The air is getting crisp, the temperatures are dropping, and gone are the glowing, dewey complexions of summer. It's officially dry skin season, thanks to the cold weather, artificial heat, and our love of long hot showers on a brisk morning. When it comes to dry skin, particularly on your face, the trick is to play it smart with a few healthy lifestyle changes and a clever skincare strategy. Read on for the definitive guide to preventing, soothing, and dealing with dry skin this fall (and winter).
Even if you're not typically prone to dry skin, you’re bound to feel a little taut once the colder weather arrives. Dry skin is often temporary (meaning you get it seasonally, for example) but it may be a lifelong condition. Signs and symptoms of dry skin can include a feeling of skin tightness, skin that feels and looks rough, itching, flaking, fine lines, grey or ashy skin and redness. Dry skin means that your face can't protect itself as well as it should from the environment. When the skin is dry, it develops tiny cracks in the outer layer, interfering with its ability to maintain hydration properly.
What is it exactly that’s drying out our faces? There are many reasons why skin becomes dry, but fundamentally, it happens when the skin’s surface becomes aggravated and steadily dismantled. Genetics, environmental damage, your health and lifestyle factors can all have an impact on this, and since the skin on your face is inherently more sensitive, and also tends to be more exposed than the rest of your body, it’s all the more susceptible to these damaging factors. As a result, your skin will appear dryer, duller, and fine lines and wrinkles will be more visible.
One of the easiest ways to arm yourself against dry skin is to keep a humidifier in your space. Increasing the moisture in the air will help prevent your skin from drying out. Keep it in your bedroom and run it every night while you sleep (even while it’s still semi-warm outside) to keep your skin hydrated for the days ahead.
Bolster your diet with foods like fish, olive oil, flax seeds, and avocados. Foods that are rich in omega-3s and fatty acids will help replace natural fats lost in cold weather. Avoiding ingredients like refined carbohydrates (white bread, pasta, dried fruit) and dairy will further stave off inflammation, and in turn, dryness. Bes sure not to overdo it with alcohol or caffeine, both of which cause dehydration. And during the cold weather especially, it’s extra important to keep your system as hydrated as possible so drink tons of water.
When choosing a cleanser, look for one that's made with hydrating ingredients like rosehip seed oil to support hydration and elasticity and provide a youthful plump look to your skin, resulting in an overall smoother and more radiant complexion.
Dedicating a few minutes to exfoliation will give you a leg up when the humidity drops below your comfort level. When skin gets dry, dead skin cells pile up, making it impossible for any moisturizer to penetrate. For beautifully healthy skin use a gentle exfoliant, ideally an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), once or twice a week to help remove the surface layers of dead skin. This exfoliation ritual will prep the surface of your skin for serums and moisturizers.
Tailor your retinol usage to every other day during the colder months. While it’s undoubtedly the anti-aging superhero ingredient, it’s also a strong exfoliant and can cause extra dryness during the winter.
An antioxidant serum should be used year-round, regardless of the climate. Your skin is always under attack byfree radicals, which causes sun spots, the breakdown of collagen, and premature wrinkles. To prevent this damage, apply a vitamin C antioxidant serum as a first layer in the morning after washing your face.
One of the most obvious yet commonly overlooked steps in the dry skin game is switching out your moisturizer for a heavier option. Now is the time to hit your skin with hydration, hydration, hydration. Dry skin is lacking oils and needs a huge helping hand in replacing them. Choose a rich moisturizer that contains lots of antioxidants to help rejuvenate cells without stripping your moisture levels. Hyaluronic acid is critical in maintaining skin hydration, as it turns your skin into a water-absorbing super sponge.
Masking should be a part of every skincare routine, but in the case of dry skin, it’s a must.
Use a hydrating mask three times a week, and leave on for at least 20 minutes (if not overnight) for the extra nourishing benefits.
These tips will help you battle through the colder months and combatthe most common fall and winter skin concerns.