Struggling with Dry Skin? The 7 Culprits You Never Suspected
While winter and dry skin go hand in hand, you don’t have to put up with dry, flaky skin for the entirety of the chilly season. With the right skincare products and a few lifestyle tweaks, you can definitely get your complexion back to its dewiest version.
Slather on your lotions and creams by all means, but don’t forget that to get the most out of these products, you need to make sure your entire skincare routine supports healthy skin this winter.
To get your skin back to its smooth and sheeny best, take a look at some of the common culprits behind dry skin.
#1: The Soap You Suds up with
You may not even realize it but the soap you lather up with in the shower every day might be causing dryness. Harsh soaps are known for stripping the skin of its natural oils and leave it feeling tight, itchy, and dry.
“Many soaps, detergents, and shampoos subtract moisture from your skin and scalp, as they are formulated to remove oil,” says board-certified dermatopathologist Gretchen Frieling, MD.
Even your daily face wash and body cleanser can be extremely dehydrating if they’re formulated with skin parching sulfates and surfectants.
The Fix: Invest in a gentle and hydrating cleanser that contains nourishing ingredients like aloe, green tea, vitamin E, and coconut oil. Ideally, try to choose face washes and body cleansers that are fragrance-free.
#2: Your Long, Hot Showers
It’s obviously tempting to crank up the temperature in the shower, especially on those particularly chilly days. According to dermatologists, exposing skin to hot water can strip away its natural, protective oils, leaving skin prone to dryness.
“If you expose your skin to hot water for an extended amount of time, it's more prone to becoming dry, red and itchy,” says Rick Woodin, lead dermatologist at ZO Skinhealth.
The Fix: The best solution is to lower the temperature so that you’re showering in lukewarm water instead of hot water. It’s also best to keep your showers as short as possible to prevent comprising the skin barrier.
#3: You’re Skipping Moisturizer - or Not Using the Right One
The moment you step out of the shower or bath and pat skin dry, you should immediately be applying moisturizer. Your hydrating serums and moisturizing creams will absorb the best when applied to slightly damp skin, which is why the derms recommend slathering them on as soon as you finish showering.
That said, you should also be using the right moisturizer. Try to choose one designed for your skin type, and use a separate one for your face and body. If you’ve got dry skin, you can choose a richer formula enriched with powerhouse hydrators like hyaluronic acid, shea butter, ceramides, glycerin, and coconut oil. Those with acne-prone skin should opt for something lighter and non-comedogenic.
#4: Over Exfoliation
Exfoliating the skin is important for sloughing away dead skin cells — and ultimately brightening skin, diminishing discoloration, and allowing skincare products to penetrate deeper. Too much exfoliation, on the other hand, can cause adverse affects like dry, itchy skin. If you’ve got sensitive skin, over exfoliating can leave your skin feeling sore and inflamed.
The Fix: It doesn’t matter whether you’re using scrubs or chemical exfoliants, make sure you’re using them sparingly (2-3 times a week) to avoid irritating and drying out your skin. One of our favorite formulas for providing gentle exfoliation is our Glow Mask, which contains glycolic acid and bakuchiol to buff away dry, rough skin.
#5: Your Living Space Lacks Moisture
Throughout the winter months, you probably crank your central heating up high to stay warm and snuggly in your quarters. The problem with central heating is that it can sap your skin of moisture, leaving skin dry, itchy, and flaking.
The Fix: You have a couple of options. You can either try placing bowls of water near your radiators to counteract the drying effects of your central heating. Or, invest in a humidifier which will exert moisture back into the air, keeping skin smooth, soft, and flake-free. To get the most out of your humidifier, try to place it in the room you spend the most time, like your bedroom or office.
#6: The Topical Treatments You Slather on
Certain active ingredients can contribute to dry, dehydrated skin. One of the most common culprits is retinol, a powerhouse anti-aging ingredient known for softening fine lines and wrinkles. While it’s perfectly fine to use retinol all year-round, overusing it or using a too high concentration of it can cause side effects such as dryness, redness, and flaking. If your skin’s naturally on the drier side, over applying retinol won’t help the situation.
The Fix: Limit your use of active ingredients such as retinol and exfoliating acids (AHAs and BHAs) until your skin recovers. In the meantime, nourish your skin with hydrating, antioxidant-rich formulas that support your skin’s recovery.
#7: A Skin Condition
Skin issues like eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis can make your skin more prone to dryness. If you’re experiencing chronic dry skin (Xerosis), it may also indicate a medical condition like diabetes or hypothyroidism.
The Fix: Speak to a skincare expert or healthcare professional who can determine whether you’re suffering from a skin or medical condition. They may be able to prescribe topical or oral medication that can help ease your symptoms and make your life more comfortable.
In addition to following the skincare tips above, we also recommend wearing sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher every day. This will help protect your skin and prevent further dryness. Alongside this, remember to hydrate your lips too with an emollient-rich lip balm or butter.