Thursday, December 3, 2009

Preventing Dry Skin in the Winter

The winter low temperatures, low humidity and strong, harsh winds are recipe for uncomfortable, crackly, itchy, dry skin. The dry air from furnaces and other heating sources also suck the moisture out of skin.

To keep your skin feeling dewy and moist, follow these dry skin fix-it tips:

Keep Water Lukewarm, Not Hot. Hot water robs skin of moisture causing dry skin, so it's best to shower in lukewarm water. If you can't bear this rule -- I can't -- try to keep your showers short and try showering only once per day. 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.

Moisturize After Showers or Hand Washing. Your legs might get itchy from dryness, and not even moisturizer helps this in the winter. Part of this is because shaving can sometimes really dry out your skin. In the winter, I prefer oils to lotions on for the body. A really inexpensive solution is organic extra virgin coconut oil, which you can buy in health food stores or online. Simply massage the coconut oil all over the body. Trust me, this will get rid of dry, itchy skin and the oil isn't sticky like lotion tends to be.

Exfoliate on a Weekly or Semi-weekly Basis. Moisturizer is much more effective on properly exfoliated skin. Use a scrub in the shower and exfoliate facial skin with a mild scrub made for the face. It's best to scrub skin when it's dry. Apply scrub to dry skin before you turn on the water (mix with lotion if it's not moist enough). Massage the scrub into skin for a few minutes for best results.

Invest in a Humidifier. Ever notice how older people in desert climates look like leather? The moisture in the air is actually good for skin. If you live in a low-humidity climate or you are around furnaces in the winter, invest in a humidifier.

Skip the Drying Soaps. Soaps can be drying. Stick with a creamy moisturizing cleanser that contains glycerin or petrolatum, such as Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Wash.

Baby Your Hands & Feet. Hands and feet can suffer terribly from dry, itchy skin. Put on moisturizer and gloves BEFORE you head outdoors in the winter, and consider lathering up your feet in thick moisturizer and sleeping in cotton socks at night.

Don't Forget Your Lips. Licking your lips will not moisturize them and instead will help dry them out. Lips retain less moisture than other parts of the body, so they tend to dry out more quickly. A simple lip balm helps, as does my all-time favorite lip trick learned in high school from "Seventeen" magazine: moisturize your lips with Vaseline. Take a toothbrush and "brush" your lips in a circular motion. This will remove dead flakes and leave your lips soft and supple.

Protect Your Face, Too. Sometimes your face will get dry and flaky. Make sure you are moisturizing before you go to sleep and before you put make up on. I usually put the lotion on under my primer, just so the makeup doesn't smudge or fade away.

Consider Fish Oil Pills. There are a zillion reasons why you should take Fish Oil pills, if you are interested, check out my other entry about it. This is just another reason, new studies show omega-3 fish oil pills may soothe super dry skin. Patients who took fish oils pills in a study reported in Allure magazine, saw significant results within a few weeks.

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