How to save your skin during the dry winter months
I have always had dry skin (although I didn’t always know it!) and during the winter months, things get even worse. The air has less humidity, even in the humid South where I now live (I’m from Utah where we have cold dry winters), and the heated indoors exacerbate things further, especially if you have dry AND sensitive skin. But there are a few simple things you can tweak to help your dry skin, whether you need to make these adjustments year-round or just during the colder months. Here are 10 tips to save your dry skin and get you on your way to more hydrated, glowing skin any time of year.
10 Tips to Save Your Dry Skin
I’m sharing tips primarily focused on the face, but I included a few notes about how to deal with dry skin on your body, too! Here are my best tips for a winter skin care routine.
1. Swap your moisturizer & serum
It’s not uncommon to feel like your regular moisturizer no longer is enough when the temperatures drop. A simple solution is to get a thicker, more hydrating nighttime moisturizer. When you wake up, your skin will feel more hydrated, and your usual daytime moisturizer may be enough. If not, you may also need to switch your daytime moisturizer. Some people are able to use their nighttime moisturizer during the day, and others find it too heavy.
When looking for a more hydrating moisturizer, look for something that is anti-aging since that will always have ingredients focused on dry skin since skin loses its hydration as we age. You can also look for moisturizers or serums with with hyaluronic acid to keep your face hydrated ALL day. (This serum is great for all skin types.)
I use the Beautycounter Countertime Supreme Cream or Obagi Hydrate Facial Moisturizer at night and this Countertime Soft Cream during the day. On days that I feel EXTRA dry, I also use the Supreme Cream in the AM.
2. Add in a face oil
Another option if you don’t want to buy a new moisturizer is to add a face oil to your routine. You can layer it under your moisturizer, mix it in, and apply both together, or apply it as the last layer on top of your moisturizer. I would suggest trying all three since the feel is a bit of personal preference. My esthetician said that applying the oil last, i.e. on top of your moisturizer, will help lock in the most moisturizer since it seals it in.
I use the Beautycounter Brightening Oil. Don’t be scared of adding an oil to your routine if you are breakout prone. Your skin NEEDS oil to be its healthiest! Often times, breakouts are caused when the skin is too dry, so it produces more oil and clogs pores. Adding in a high-quality oil designed for your skin type helps prevent that. (Here are more tips for clear skin!)
3. Use a moisture mask
Many people think of clearing out junk when they think of masks, and yes, those masks have their place! There are also incredible masks that help hydrate skin and give back to it! My favorites are the Beautycounter Cleansing Balm, Primally Pure Soothing Mask, and the Cosmedix Rescue Intense Balm & Mask.
The Beautycounter and Cosmedix masks can be left on overnight, so they are super easy to use (and a great alternative to petroleum jelly, which can often cause breakouts when used on the face). The Primally Pure mask needs to be washed off before hitting the sheets. (Bonus of the Cleansing Balm – it is also an incredibly hydrating cleanser, so you get two uses from that one product. Read my full review here.)
4. Eat & Drink up!
We all know water intake is important – eight glasses a day, right? You may need more than that in the winter and you definitely need more if you work up a hard sweat when you workout. Aim for your urine to be pale yellow. You may also need to add a pinch of salt to your water to help you actually retain your water intake if your urine is always clear and you pee often.
The right foods can also help. Citrus fruits, nuts, whole grains, broccoli, and eggs are particularly helpful at hydrating skin. They are high in vitamins B2, B6, B12, C, and E — all of these nourish skin and improve water retention [source]. While you’re looking at your diet, look at how much sugar and refined carbs you are consuming since those can impair the skin’s ability to retain moisture.
Your moisturizer can’t absorb into your skin if dry skin cells are getting in the way. Using a gentle exfoliator, just 1-2 a week, will help remedy that. I use this acid exfoliator a few times a week and these acid + physical exfoliator pads once a week.
6. Don’t skip a toner!
A toner was something I never used since I always felt like they stripped my skin, leaving it feeling raw and dry – the opposite of what I wanted. But the right toner will increase the hydration of your skin, balancing it after cleansing, so your treatments and moisturizers absorb and work better. I SWEAR BY the Countertime Hydrating Essence, but the Countermatch Hydra-Gel Toner is great, too! Or, adding simple witch hazel to your routine can make a difference as well.
7. Pamper your whole body
If your face is dry, your legs and arms probably are feeling it too.
First, make sure you have a high-quality body wash.
And I hate to break it to you, but your two-dollar body wash probably isn’t the best option for dry skin. (Never mind it’s likely filled with harmful chemicals. Look it up on the EWG Skin Deep website and/or check it against this Never List.) Many times irritated skin is caused by a reaction to a chemical in cheaper products. So, make sure your body wash isn’t exacerbating problems. (This goes for your face cleanser too!) Also, when you’re showering, turn the temperature down just a bit so you’re not blasting blazing hot water. I LOVE a hot shower or bath but it does contribute to dry skin, so just adjust the temp a bit. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using warm, not hot water to cleanse.
Next, exfoliate your body.
Swap your lotion!
In the summer, I use a more traditional body lotion (i.e. lightweight, easily absorbs). In the winter, I use a VERY thick body butter that contains shea butter. I love the Primally Pure ones. A body butter typically will feel a bit greasy at first, but it absorbs after a few minutes. For me, it’s worth it to deal with that I don’t have itchy skin call day. You could also purchase a body oil to mix in with your regular body lotion! I like both this one and this one. Look for one that’s fragrance free if you’re prone to irritation or have skin conditions like eczema. “Fragrance” is actually a loophole and companies can put anything they want in products and label it “fragrance” without disclosing what it is. I avoid it, along with these other ingredients.
Noticing a trend here? All the things you do for your face also apply to your body!
8. Use a humidifier
This will help add moisture back to your rooms, which will help a LOT. I always plug in our humidifier in the winter months about an hour before I head to bed and let it run all night! While I don’t love having it sit on my nightstand, I do love healthy skin, so it’s worth it 😉
9. Use collagen – or not
Some people swear by collagen for increasing their skin’s moisture levels. Collagen is the main structural protein in our skin and as we age, we lose collagen which causes skin to break down, causing fine lines and wrinkles. So many people purport that consuming a collagen supplement can help improve skin breakdown, and therefore improve hydration. But, there is actually little research or data to prove that. So, take it if you want to, but don’t rely on it as a quick fix or as your only avenue to improve dry skin! I take Collagen for Her a few times a week and just mix it into my smoothie.
10. Mist throughout the day
If you still feel like your face is parched by the afternoon, no matter what you do, keep a face mist in your purse. A lightweight mist will add just enough hydration without causing your makeup to slide off. Bonus: it just FEELS good. This is the one I use.
Your turn: If you have dry skin, what do you find helps you?