I’m standing on a crag in Newfoundland, Canada, with the summer sun gleaming, decidedly out of my element, and somehow in tune with the elements themselves all at once. As I look around me, I realize that this kind of harmony and balance is the goal—not something you really get to witness in a bubble of an urban city—and in a moment of clarity, the clouds nearly part for me to realize the true meaning of life…until, all at once, I’m rudely interrupted. My skin erupts with an itch and maddeningly ruins everything. Moment of clarity gone. Enlightenment over forever. All at the hands of dried-out skin.
With a personal vendetta out for a parched complexion, I hit the books to figure out what’s up. Studies show that those who spend more time outdoors have compromised skin barriers, so it’s no wonder my complexion was having a rough time. “Dry weather or climate change can definitely make skin drier,” says Shirley Chi, MD, a California-based dermatologist. “It takes time for skin to return to a balanced state, so every time the weather changes it can disrupt that balance and get dry and flaky.” Bingo. And now that we’re in the season of change, here’s how to deal with dry skin, according to Dr. Chi.
The dry skin toolkit
Consider the skin barrier: While I’m not battling the elements on the reg, the dryness that comes from winter alone is enough to make me rethink my moisturizing routine. “Maintaining skin wellness during winter is about reaching for richer textured creams and balms that have the right mix of natural actives, emollients, humectants, and, for extremely dry or irritated skin, occlusives,” says Amy Risely Skinfix president and CEO, whose brand does so with totally clean ingredients. Essentially, you want to opt for products that not only form a barrier through which water from the skin won’t be able to escape, you also want them to contain ingredients that draw water to the skin. Look for products that contain rich oils such as sweet almond or sunflower, colloidal oatmeal, and ceramides, which can help replenish the barrier and maintain moisture levels.
Shop barrier-replenishing balms
Don’t underestimate the power of humidity: Used to the humidity of New York City, my skin had its own standing-on-a-mountain moment, if you will, as it tried to figure out how to adapt to my new and different surroundings. While there certainly isn’t much you can do about the external aggressors and dryness (aside from slathering on double-duty moisturizing serums that also tout protective, free-radical fighting antioxidants) I’m happy to report that there are portable humidifiers that make bone-dry hotel rooms all the nicer, especially for those who battle chronic eczema. “Eczema usually worsens in the fall and winter months, when the weather becomes colder and drier,” says Dr. Chi. “The drier the weather, the more eczema can flare, which is why the colder months are worse, when people use their heaters to warm up their houses.” To combat, plug in your humidifier and slather on a HA serum a few times throughout the day.
Replenish moisture with these picks
Consider changing your showering habits: Changing up your bathing habits is also important in the fight against dry skin. “Take a shower once a day, but don’t use water that’s too hot as it can over-dry the skin. Don’t use too much soap on areas of the skin that are already dry, as it can strip your body’s natural oils,” says Dr. Chi. “Apply moisturizer on your body and face immediately after toweling off to trap humidity from the shower onto your skin. Stick with products made for sensitive skin, and a simplistic regimen.” Clarity, at last.
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