6 Essential Tips For Preventing Dry Skin This Winter

Winter isn’t my favorite time of the year. The colder and drier air outside and the hotter drier air inside don’t do my hair or my oily skin any favors. In the winter my skin is constantly ashy and itchy. Not a fun time. Thankfully wintertime in the south doesn’t last for long.

As I started to pay more attention to my overall skin, the constant scratching of my legs, arms, and back; the dry cracked lips; and the tight ashy skin around my mouth, I finally had enough and decided I needed to find some solutions to help my skin get through the winter.

multiple skincare products for a winter skin regimen laying on a bathroom counter.
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Thankfully I found several solutions online and came up with a few of my own. I tried all of them out. Some of them failed but there were several successes. In this post I’m going to share the 6 essential tips I use to successfully keep my skin from drying out in the winter.

1. Stay internally hydrated

Not only do you need to hydrate the outside, but also the inside. It’s something that is easy to slack on but when done properly, it makes a big difference in how your skin looks and feels. I know I constantly find myself forgetting to drink water throughout the day. And when I don’t drink water I find my skin pays the price - it constantly looks and feels dry and no matter what I use I can’t keep it feeling hydrated for very long.

To keep me hydrated during the winter I 
  • Carry a water bottle around with me pretty much everywhere. Then I have no excuse for not drinking
  • Drink hot tea or flavored water when I get tired of regular water
  • Have soup for one of my meals. While this isn’t water I am ingesting liquid that doesn’t have lots of sugar

2. Switch to a thicker moisturizer

Using the right moisturizer for both your face and body is another key aspect of fending off dry skin in the wintertime. Look for moisturizers that
  • Have some thickness
  • Contain ingredients that hydrate and support the skin barrier like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, ceramides, glycerin, and chamomile
  • Aren’t oily

For my face, it’s a little more complicated because I have oily skin throughout the year except in the winter. In the winter my skin acts more like combination skin with the skin around my mouth more prone to drying out quicker than the rest of my face. This caused flaking and ashiness around my mouth that was hard to get rid of. 

After some trial and error, I found using face moisturizers like the Neutrogena Hydro Boost City Shield Water Gel with Broad Spectrum SPF25 which has hyaluronic acid is key.

Another thing I like to do, especially in the winter, is pat on my lotion or facial moisturizer when my skin is slightly damp. That helps to lock in the moisture from the water.

3. Exfoliate, but do it less

Yep. No matter the weather, your skin still gets rough and builds up dead skin cells so exfoliation even in the winter is a good thing. For me, it helps my skin look radiant and feel smooth. And when my skin is smoother it seems to hold moisture better and longer.

Exfoliating in the winter is a little different than in saying the summer because you don’t want to dry out your skin. So I tend to exfoliate less. During the warmer months, I try to do a facial exfoliation once a week and twice a month on my body. In the winter, I do a facial exfoliation about twice a month or less, and body exfoliation once a month or every other month.

For my face I use a skin polisher instead of a scrub like the Formula 10.0.06 It’s The Buzz Skin-Smoothing Facial Polish. I make my body scrubs by mixing sugar and natural oils. In the winter I use heavier oils which help make the scrub less harsh on my skin.

4. Lower the water temperature

It’s easy and pretty tempting in the wintertime to up the water temperature when you shower. It creates nice warm steam in the bathroom and keeps you from feeling too cold when you step out of the shower. On the negative side, the hotter the water the more you are drying out your skin.

Hot water strips the skin of the natural oils that keep it moisturized. Without the natural oils, your skin can feel itchy, and tight, and may even start to change the texture.

Despite how good it feels, I’ve found it best to fight the urge of turning the shower up past lukewarm. Since I do like the steaminess of a bathroom I will sometimes let the hot water run for a few minutes before getting in. Then I’ll turn down the water to be more lukewarm right before stepping in. 

I also don’t wash my face in the shower. Since hot water can dry out your skin and my facial skin is more sensitive I only wash my face over the sink. This way I can make sure I’m using cooler water on my face.

5. Use gentler cleansers

Winter tends to expose something we may not have realized in the summer. How harsh and drying the soaps and cleansers we’ve been using are. So harsh in fact that even turning down the water temperature may not be enough.

This has led me to re-evaluate the ingredients in your body soaps and facial cleansers. I try to stay away from ones that have a lot of sulfates in them and not a lot of moisturizers. 

For my body soap, I use Dove original moisturizing or sensitive skin bars (admittedly this is the same body soap I use all year).

My preferred brands of face cleansers are Noxzema and Cetaphil. Both have gentle or moisturizing formulas that are great for the winter.

6. Switch to hydrating masks

Hydrating masks can help give your skin a great boost of moisture. Especially on days when your skin feels like it’s drying out and nothing else is helping.

When it comes to hydrating masks you can buy them from the store. Some good ones are the Neutrogena Moisturizing Hydro Boost Hydrating Face Mask and the Burt's Bees Hydrating Overnight Face Mask.

Or you can create your own hydrating facial mask by mixing ingredients that you can find in your kitchen and bathroom. Ingredients like honey, avocado, jojoba oil, and aloe just to name a few. Just make sure you’re not using ingredients that you’re allergic to.

Bonus tips

Some additional tips for keeping your skin hydrated this winter

Carry a travel-sized lotion
Whenever I go places I make sure I have a small bottle of lotion with me. I do this all year round but I find I need it more during the winter. Whenever I wash my hands I have to apply lotion afterward. You can get small bottles of lotion at any store that carries trial or travel-sized toiletries.

I haven’t tried this yet but I’ve read it’s a great way to increase the moisture levels in the air of your house. This in turn helps your skin because the air isn’t dry, sucking the moisture out of your skin.

Water is great for hydrating so it makes sense that facial steaming would help add hydration to your skin. It helps the skin to better absorb products. When a facial steam is immediately followed by a serum or moisturizer it helps to plump the skin and allows the skin to hold on to water better. 

Still wear sunscreen
Even though summer is over and you’re getting less sun the sun is still shining so your skin still needs sun protection.

What are your winter skin care tips? Share in the comments below.