cold, dry air, harsh winds can lead to cracked skin. In severe cases, the skin may bleed.
- Weakened Skin Barrier
A 2018 Northern European led study found that “low humidity and low temperature lead to a general decrease in skin barrier functions,”. Dry skin weakens the strength of the skin barrier, leaving the largest organ of our body more exposed to environmental stressors.
- Skin Condition Flare-Ups
Skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis have a high likelihood of flaring in the winter due to the climate changes.
Skincare Ingredients That Help Combat Dry Skin
Dry skin occurs from trans epidermal water loss, aka, the evaporation of water from the skin. Products like moisturizer that are applied to the skin create a barrier, slowing down the process of water evaporation from the skin and retaining moisture in the skin. Here are some ingredients to look for in products that help retain moisture and help create a strong barrier.
Hyaluronic acid is a humectant with a best rating on Paula’s Choice. It has restorative properties, with the ability to boost and retain moisture content in the skin. Hyaluronic acid is capable of holding up to 1000x its weight in water, thus it is a suitable moisturizer for all. On skincare packaging, the ingredient name may be displayed as sodium hyaluronate.
Glycerin is also a humectant with a best rating on Paula’s Choice. Glycerin is found naturally in the skin, thus categorizing the ingredient as skin-restoring. Glycerin works naturally to defend against dehydration and maintain moisture levels in the skin. Glycerin is a master ingredient for retaining moisture and according to Paula’s Choice, works best when combined with other replenishing and emollient ingredients.
Shea butter is another humectant with a best rating on Paula’s Choice. Not only does it help retain moisture, it also provides smoothing properties, antioxidants, and skin-replenishing fatty acids.
Winter Skincare Ritual Habits
Retaining moisture in the skin helps maintain a strong barrier to environmental stressors. Here are some habits you can form to avoid dry skin, retain moisture, and protect the skin barrier.
- Say Goodbye to Long, Hot Showers for The Season
I know how enticing it is to take a long, hot shower after a stressful day. But long, hot showers can cause a lot of damage to the skin. Hot water strips the skin of its natural oils and long times spent in the shower can dry out the skin.
So, to prevent stripping your skin of natural oils and drying out the skin, The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using warm (not hot) water and limiting the time spent in the shower to 10 minutes. Your skin will thank you later.
- Pat Your Body Dry, Don’t Rub!
For some, it may be a natural instinct from childhood to rub your body down with a towel. But, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, rubbing your skin can further irritate dry skin. Patting your skin dry with a gentle towel will prevent further irritation and help retain moisture.
- Try the 3 Step Moisturizing Method
Olena Beley’s 3 step moisturizing method elevated thousands of facial skin care rituals. Naturally, after the success it had in facial skin care rituals people were wondering if the same method could be used for body skincare.
The answer was simple, yes! Olena introduced the 3 step moisturizing method to body skincare rituals, and let’s just say it's revolutionary. Adding the 3 step moisturizing method to your winter skincare routine is a sure-fire way to have smooth, supple skin all season long.
1. Keep Water On Your Skin
You do not want to start your moisturizing method with dry skin! So, make sure your skin is still damp (not soaking wet) when starting your moisturizing method.
2. Apply a Humectant
Humectants absorb and retain water on the skin. So, it’s working to retain the water and moisture from step one. Olena’s favorite humectant for this step is hyaluronic acid.
You do not want to stop here though. Olena notes that only using a water and humectant combination can lead to drier skin than before, especially in dry climates. So be sure to follow up with step 3.
3. Apply an Emollient
The emollient is the moisturizer, and the point of this step is to seal in the water and humectant. Olena’s favorite emollient ingredient to look for in moisturizers are triglycerides and even notes that the humectant glycerin works great in step three too.
Cold, dry weather can wreak havoc on our skin. Luckily, we can prevent dry, weak skin with healthy skincare ritual habits. Healthy ingredients like shea butter, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin and healthy habits like taking short, warm showers and implementing the 3 step moisturizing method are at our disposal. It’s time we take control of our skin health this winter!
Written by Lauren Conklin