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The season's polar vortex means your skin is bound to be suffering from some serious dryness. We asked skincare experts to share their best tips and tricks for keeping things smooth, soft and moisturized this winter. Take notes. It's time to crack the code on dryness.
Water Can Dry Out Skin
It may sound counter-intuitive that water could parch skin, but Dr. Marina Peredo, founder of Marina I. Peredo Dermatology and Spatique Medical Spa in Smithtown, NY, says showering with piping hot water can strip your skin of moisture and also can cause uncomfortable dryness. “Harsh soaps and hand sanitizers can be very drying, as well,” she says, adding that compulsive hand washers tend to have very dry skin. Stick to showering every other day if at all possible, and try a tepid rather than a steaming shower.
Lock in Moisture Post-Shower
You may be in a huge morning rush, but take a minute or two to treat your skin before racing to get dressed. “Just out of the shower, pat yourself dry and while the skin is still moist, apply a body oil,” Peredo says. “It will make your skin silky smooth.”
Add Extra Oil With Age
Peredo says skin types vary in every person. “Some people have sensitive skin which tends to be dry,” she says. “Younger woman produce more oils than a more mature woman in menopause.” This makes it necessary to slather on more moisturizer.
Meanwhile, New York dermatologist Dr. Ariel Ostad says an underactive thyroid gland can contribute to dry skin. New York-based dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman, author of Skin Rules, adds that it can be worse in women with eczema.
“They have defective surface oils and are missing ceramides in their skin,” she says. Many skincare products on the market include topical ceramides to counter a deficiency.
Moisturize At Night
Sure, you know to slather on the moisturizer in the morning, but are you doing it at night, before bed, too?
“It’s important to keep your face hydrated and protected since it is the most exposed area of the body,” Peredo says. “In the evening, treat your face with an emollient moisturizer for added hydration and nourishment while you sleep. Look for a moisturizer with aloe, peptides, yucca, Vitamins A, C, E or green tea extract. These ingredients minimize free-radical damage caused by environmental elements.”
Prep Dry Hands Before Putting on Gloves
“Before protecting hands with a pair of gloves when going outdoors, apply a silicone-based hand cream to form a defensive layer around the skin to seal in moisture,” Peredo advises. “Make sure to use the same moisturizer after each time you wash your hands.”
Buff Before You Moisturize
Sloughing skin sounds pretty gross, but that flakiness? Dead skin cells. Gentle exfoliating before applying your moisturizer will help get rid of them. If you don't, you'll end up simply moisturizing the dead flakes.
No time for that extra step? "Slather a moisturizer with glycolic acid or beta hydroxyl acid, on your body, which exfoliates dead skin cells and moisturizes new skin,” Peredo says.
Dr. Jaliman adds that exfoliating once a week is good idea, but be sure to apply moisturizer right after. “A good choice is Neova DNA Barrier Accelerator,” she says.
Stop Licking Your Lips
"Cracked, dehydrated, chapped lips are one of the most painful, uncomfortable effects of cold temperatures and low humidity,” Peredo says. “While you might be drawn to lick lips to add hydration, this can only dry them further since saliva contains enzymes that draw moisture out of the skin.”
Too late? Peredo says, before applying a lip balm, moisten those lips with cool water, and then apply an oil-based balm to lock in moisture. “Almond oil, wheat germ oil and coconut oil are good,” she says. “Also, shea butter, aloe vera, cottonseed oil and sunflower oil are other good ingredients. And avoid fragrance.”
Ostad recommends using Aquaphor frequently. “It is very moisturizing and it will soothe cracked lips,” he says.
Eat These Tasty Foods
Clebrity nutritionist JJ Virgin, author of The Virgin Diet, says dry skin starts on the inside.
“Besides optimal protein, make sure you're getting enough omega 3 fatty acids,” she says. “Wild-caught fish is your best source, though freshly ground flaxseed, chia seeds and walnuts also contain omega 3s. Wild-caught fish is also a great source of the detoxifying mineral selenium.”
Virgin says many fruits and vegetables are very water dense – with some containing up to 92 percent water.
“So one strategy is to bump up your low-glycemic veggies and fruits, such as berries and spinach,” she says. “Other water-dense foods include celery and cucumbers. Try celery with some almond butter: delicious!”
Forget the 8-Glasses-of-Water Rule
Yeah, you’ve heard all about the benefits of hydrating from the inside out, but the amount of water you should be drinking might be different from what you think.
“A good water rule is half your body weight in water ounces,” Virgin says. “So if you weigh 150, you should drink 75 ounces of water a day. There are exceptions, of course, such as if someone is obese, but overall that's a good rule to follow. I keep a canteen on me and sip throughout the day. That's an easy way to get water.”
Get Your Beauty Sleep
Snooze away your dry skin? Who wouldn’t get on board with that? Virgin says to be sure to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night and control stress levels using meditation, yoga or deep breathing.
“Sleep and stress play more of a role in healthy skin than you might realize,” she says.