Beauty Mistakes That Cause Your Dry Skin
Underneath all the glitz and glam of the holiday season often looms the threat of dry, flaky, itchy skin. It is like a little secret we are all concealing.
We called on experts to give us the scoop on the practices to keep dry winter skin at bay. We consulted dermatologist Dr. Marnie B. Nussbaum and and oculoplastic surgeon Dr. Maryam Zamani to get their top tips for keeping your skin smooth and moisturized from head to toe.
“Dry skin is extremely common during the changing of the seasons, particularly from fall to winter. The harsh weather and drops in temperature combined with the dry indoor heat sap the skin of its natural moisture, creating flaky, dry cracked skin,” Nussbaum said.
“In summer, women may need to double cleanse as skin can become more greasy, but in winter, it’s best to have a lighter touch and cleanse more gently so as not to strip the skin of vital moisture,” Zamani said.
Exfoliate from head to toe
“Physical exfoliation can cause the skin to feel drier and stripped; however, it’s important to continue exfoliating your skin during the winter,” Zamani said. But don’t go overboard! Nussbaum added that over exfoliation can lead to redness, inflammation, dryness and tearing in the skin.
“Improper mechanical exfoliation with rough, irregularly shaped particles can cause micro-tears of the skin, causing cracks, inflammation and even infection,” Nussbaum said. “I recommend that patients start out exfoliating once or twice per week, and gradually increase depending on the product and skin sensitivity.”
And, the physical exfoliation should extend to your entire body, not just your face.
“Chemical exfoliation using ingredients such as lactic acid helps to turn over skin cells while maintaining hydration,” Zamani said. But again, exfoliating, especially during the winter, should be done in moderation, and only as often as your skin can handle without becoming red, raw or irritated.
Defend against the drying effects of drinking alcohol
According to Zamani, alcohol is one of the biggest instigators of dry skin during the winter months.
“Alcohol is incredibly dehydrating because it’s a diuretic, forcing the water out of our bodies,” she said. “The presence of alcohol also makes it more difficult to rehydrate afterward, so you’ll be left with dry, flaky skin, and your fine lines and wrinkles will be more visible due to the lack of fluid in your skin. If you do want to indulge in a few extra drinks during the holiday season, ensure that you’re giving your skin a helping hand by incorporating retinol to encourage cell turnover to renew your skin’s glow.”
Ditch long, hot showers
Above all, Nussbaum believes that the number one culprit of dry skin is scorching shower temperatures. “I know that after coming in from the cold after a long, hard day, all you want is to stand in a hot, steamy shower and sing your heart out. However, long, hot showers further strip the skin of its natural lipids and paradoxically dry the skin out, creating an inflamed, red barrier,” she said. Nussbaum explained that in-shower lotions are great for sealing in moisture after a (not-too-hot) shower.
“Many people may not realize that in-shower lotions exist and are a great option for those who are too busy or forgetful to apply lotion after showering,” Nussbaum said. “You can use an in-shower rinse-off body lotion that uses the humidity of the shower to help hydrate the skin.”
Hydrate from the inside out
“Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate — I cannot focus enough on the importance of hydration,” Zamani said.
She also says that ceramides are essential to maintaining a healthy skin barrier. The waxy lipids prevent moisture loss in the skin. “They’re particularly useful for those with dry and weakened skin types, but all will benefit from use of ceramides due to their skin-protecting properties.”
“Ceramides are naturally produced by the skin; however, this reduces with age and exposure to environmental aggressors such as cooler weather,” Zamani explained. “Therefore, it’s vital to incorporate them into your skincare routine in order to maintain a supple, glowing complexion.”
Switch to pH-friendly bath products
“Many of my patients don’t realize the power of the bodywash they choose, especially during the dry winter months,” Nussbaum said. “Traditional bar soaps throw off the pH of the skin and strip the skin of its moisture, creating a tight, dry, itchy effect. Choosing a pH-balanced, moisturizing bodywash specially formulated to alleviate dry skin; it’s essential in repairing the epidermal barrier and creating a healthy, hydrated, supple feel.”
“Shea Butter is a vitamin-rich moisturizing ingredient and combined with petrolatum, they serve as occlusive agents on the skin. They work together to help seal in moisture, creating a protective barrier and preventing transepidermal water loss,” said Nussbaum.
“Daily or even twice daily hydration is key,” Nussbaum continued. “Use gentle bodywashes containing proven hydrating ingredients and be consistent! Glowing, supple skin isn’t created overnight. The more diligent you are with your moisturizing, the better results you will see.”