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Dry Skin: Why it Happens and What You Can Do

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They may call it a winter wonderland out there, but it’s a desert for our skin. No other time of year seems to lead to so many complaints.

And it’s a problem for everyone – not just us ladies. Rough cuticles, painful cracks, chapped lips, scaly legs – male or female, dry skin is not just unattractive, but uncomfortable and even painful.

So what is it about winter? Every year, try as we might, the dry skin just seems to come back.

 

What Causes Dry Skin in Winter?

The primary reason? It’s cold outside. And when the air is cold, humidity drops, causing water in our skin to evaporate more quickly.

So let’s all take a page from the book of bears and never venture from our homes this winter. Stay wrapped up under the covers until noon, sip hot chocolate, watch all those Netflix documentaries that have been sitting in our queue for oh-so-many moons, and just let our skin drink in all the wonderful indoor moisture our furnaces provide.

Problem solved! Thanks, bears! Blog post complete. Now I can focus on other things – like why my nasal passages feel so dry right now.

Turns out hibernation isn’t the answer. Warm indoor air can be just as dry – if not drier – than the cold air outside. Indoor heating may raise the temperature, but it does nothing to help out the humidity situation. Think of it like a hairdryer.

 

Other Causes of Dry Skin

But the problem goes beyond the seasons. Causes of dry skin exist every day of our lives – winter weather just exacerbates them.

2765058152_cb1e3366a9_zOur daily shower routine can play a huge role in our skin health, and, unfortunately, it’s not always a very beneficial role. A long hot shower or bath can be one of the most relaxing experiences, but that hot water also strips our skin of moisture. It may seem contradictory – how does water cause dryness?

A post on How Stuff Works explains what’s happening in a way that’s easy to understand.

Our skin is made of three layers. The outermost, as most people know, is the epidermis and has a thin layer of oil to help keep moisture in. When we stand under a hot stream of water or immerse ourselves in a bathtub of it, that protective layer of oil is softened, making it less effective at keeping moisture in.

Certain soaps and body washes can contribute to this effect, stripping away that layer of oil. In this age of hygiene and germ-fighting, our quest for cleanliness can lead us to use products that disrupt our skin’s natural balance. Frequent use of hand sanitizers and antibacterial soaps is a big contributor to dry skin – and a number of other possible health concerns.

Shaving is another aggravating experience for our skin, along with overly aggressive scrubbing and drying. And of course, certain health conditions can cause or worsen dry skin.

But enough about why it happens – let’s take a look at what we can do about it.

What to Do About Dry Skin

1. Protect Yourself Against the Elements

Mom knew what she was talking about when she told you to wear a scarf. When skin is exposed to cold, dry air, its moisture evaporates more quickly. Cover up as best as you can – just make sure you can still see and breathe.

2. Make Your Home More Hospitable

Consider using a humidifier at home or in your office to add skin-saving moisture to the air. And don’t set the thermostat to “Tropical Island.” The more your furnace runs, the more it dries the air.

3. Modify Your Shower Routine

I know it’s difficult, but try to keep your showers short and use warm – not hot – water. Pay close attention to the products you use. Go for something natural and moisturizing that won’t wash away all of your skin’s natural oils. Natural Healthy Concepts offers a variety of body washes and bar soaps to suit different preferences.

Also go easy on the scrubbing and drying. Use soft sponges and lightly towel-dry yourself. Don’t rub yourself raw. It can be tempting to scratch at those dry patches, but it might damage the skin, creating a vicious cycle. This doesn’t mean you can’t ever exfoliate – just be gentle and don’t make exfoliating products like facial scrubs part of your daily routine.

4. Limit Your Exposure to Irritants

Pay attention to the products you use that may come in contact with your skin. Choose laundry detergents and household cleaning products free of strong, artificial fragrances and harsh chemicals. These not only erase natural oils, but also irritate the skin. You might even consider wearing gloves when doing chores.

If you’re afraid of missing your favorite fragrances like “Spring Rain Among the Cherry Blossoms on a Tuesday,” Crystal Amazonian Cascading Waterfall” or “French Countryside Just North of Paris,” don’t fret. Many natural products still offer pleasing scents – just from natural sources instead of a toxic fragrance factory.

5. Eat Right

At the root of every facet of health is a healthy diet. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables for vitamins to nourish your skin. Particularly important ones are A, E, C and B vitamins.

For healthy skin-supporting fats, try avocados, nuts and salmon. You might also consider a fish oil supplement.
And of course, drink plenty of water.

6. Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize!

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Choose a natural moisturizer and use it regularly, especially after showering and washing your hands. Look for super-moisturizing ingredients like:

  • Jojoba oil
  • Shea butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Argan oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Almond oil

Many aromatic essential oils can also be beneficial for dry skin, including:

  • Cedarwood
  • Geranium
  • Jasmine
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Myrrh
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Rosewood
  • Sandalwood

And remember, guys, moisturizers aren’t just for women. Your skin wants moisture just as badly. I’m sure the ladies would appreciate it if men paid a little more attention to their skin. Sandpaper is never romantic.

 

The selection of moisturizers out there is virtually endless. But don’t stress. As long as you choose something with quality, natural ingredients, you’ll be making the right choice. The rest comes down to personal preference.  Check out what Natural Healthy Concepts has to offer and let us know about your favorite products.

 

Featured image credit: Tender Fingers via Flickr

Second shower of the day – Fuschia Foot

Lotion and fong fingers – Chapendra

 

 

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