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Save Your Skin From Winter Dryness
Managing Moisture Prevents Winter Itch
Does the thought of winter make you itch?
You're not alone. Dry skin is very common, and for many, it is exacerbated by dry air that comes with cooling temperatures and the onset of winter, according to ADAM Health Center. But there are ways you can fight the symptoms and even prevent it.
Dry skin happens when the skin's level of sebum -- which is the natural moisture -- dissipates because of weather changes or unhealthy chemicals. But there are easy things you can do to prevent and alleviate the situation.
When showering, use cool or lukewarm water. Though hot water relaxes your muscles, it strips moisture from the surface of your skin. The best temperature is one that is cool but not unbearably cold. Some people have found that bathing also helps. If that's not an option for you, cooler water and shorter showers can make a difference, according to ADAM.
Farah Husain, an esthetician at Glo Skin Spa in Minneapolis, stresses exfoliation.
"Remember to exfoliate. When you're in the shower, use a sugar or salt scrub with an exfoliating glove or loofah. Exfoliation removes dry, dull skin," she says.
After exfoliating, your skin can absorb more of the benefits from moisturizer. But make sure the exfoliating product is gentle enough, said Rudy Miles, a global face color artist for Aveda who has worked with stars such as Susan Sarandon, Sela Ward and Cindy Crawford.
"If you choose aggressive exfoliating products or services to remove dry, flaky skin, you definitely want a rich cream to soothe and hydrate skin afterwards," he says.
Oatmeal -- Not Just For Breakfast
Oatmeal is a healing product that is found in many body washes, lotions and soaps. Go ahead and use it in a cool bath to soothe your dryness and itchiness.
"The different moisturization properties of colloidal oatmeal all help maintain skin barrier integrity, prevent water loss and alleviate itch," says Dr. Janine B. Downie M.D., the director of image dermatology for Aveeno.
Look At Labels
Just as you check labels to make sure the food you are eating is healthy, you should also check the ingredient labels of your soap, body wash and moisturizer. If there are many ingredients with names you cannot pronounce, consider another, more natural product.
Fragrances can also be irritating. If you must use a scented product, make sure the fragrance is near the bottom of the ingredient list, the experts say. Miles and Husain stress label checking for another ingredient – alcohol.
"Don't use toners with a high level of alcohol. If it feels like it is deep-cleaning your skin, you shouldn't use it," Husain says.
Put lotion onto your skin as soon as you get out of the shower to keep it smooth and hydrated.
"Make sure to apply moisturizer immediately. It allows the moisturizer to actually absorb into the skin if you've recently exfoliated," Husain says.
If your skin still begs to be scratched after your lotion soaks in, it may be time to try something a bit different. Baby oil and sesame oil lock moisture into your skin and provide a silky-smooth texture.
Miles offers another suggestion: "Jojoba oil is a great plant-based ingredient which is lightweight and closest to the sebum found in our skin. Dry skin lacks its natural oils, and plant oil-based products help balance it."
Your face could be the first part of your body to show signs of dryness. It also takes on harsh elements such as temperature and wind. Add to that the dry heat in most buildings, and flaky skin near your nose and brow line would hardly be a surprise. Combat this dryness with a special facial moisturizer. It provides extra protection against wind, dry heat, low temperatures and intense sun exposure.
Miles explains how to properly apply facial moisturizer.
"Most of us apply moisturizer by spreading (it around) first in the palm of our hands and then onto our skin. This method delivers less product to the face as most is absorbed into the palms." He explains, "A better technique is to apply the product to the fingertips and gently pat it into the skin."
Kick Your Vices
Beauty starts from within, and dry skin can be caused by internal issues. Alcohol can dehydrate you, and if your internal organs are dehydrated, think of what that must be doing for your largest organ, your skin.
Cigarettes can also make dry skin worse. Cigarette smoke and tar deprive the skin of the nutrients and oxygen it needs, says Dr. John Gray of the Proctor & Gamble Skin Care Research Center.
Supplements can help as well. Husain suggests dry skin sufferers take a rose hip supplement to combat dry skin from the inside out.
If none of these solutions seem to help, make an appointment with your dermatologist. Dry skin can be a sign of a more serious condition such as eczema.
Prevention is key to avoiding dry skin. If you're already dealing with it, the above methods help to alleviate the itch. Husain said her top skin protection tip is to use a humidifier.
"Put it on your nightstand, next to your bed. It acts as a skin treatment while you sleep," she says.
Now you can take care of your skin, minimize the dry-skin itch and have it looking luminous in time for your holiday party or winter vacation.
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