How To Combat Dry Skin During Winter
For those of you out there who have dry skin, you know that the cold winter months can be absolutely awful for your already sensitive skin!
Even if your skin isn’t dry all year-round, chilly weather and icy air can definitely change up your skin’s trouble spots. It can be a struggle to keep this skin type hydrated and happy. Whether your skin is chapped from wind and exposure, or just needs a little bit of care, there are a number of products that can be used to alleviate this condition. Your dry skin can feel silky-soft and smooth in less time than you might think.
Which products are best for me?
Let’s first talk about the two main categories of products.
First you have what is called an ANHYDROUS product. This is a product that contains no water and is purely oil based. This includes face oils, body butter and balms. These products make the skin soft and lovely, and definitely have their place among the plethora of skin products available.
As one may think otherwise, if you are ONLY using anhydrous products on your dry skin you may not be providing the right kind of long-term hydration, moisture and healing that your skin needs.
Oils make the skin softer but that does not mean hydration. It is water that hydrates the skin and anhydrous products alone cannot hydrate the skin because they literally DON’T have water in them. If you have been relying upon body butters or other anhydrous products primarily for your dry skin, and you are not seeing results beyond immediate, short-term softening, this might be your problem.
Butters, oils and emollients ARE very important for your skin, so don’t discount them completely. Just know that these alone cannot long term handle overly dry skin. They can definitely be a component in a routine but they cannot be the only one.
In order for skin to be healthy, hydrated and functioning properly, it needs both water and lipids (oils). Water will plump the skin and prevent the cells from drying out. The skin produces what’s called NMF (Natural Moisturizing Factors), which are a mixture of molecules that collectively work to help retain moisture inside the cells. The cells in the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the skin) are surrounded by lipids (fatty acids, cholesterol, ceramides) which further protect the skin from becoming dehydrated. This is why these lipids are often referred to as the lipid barrier or moisture barrier.
So in summary for the skin’s protective function to be effective, it needs to have enough water, humectants (things that trap the water) and lipids. This is why an ideal routine for dry skin needs to contain exactly those.
Here is what Dry skin needs to be properly nourished.
- Water to hydrate (Face Mists/Toners)
- Humectants (such as glycerin, hydrolysed plant proteins or hyaluronic acid) to help bond with water and draw it into the skin.
- Emollients (such as butters, squalene and oils) to soften the rough texture of the skin
- And Occlusives (like waxes and some butters) to keep the newly-imparted moisture from escaping too quickly.