There’s a mental checklist we all run through in our heads when we’re dealing with dry skin on our bodies: Am I drinking enough water? Am I using the right hydrating ingredients (and staying away from drying ones) the shower? Am I slathering myself in body lotion morning, noon, and night? If the answer to those questions are all “yes,” “yes,” and “duh,” derms say there’s one more worth asking yourself: Am I wearing the right fabrics?
According to board-certified dermatologist, Joshua Zeichner, MD, if you’re dealing with dry skin, there are certain fabrics that can make the situation worse. His tip? “Stick to natural fibers like cotton or silk,” he says. “Synthetic fibers like polyester can actually be quite rough on the skin.” (I wish I’d known this in my junior year of college, when my polyester winter formal dress gave me a full-body rash.)
While natural fibers are always going to be your best bet, it doesn’t mean that synthetic fibers are totally out of the question during dry skin season—you just need to be sure you’re choosing wisely. “If you are choosing a synthetic, stick to viscose, which more closely mimics natural fibers,” he says. And if you can’t bear the thought of parting with all of your fast-fashion sweaters for the sake of your skin, Dr. Zeichner suggests simply layering them on over a natural fiber fabric, like a cotton T-shirt, so that the synthetic fibers aren’t in direct contact with your skin.
One more drying fabric worth watching out for? Rough wool, which happens to be a super common sweater ingredient. While it doesn’t rank quite as high on the no-no list for dry skin as polyester does, Dr. Zeichner notes “it can cause skin irritation and inflammation and aggravate conditions like eczema or rosacea.” Plus, if your skin is already parched and uncomfortable, swatching it in any sort of rough material isn’t exactly going to feel great.
Our advice? Consider this your excuse to swath yourself in silk (… or one of these cashmere sweatsuits) from now until springtime.
To understand more about why your skin could be feeling so dry, allow board-certified dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD, to school you on the subject in the video below.
If winter has got you feeling dry all over, try one of these derm-approved shower oils for more moisture. Plus, our editors’ all-time favorite body lotions, right this way.
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