Winter can be exciting in its own many ways but there’s one thing it brings along that we all find annoying – dry skin. Winter is that time of the year when the skin gets all itchy and stretched. Scratching it out to satisfy that itch only makes the skin red and sore, while the pesky itching still persists.
The good news though is that there are some tips and tricks to deal with winter dryness. And what’s better? Some of these are simple and even cheap, yet they can help you fight off and soothe dry skin effectively.
What causes dry skin?
Winter air is dry and devoid of moisture. As a result, the skin loses its moisture easily. In fact dry skin in winters is a common condition called winter xerosis.
In most cases skin dryness results in a mild itch with redness, flaky skin and mild cracks and fine lines. However, in some extreme cases, as with conditions like rosacea and eczema, dry skin can lead to severe inflammation. It can alter the quality of life and may even demand medical attention.
Dry skin is also often caused by certain lifestyle factors such as using harsh soaps, frequent bathing with hot water, using synthetic skincare products, etc. They can strip the skin off its natural oils. Natural oils play a crucial role in retaining the skin’s moisture levels, thereby enabling proper functioning of the skin cells. Stripping off these oils leaves the skin dry and prone to damage.
Why should you care for dry skin?
We’re so busy with our lives that we often tend to overlook issues like dry skin. We tend to put it off as a mild inconvenience. However, continuous dryness can cause damage to the skin and cause premature ageing.
Moisture is crucial for the skin cells to grow and multiply. It forms a barrier that protects the skin from external aggressions like sun damage and the attack of pathogens. It is also necessary for maintaining a healthy balance of the skin microbiome.
Dry skin is more prone to inflammation which is not just painful, but it also makes the skin age rapidly. Wrinkles, fine lines and dark spots are more visible on dry skin. While it’s just an itch in the short term, in the long term, dry skin is no good news for young and healthy skin.
Simple ways to fight winter dryness
#1 Modify your internal climate
While you can’t change the world, you can, at least make some small changes to make your own little world more forgiving. Invest in a humidifier for the room you spend most of your time in.
A humidifier is exactly what it sounds like, it increases the humidity of the environment.
Increased humidity will reduce water loss from the skin and fight off dryness. A humidifier can make a massive difference and provide you with immediate relief from skin dryness.
#2 Moisturize your skin
Moisturizers help in rehydrating the outer layer of the skin and keeping the moisture locked in. This can effectively help fight dryness and the issues related to it. Moisturizers are primarily made of 3 types of elements – humectants, occlusives and emollients. While some ingredients attract water molecules, some keep the moisture sealed in while others make the skin soft by filling up the gaps between the skin cells.
Some cheap and easily available moisturizers are petroleum jelly, glycerin and mineral oils. There are a number of different formulations with different greasiness levels from light to heavy moisturizing properties. Use a light, gel-based lotion if your skin tends to get oily. If you have extremely dry or sensitive skin, opt for a cream or balm with a heavier texture.
Moisturize your skin at least twice every day, especially before you go to bed.
#3 Use mild and gentle skin care products
Most soaps and cleansers contain harsh chemical ingredients that strip the skin off its natural oils. Use milder, organic products that are gentler on the skin. Avoid products containing alcohols, synthetic fragrances and parabens.
Instead, opt for moisturizing formulations and cleansers that contain nourishing oils and minerals. Organic products made from natural ingredients tend to be more suitable for dry and sensitive skin.
#4 Use botanical oils as bath oils
Long hot water baths cause dryness but you can avoid this issue by adding a few drops of a botanical oil to your bath. Include argan oil, jojoba oil, sweet almond oil or olive oil to substitute the natural oil loss from the skin.
#5 Lightly exfoliate your skin
Use a gentle exfoliator to slough off the dead and dry skin to stimulate the production of new skin cells. This will help get rid of itching and inflammation. An excellent DIY example is to soak yourself in an oatmeal bath.
#6 Apply moisturizer right after you bathe
After you bathe, gently pat your skin dry instead of rubbing it. While your skin is still damp, slather it with a generous amount of moisturizer. The moisturizer will fill in the gaps between the skin cells and keep the moisture sealed in for a longer period.
#7 Use an effective serum or balm to nourish the skin
Apart from moisturizing the skin, supplying it with the nourishment of natural oils can help fight off dryness. A number of organic oils derived naturally such as ostrich oil, emu oil and jojoba oil have properties similar to that of the natural oil produced by our skin. They are excellent options for replenishing and restoring lost natural oils. They also promote the skin cells to grow, multiply and recover.
#8 Protect your skin from external aggressions
Cover your skin as much as possible with protective clothing such as gloves, scarves and socks. This will prevent dry winter winds from stripping away the moisture in the skin.
The sun’s UV radiation is also notorious for causing water loss and triggering inflammation and skin damage. Never step out in the sun without an effective sunblock or sunscreen protecting your skin.
Even while at home, protect your skin, especially areas like the ankles and elbows that tend to crack because of dryness. After moisturizing well, keep these areas covered with socks and full-sleeved shirts as much as is possible. While cleaning and washing, wear gloves to protect your hands.