Dry winter skin can be difficult to treat. And we all hear the same twenty tips over and over: Drink more water, stay indoors, bundle up, apply moisturizer.
Quite frankly, if these tips worked, none of us would have dry skin to begin with!
Luckily, there are more than a few sly expert tips and dermatological studies out there to help you combat dryness:
1. Look for natural moisturizing factors, like glycerin, lactic acid, sodium hyaluronate, hyaluronic acid, and amino acids.
Natural moisturizing factors make sure the structure of the epidermis (the uppermost layer of the skin) is intact. They are, as the name implies, naturally found within the skin, in order to maintain a level of about 30% moisturization within the skin (Cosmetic Dermatology). But their effects can also be supplemented with other ingredients, like glycerin, lactic acid, sodium hyaluronate, hyaluronic acid, and amino acids.
When NMF levels are reduced, we experience surface roughness, flaking, fine lines, and a tight, uncomfortable feeling. When NMFs are supplemented into the skin, we often experience relief to these symptoms within a couple of hours. In extreme cases, NMFs will produce results within 2-3 days of twice-daily application.
2. Wet your face before applying cleanser.
According to dermatologist Dr. Susan Stuart, M.D., “Most cleansing products are aggressive and should be mitigated by water first.”
Wet your face with lukewarm (not hot!) water, and then apply a dime-sized amount of cleanser all over the face. This will prevent detergents and surfactants from over-stripping the delicate outer oils of your skin.
3. Never, ever, ever use soap.
Basic (high pH) cleansers should not be used with dry winter skin. Soaps, which mostly have a high pH, disrupt skin’s natural barrier function and damage the acid mantle (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2006).
In turn, the skin is more susceptible to infection by bacteria, including the acne-causing bacterium P. acnes. It is best to stick with cleansers that are acidic (low pH) to neutral.
Not sure which cleansers are safe? Look for ingredients like disodium and tetrasodium EDTA, which are pH buffers that ensure the cleanser falls into a neutral range.
4. Avoid harsh treatments with retinoids, alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids, lasers, peels, microdermabrasion, or the like.
While many experts will tell you that these treatments are perfectly fine for dry winter skin, the truth of the matter is, they are probably trying to sell you something!
Your skin has a limited amount of energy. When your skin is dry, parched, red, and peeling from the winter months, you want to direct as much of this energy towards healing and repair as possible. The last thing you want is for your skin to be over-exfoliated and being thrown in a million different directions before it’s completely healed.
5. Use a cream or a gel, not an oil.
Natural product gurus and companies love to tell you that skin care oils are the best for your dry skin, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Skin care oils like olive oil, mustard seed oil, and soybean oil have been shown to delay barrier function significantly (Acta Pediatrica). This is the last thing you want to occur when you are suffering from dry winter skin! The effect is so significant that researchers recommend that these oils not be used in developing countries in at least one study (Acta Pediatrica). Even more alarming, “adverse ultrastructural changes were seen [in] filament, mitochondrial, nuclear, and nuclear envelope structure following a single application of mustard oil.” Wow.
The only oil from the study that was found to be beneficial for your dry winter skin? Sunflower seed oil.
So do your skin a favor this winter: Stick with a cream or a gel formula, not an oil. We recommend our AminoGenesis Therapeutic Facial Repair for the face and neck, and the AminoGenesis Cocoon Body Lotion for the body.
6. Avoid mineral oil.
On the one hand, mineral oil has been found to be beneficial for dry winter skin (Dermatitis). An occlusive agent that traps moisture into the skin, mineral oil increases skin hydration and increases skin surface lipid levels.
However, mineral oil can also cause toxic effects for the skin when used in conjunction with the wrong ingredients or conditions (Acta Pediatrica). It seems that whatever you have on your skin — good or bad — mineral oil will exacerbate the effects. And considering that your skin is dry, parched, red, and damaged to begin with, I wouldn’t dare try to preserve it with mineral oil!
7. Gently warm up your moisturizer before applying.
Heat your moisturizer slightly with a blow dryer, and touch it to test that it is not too hot. When you apply, the increased temperature will help the moisturizer penetrate more deeply into the skin, resulting in more hydration for longer periods of time!
What did you think of these tips? Care to share your own? Let us know in Comments!