Dry skin might not seem like a big deal, but it can be incredibly unpleasant for those of us who have it, leading us to quietly suffer through the itching and irritation and unique, new, and slightly weird ways to cure dry skin. According to Dr. David E. Banks in an interview in Everyday Health, dry skin is caused by a lack of moisture, often worsening when the weather is cold as the cold air absorbs the moisture from your skin. And according to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of dry skin can range from itching to flaking and peeling, all the way to deep, bleeding cracks in the skin.
Basically, dry skin is annoying at best, and painful at worst — but if you have it you probably didn't need me to tell you that. What you might not know is that there are a lot of unexpected ways to get dry skin under control that go beyond simply moisturizing, and can help turn this super uncomfortable aspect of your life into something you'll hardly notice. For those of you in need of relief, here are seven slightly unexpected tips for kicking dry skin to the curb once and for all.
1. Avoid Hot Showers
Hot showers might feel amazing, but they're actually one of the worst things for exacerbating dry skin. Veronica Gorgeois, licensed esthetician and YouTube skincare expert, recommended washing with lukewarm water, saying that if you must take a hot shower, keep your head and face out of the water stream to avoid a super dry complexion.
2. Moisturize At The Right Time
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, moisturizing actually doesn't moisturize skin so much as it locks in the moisture that's already there. This is why it's extremely important to moisturize at the right time of day to maximize your moisturizing results. The Academy specifically recommended applying moisturizer immediately after showering and before you open the bathroom door, letting cold air in, causing moisture to escape.
3. Don't Just Use Lotion
According to Diane L. Kallgren, MD., in an article for Prevention, it's important to use the right kind of products when combating dry skin. "Watery, scented lotions are next to useless for dry skin," she said. She recommends strong, thick creams or emollients, like petroleum jelly, applied before bed. According to the Academy of Dermatology, creams or ointments that contain olive or jojoba oil or shea butter are also reccomended as effective alternatives.
Julyne Derrick, beauty expert at About.com, said that moisturizing is much more effective on properly exfoliated skin, and recommended exfoliating on a weekly or semi-weekly basis with a homemade salt or sugar scrub. "Simply combine 2 parts sugar (or salt) and 1 part oil (any oil in your kitchen will work — even olive oil, but I prefer extra virgin coconut oil), and massage into skin in a circular motion," Derrick said.
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Humidifiers are an excellent way to expose your skin to more moisture, especially in those dry winter months. The Harvard School of Medicine even sited using a humidifier as its number one dry skin prevention tip, and recommended setting your humidifier to around 60 percent in order to best hydrate the top layer of dermis.
6. Change Up Your Detergent
Harvard Medical School recommended using fragrance-free laundry detergents and fabric softeners, as the additives can further irritate your skin. You can find these products at places like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, as well as a variety of less expensive name brands with gentler ingredients at Walmart and Target.
7. Cut Out Fragrances
Gorgeois said that reducing the amount of irritants and dehydrating ingredients in your skincare products will help keep skin stabilized. "So keep fragrance, essential oils, solvent alcohols, and harsh cleansers to a minimum whenever you can," she said. Gorgeois also said to be mindful of any products that cause, "redness, dryness, patchy, chapped flakes, or burning sensations" when applied.
Don't fret too much if you're suffering from dry skin. There are a lot of ways to minimize its presence in your life — you just need to put in a little daily skin TLC!