Dry skin in winter

Top 10 Causes of Dry Skin

Dry skin is one of the most common conditions I see in my office. In fact, most of us at one time or another have dry skin somewhere on our bodies, in the form of flaky patches, cracked skin, and, in more severe cases, itchy red patches (a condition called eczema). Luckily, many causes of dry skin are within our control, and with some extra effort we can alleviate the symptoms, prevent it from coming back, and help our skin look and feel softer, smoother, and more beautiful.

Read on to learn more about the top 10 causes of dry skin — and what to do about it.

1) Winter weather: Dry skin is especially common in the winter months, when the humidity level outside drops. When the air outside is cold and dry, the water in your skin evaporates more quickly; this makes your skin feel dry and tight, and makes it look flaky. In fact, your skin loses more than 25 percent of its ability to hold moisture in the winter. Windy weather (especially if you enjoy winter sports) can also beat down on your skin and make it look and feel dry and chapped. Some of my patients refer to this condition as “winter skin.”

The solution: Protect your skin by wearing protective clothing, gloves, and scarves to shield it from the elements. Be sure to apply a rich moisturizing lotion that contains ingredients like glycerin that help hold moisture in your skin, and pay special attention to your hands, feet, elbows, and knees.

2) Indoor heating: Many of us spend more time inside in the winter and use indoor heating. Dry indoor air not only dries out your skin, it also dries out your mucous membranes, leading to dry, chapped lips, dry noses (nosebleeds), and dry throat (hoarseness, sore throat).

The solution: Set your heater to the lowest setting that’s comfortable, and use a humidifier, especially at night. This will replace the moisture in the air that gets sucked out by dry indoor heat. The humidifier helps hydrate dry skin and soothes chapped lips, dry throat, and nasal passages.

3) Long hot showers and baths: A long hot bath or shower may sound great after being out in the cold, but the combination of hot water and soaking can strip your skin of its protective oils and leave you looking like an alligator.

The solution: Try to shower or bathe in warm, not hot water, and limit showers and baths to 10 minutes, just enough to clean the dirty bits. Pat dry — don’t rub — with a soft towel.

4) Not using body lotion: It might be tempting to skip the body lotion when your skin is covered up in winter clothing, but it’s just as important to moisturize in the winter as it is in the summer, even if your arms and legs aren’t on display. Dry skin can get itchy, flaky, and uncomfortable if you don’t use the right lotion.

The solution: Apply a rich body lotion immediately after showering to lock in moisture. Apply again before going outside and before going to bed. Look for ingredients like glycerin, which holds moisture in your skin and fights dehydration.

5) Frequent hand washing: Dry, chapped hands are often caused by frequent hand washing, as well as the use of hand sanitizers, which often have a high concentration of alcohol. Although it’s important to keep your hands clean to avoid spreading germs, the exposure to soap and water and alcohol can strip your skin of its natural oils, leading to chapped hands, splits, and cracks that can bleed or even get infected.

The solution: Carry your own moisturizing liquid hand soap. (The soap in public restrooms is often very harsh and drying.) Rub on a rich hand cream after each washing or after using hand sanitizer, and cover moisturized hands with gloves at bedtime. When gardening, doing dishes, or working around the house, wear protective gloves.

6) Harsh bar soaps: Many bar soaps, especially deodorant soaps, contain detergents that remove your skin’s natural oils, leaving it dry and more sensitive.

The solution: Switch to a moisturizing, fragrance-free body wash that leaves your skin soft, not stripped. Save the bar soap for your feet and armpits.

7) Being dehydrated: You might not be as thirsty in the winter as you are in the summer months when you’re hot and sweaty. However, you lose water through your skin every day, in any season — even when it’s cold and even if you don’t feel like you’re sweating. This is especially true if you spend a lot of time in dry indoor heat. Our bodies are made of 70 percent water, which keeps our cells plump and healthy. If you’re not drinking enough, your body (and your skin) gets dehydrated, which can make you look and feel shriveled.

The solution: Make sure you’re getting plenty of fluids in the wintertime, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid caffeinated drinks, which will make you lose even more water. Instead, stick to water, soup, decaf coffee and tea, and herbal tea.

8) Not eating the right foods: Your skin cells are wrapped in a protective bubble of lipids (fats) that help keep them soft, plump, and flexible. If you don’t eat enough fatty acids in your diet, your body won’t have enough building blocks to maintain this protective wrap.

The solution: Eating foods that contain “good fats” (especially omega-3 fatty acids) can help replenish your skin’s natural fats and keep it looking smooth and supple. Make sure to include plenty of omega-3-rich foods in your diet, including oily fish (such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel). If you’re allergic or can’t stand the taste of fish, try incorporating tofu, walnuts, flaxseeds, soybeans, or omega-3-fortified foods (like orange juice) into your diet every day. In addition, some people with dry skin and itchy rashes can benefit from evening primrose oil supplements.

9) Wearing the wrong clothing: Scratchy fibers like wool can aggravate dry skin, especially for those who have sensitive skin or eczema rashes. In fact, if you look under the microscope, these fibers look like little pieces of steel wool that can irritate your skin, leaving it itchy and irritated.

The solution: Wear cotton, silk, or other soft, smooth fabrics next to your skin to protect it from wool fibers. These natural fibers help your skin “breathe” and wick away sweat. If you must wear a wool sweater, layer a soft cotton T-shirt or turtleneck underneath. This way you can also peel off the sweater if it gets warm indoors, so you don’t overheat and sweat.

10) Licking your lips: Frequent lip licking may feel good temporarily, but eventually it dries out your lips as the saliva evaporates. In addition, using matte or long-wearing lipsticks can also leave your lips dry, chapped, and cracked.

The solution: Look for a rich lip ointment or lip butter in a pot, which is more emollient than a waxy lip balm stick. Apply under lipstick, throughout the day, and before bedtime to protect against dry indoor heat. This will also remind you not to lick your lips! If you wear lip color, switch to a gloss or creamy lipstick, and avoid plumping lip glosses which contain irritating ingredients that can make them drier.

Why does skin get dry in winters?


Dry skin is especially common in the winter months, when the humidity level outside drops. When the air outside is cold and dry, the water in your skin evaporates more quickly; this makes your skin feel dry and tight, and makes it look flaky. In fact, your skin loses more than 25 percent of its ability to hold moisture in the winter. Windy weather (especially if you enjoy winter sports) can also beat down on your skin and make it look and feel dry and chapped. Some of my patients refer to this condition as “winter skin.”

Many of us spend more time inside in the winter and use indoor heating. Dry indoor air not only dries out your skin, it also dries out your mucous membranes, leading to dry, chapped lips, dry noses (nosebleeds), and dry throat (hoarseness, sore throat).

A long hot bath or shower may sound great after being out in the cold, but the combination of hot water and soaking can strip your skin of its protective oils and leave you looking like an alligator.



Jojoba oil

has emollient properties. Emollients fill the spaces between skin cells, creating a smooth surface. That’s why the saturated fatty acids that occur naturally in the jojoba can hydrate and smooth the skin.

You can use jojoba oil daily on even the most sensitive parts of the body. These include the area underneath your eyes and around your mouth. Another advantage of jojoba oil is that you don’t need to mix it with anything. Jojoba is gentle enough for substantial everyday use.


When your skin is dry, it means you’re exposing it to elements that are damaging skin cells faster than your body can repair them. Foods rich in antioxidants can minimize damage from toxins and help your body make healthy cells. Some of the foods that contribute to skin health include:

  • blueberries
  • tomatoes
  • carrots
  • beans
  • peas
  • lentils

Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, may also be a contributor to a glowing-skin diet.


Hands tend to experience the most direct contact with environmental irritants. These include dish soap and laundry detergent. Your hands also take a lot of abuse when temperatures drop and you’re working outside in the cold. Wearing insulated gloves while doing household chores, or when you’re outside in extreme temperatures can cut down on dry, irritated skin.


Keeping a humidifier in your home can help minimize the dryness caused by home heating systems. Though gas and electric heat strip moisture from the air, a humidifier set to 60 percent is enough to offset this effect.

Milk cream

Mix a few drops of lemon juice, one teaspoon of milk and two teaspoons of milk cream. Rub it on your hands and legs. Leave it on for a while before you take a shower. Do this once daily.Add enough milk cream to three to four tablespoons of gram flour to make a thick paste. Apply the paste on your face, hands and legs. Leave it on for 15 minutes and then rinse it off with lukewarm water. Do this once daily.


Avocados are rich in natural oils and potassium, high in protein and contain both Vitamins A, B, D, E, and K.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera has soothing, antiseptic and antifungal properties that can help combat dry, irritated skin and prevent flaking. This simple remedy will moisturize your skin and form a protective layer that will keep your skin free from any kind of impurities.

Take care of your skin 🙂

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A Guide to Winter Skin

What causes winter skin?

Chapped, cracked and flakey skin is primarily caused by exposure to a dry environment. Outdoor air is drier in the winter time because colder air has a lower moisture-carrying capacity. In fact, air at 86 degrees Fahrenheit can hold three times more moisture than air at 50 degrees. In addition to colder, drier outside air, indoor air is often stripped of moisture by heating systems.

Certain areas of skin are more vulnerable to dryness because of a reduced ability to produce natural oils. While back and face skin contain a significant amount of oil-producing glands, legs have far fewer and lips don’t have any at all. When skin cells dry out, they don’t shed as quickly, causing buildup of thicker, flakey patches. Thickened skin doesn’t retain water as well as moist skin, which causes a kind of vicious dryness cycle. Exposure to cold, dry wind and UV radiation (reflecting especially strongly from snow) can further worsen the problem.

Are there any dangers of winter skin?

Frost bite

In addition to the everyday nuisance of dry skin, there are some more concerning winter skin conditions. Extended exposure to freezing temperatures can cause frost bite, a type of permanent damage to skin and underlying tissue. Just as water can break a glass container if left in the freezer for too long, our body’s cells (which have high water content) will burst and die if frozen. For this reason it’s extremely important to take precautions against frost bite if you’re planning to be outside for extended periods in sub-32-degree weather. Pay special attention to your hands and feet as they are farthest from the warmth of the body’s core and will freeze before other areas. Some of the first signs of impending frost bite include pain in the tips of fingers and toes when they are rewarmed. This stage of cold damage is reversible and is known as chill blains. With further exposure, chill blains can become frost bite and, in extreme cases, may require amputation of the damaged tissue.

Sun damage

Ultraviolet radiation from the sun can cause sunburn and skin damage in the winter, especially when rays reflect off of snow. It is a common misconception that sunblock is only needed when the weather is warm or the sky is clear. Radiation exposure can occur at any time of year, even on cloudy days. Without protecting your eyes from UV rays, you can also get “sunburn of the eyes,” often known as “snow blindness.” Of course, exposure to UV radiation permanently increases the risk of skin cancers.


Another complication of dry skin is potential infection. The skin is normally colonized with bacteria that are harmless unless they get into our tissues and blood stream. Cracked skin can provide an entry way for bacteria to invade, and this is further aggravated by scratching (common when skin is dry and itchy). If you notice pain or redness developing in an area where you have been scratching or have cracked skin, this could be a sign of a bacterial skin infection called “cellulitis.” The treatment for cellulitis is antibiotics so it’s important to contact your doctor if you think you might have a skin infection.

Nose bleeds

Finally, winter air can promote nose bleeds by exposing delicate blood vessels (found in the nasal mucosa) to extreme dryness, damaging the vessel walls. In most cases, nose bleeds are not dangerous and will resolve on their own with some gentle pressure. In more severe cases (such as for people on blood-thinning medications), a healthcare professional will need to pack the nose with cotton gauze to stop the bleeding.

Can I prevent winter skin problems?

The good news is that most winter skin problems (including the more dangerous ones) can be prevented. Air humidifiers can improve the moisture levels in your home or work environment, while saline nasal sprays can reduce the likelihood of nose bleeds. Covering your skin with warm clothing and reducing your exposure to outdoor cold can help. However, the foundation of dry winter skin prevention and treatment is good skin care.

What is the best skincare regimen for winter skin?


There are a large variety of skincare options for preventing and treating winter skin. Treatments are generally designed to moisturize and/or exfoliate dry skin, while some products also combine sunscreen or anti-blemish ingredients. Be sure to check the Drug Facts label on over-the-counter (OTC) skin care products to learn if the product contains active ingredients (medicines). If the product has no Drug Facts label (but just an ingredient list) then this means that it does not have an indication evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. That does not necessarily mean that they don’t “work,” but rather that their ingredients haven’t been evaluated by the FDA in regards to medical effects.

A general rule of thumb is that moisturizing creams are best for mild dryness, oils for moderate dryness and ointment for severe dryness. Common moisturizing ingredients include oils (mineral, castor, jojoba, almond, sunflower, soybean, olive, grape seed, coconut, argan and others), glycerine (a sugar alcohol), petrolatum (mineral oil jelly from petroleum), dimethicone (a type of silicone), nut butters (cocoa, shea) and waxes (palm, soy, bee, lanolin). Most moisturizers contain several additive ingredients to preserve their shelf life and keep them sanitary.


Since dry skin sloughs off more slowly, moisturizers may include an acid product that can help to remove dead skin cells. Ingredients such as lactic acid, stearic acid, glycolic acid, and hyaluronic acid may help with exfoliation. Some creams include microbeads or ground apricot shells or tree bark to help rub off dead cells. Luffa or mesh body sponges and pumice stones are also commonly used to help remove unwanted dead skin.

Sensitive skin

As far as sensitive skin is concerned, there are products made specifically without perfumes, dyes, lanolins, parabens and formaldehydes. If you have skin allergies to certain ingredients, try looking for products that are fragrance-free, dermatologist-tested, hypo-allergenic or non-irritating. Most labels will display those claims on the front of the product.

Are there other tips for avoiding the complications of winter skin?

Shower tips

The best time to apply moisturizer is immediately after a shower or bath. This locks in the water that is still surrounding your skin cells with a layer of oil, cream or ointment. Avoiding harsh soaps is also important when you have winter skin because they can be especially irritating to chapped or cracked skin. Look for “soap free” body washes or cleansing products that contain moisturizers.

Clothing tips

Bundle up to protect your skin from cold wind and dry air exposure. Scarves can be worn over the face and neck to protect delicate skin from being stripped of moisture, while gloves and boots are important to protect fingers and toes from chill blains and frost bite. Keep scratchy fabrics (such as wool) out of direct contact with cracked or dry skin.

Staying hydrated

Dehydration causes skin to sag and pull away from the underlying muscle. Dry air can dehydrate the body through evaporation without your being aware of it. Skin cells thrive in moisture rich tissues, and so drinking water is one of the best ways to hydrate our skin.

When to call a doctor

It’s important to contact your doctor immediately if you think you may have a dangerous winter skin condition such as cellulitis, frost bite or a nose bleed that will not stop. An eye care professional can discuss UV protection with contact lenses and sunglasses, while your dermatologist or primary care physician can provide helpful advice regarding how to optimize your skincare regimen for allergies or worsening underlying skin conditions due to dryness.

By being proactive in protecting yourself from the cold, humidifying the air, avoiding harsh soaps and coarse fabrics, staying hydrated and selecting the best moisturizing, sunscreen and exfoliation regimen, you can keep your skin supple and moist year-round!

It’s no secret that harsh winter weather can wreak havoc on your skin, caused by bitter cold temperatures and dry air that deplete its natural moisture. But the right routine and a few key changes to your go-to habits and products can help keep both face and body skin soft, hydrated, and supple, rather than cracked, parched, and chapped.

Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab scientists and top skincare experts share their best science-backed advice for getting rid of, treating, and taking care of dry skin in the winter to help it feel smooth, relieved, and nourished 24/7 from head to toe through the season and beyond.

1. Don’t take super-hot (or long) showers

Nothing sounds better than a steaming hot shower or bath on a cold day, but hot water is actually the enemy of dry winter skin. “Too much hot water causes increased evaporation of your skin’s natural hydration,” explains Anne Chapas, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City.

And keep it short, adds GH Beauty Lab Director Birnur Aral, Ph.D.: All you need is about 10 minutes. To make your shower more moisturizing, swap parching soaps and gels for a body cleansing oil or bath oil with fatty acid-rich soybean oil or other plant oils to fortify and protect skin’s moisture barrier. A Beauty Lab favorite: Eucerin Skin Calming Body Wash, made with soybean and castor seed oils as the first two ingredients.

2. Use a thicker moisturizer in the winter

After your shower, use a soft towel to pat skin dry and apply a hydrating moisturizer. Opt for a cream or balm that’s thicker than the lotion you use during the summer. The thicker texture “seals moisturizing ingredients into dry, cracked, flaking skin,” Dr. Chapas says, helping them adhere for long-term, intense healing. She suggests using balms and salves with silicone, petrolatum, lanolin, and natural oils.

For dry skin on the face, GH Beauty Lab senior chemist Sabina Wizemann recommends layering moisturizer with a hydrating serum packed with hyaluronic acid and glycerin, which can help increase moisturization, such as No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Serum.

3. Moisturize multiple times a day

It’s important to slather yourself in moisturizer in the morning and before you snooze, starting with your face. Before you put on pajamas, rub a hydrating body cream all over from your neck down to your feet (slip on socks to help the formula soak in). It’ll function the same way a night cream for your face does, softening skin and keeping moisture in as you sleep. Try GH Beauty Lab test winner Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair Unscented Body Lotion, which increased skin’s hydration by near-record 60 percent in Lab evaluations.

4. But only wash your face once per day

In the winter, switch to one wash at night so you don’t dry out your skin. And what type of cleanser you use matters, too: Foaming and gel face washes can leave skin squeaky-clean, but also parched due to their stronger cleansing ingredients.

Instead, opt for a gentler cleansing oil or micellar water cleanser, which are less likely to contain the harsh surfactants that can dehydrate skin. For extremely dry skin, try a cleansing balm, which are rich, waterless formulas based on butters (like shea) and oils that soften skin as they purify and double as makeup remover. Try GH Beauty Award winner Pond’s Cold Cream Makeup Remover Cleansing Balm.

5. Skip the toner

Astringents, often made with alcohol to absorb oil, are best for balmier months when you’re more sweat-prone because they can exacerbate dryness, explains Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC.

Can’t pass up that refreshing toner feeling? Try spritzing on an alcohol-free face mist with hydrating ingredients such as natural oils and glycerin, like GH beauty editor favorite L’Occitane Immortelle Precious Face Essential Mist. Or, make your own DIY face mist by shaking 2 cups of water with 10 drops of soothing chamomile essential oil in a small spray bottle, says Samantha Cooper, spa director at Canyon Ranch Lenox.

6. Exfoliate in moderation

The last thing raw, dehydrated, winter-worn skin needs is a harsh, abrasive scrub or peel (or even loofah or cleansing sponge), which can further deplete moisture and worsen irritation. If you notice flaking or redness when you exfoliate, swap in a gentler face peel formula with lactic acid or fruit acids or face scrub with round jojoba beads, which are less likely to be dehydrating to skin. Steer clear of stronger acids like glycolic acid and rougher exfoliants like sugar and salt, and use your exfoliator no more than once per week, the GH Beauty Lab recommends.

Swap more abrasive cleansing tools like scratchy loofahs, sponges, or body brushes for softer washcloths, which are less likely to disturb skin’s hydration barrier, and lightly dab your face and body dry with your towel rather than rubbing. Avoid scratching skin, too. No matter how itchy your dryness is, scratching can damage skin’s surface and cause more moisture loss. Instead, dab a hydrating ointment or balm on the area to immediately calm and protect it.

7. Humidify your home

Don’t go to sleep without one. The heat that keeps you warm in your home is also very dry, and because the windows are closed, it stays trapped inside. Use a humidifier to add moisture back into the air, recommends Rachel Rothman, GH Institute chief technologist and director of engineering. Try the GH Institute Engineering Lab’s humidifiers test winner Honeywell Germ-free Cool Mist Humidifier and other top-tested picks for best humidifiers.

8. Moisturize all over

Dove Dermaseries Fragrance-Free Hand Cream for Dry Skin Dove Dermaseries amazon.com $12.34

Areas of your body like the hands and feet can easily be missed, but are also prone to dehydration. Skin on the feet is thicker, so can build up with dry, rough layers of dead skin, and skin on the hands is constantly exposed to the elements (cold, wind) and repeated hand washing, which can deplete skin’s moisture.

Keep hands and feet soft and hydrated all winter long by slathering on a rich hand cream (like GH Beauty Lab hydrating hand creams test winner Dove DermaSeries Dry Skin Relief Replenishing Hand Cream), and a top-rated foot cream (like Burt’s Bees Coconut Foot Cream) before you go bed at night. Then, slip on socks or gloves: The fabric and heat inside them will help the formula absorb into skin.

9. Drink up!

Proper hydration is directly related to skin cell regeneration, GH Nutrition Lab experts say, which is key to a glow. Aim to sip eight to 10 cups per day of unsweetened beverages such as water (including sparkling or fruit-infused), tea, and coffee. That said, unless your body is dehydrated, drinking more water than you need won’t help moisturize your skin, so there’s no need to guzzle gallons (unless you want to!).

10. Don’t skip your lips

Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1 Kiehl’s nordstrom.com $10.00

The skin on your lips is thinner than the rest of your face, making it more susceptible to damage from the harsh winter elements. To replenish hydration and protect them, it’s especially crucial to wear balm at night, when indoor heat and even breathing through your mouth can exacerbate dryness. When you apply your face and body moisturizers nightly, smooth on a coat of a rich lip balm as well to fend off flakes and chapping.

But not all lip balms are created equal (which is why some may not seem to work well or at all). To find the most effective formula, Aral suggests looking for both moisturizing and occlusive ingredients, which form a protective barrier to lock in the nourishment and hydrate, like Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1.

11. Add an extra layer of skin care

To treat and cure extremely dry skin patches, such as around the eyes and on the cheeks, try this Beauty Lab and dermatologist-approved trick: Dab on a thick ointment like GH Seal star Aquaphor as a last step in your skincare routine. It acts as an occlusive, sealing in moisture and skin care and protecting skin from dehydration. For optimal effects, apply once any other products are already absorbed and rub in with fingers to help it soak in.

GH Beauty Lab Winter Skin Favorites Blake Bakkila Associate Editor Blake is the Associate Editor for GoodHousekeeping.com covering beauty, celebrity, holiday entertaining, and other lifestyle news. April Franzino Beauty Director April Franzino is the Beauty Director at Good Housekeeping, part of the Hearst Women’s Lifestyle Beauty Group.

Dry Skin in Winter Months

The first step in treating dry skin is identifying the cause. Winter weather is a common cause of dry skin. But if your skin is extremely dry, you may want to talk to your doctor about other possible issues.

Your doctor may be able to help you discover why your skin is dry and how to avoid it. For example, they may advise you to avoid contact with certain products or chemicals.

The following strategies may also help you manage dry skin.

Use less hot water

When you’re trying to rehydrate your skin, it may seem like a good idea to soak in lots of water. But water can actually make dry skin worse, especially if you use hot, soapy water. Too much washing can strip the protective oils from your skin, leaving it vulnerable to drying.

Keep your baths and showers short — 10 minutes or less — and use warm water rather than hot.

Use minimal soap

Using too much soap or hand sanitizers too often can also cause your skin to dry out. Use soap and hand sanitizers sparingly.

Only apply soap when and where you need it, such as under your arms, in your groin area, and on your feet. Choose mild, fragrance-free options that are designed to be less drying.


Skin moisturizers are important weapons in your arsenal for fighting dry skin. The right moisturizers can help you treat and prevent dry skin. There are four basic types of moisturizers that are available without a prescription.

Ointment moisturizers tend to trap the most moisture in your skin, but sometimes they can feel greasy. Petroleum jelly (Vaseline) is an example of this type of moisturizer.

Shop for ointment moisturizers online.

Oil moisturizers tend to be less greasy than ointments, but they’re still effective at fighting dry skin. Examples include baby oil, mineral oil, and bath oil.

Shop for oil moisturizers online.

Cream moisturizers tend to be more popular than other types of ointments or oils because your skin absorbs them more easily. Examples include hand creams.

Shop for cream moisturizers online.

Lotion moisturizers generally feel the least greasy. But they can be less moisturizing than the other options because of their higher alcohol content.

Shop for lotion moisturizers online.

After you wash your skin, pat it dry. Then apply your ointment, oil, cream, or lotion right away. Moisturizing right after washing can help you trap as much moisture as possible in your skin.

During the winter, I spend a good chunk of my morning cursing the outdoors. At this point, it’s pretty much part of my daily routine: wake up, eat, yell at the cold, go to work. No matter how many creams and oils I slather on my face, I inevitably end up with dry, flaking skin. And if you’ve ever tried to apply makeup to shedding skin, you know that the struggle is real and the results are often terrible. So I asked Susie Sobol, a makeup artist in New York City, for her tricks for dealing with dry skin…without the morning drama.

Prep the skin. The first step to a flake-free face is to use a light exfoliant and a rich moisturizer. “A rice powder is a wonderful way to slough off any surface dryness that would normally cause foundation to clump,” says Sobol, who loves Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant. “A half teaspoon mixed with water creates a beautiful creamy cleanser that will deflake the skin gently,” she adds. Next, and most obviously, moisturize (and then moisturize again). Sobol recommends anything from La Mer or Embryolisse, or use a high-grade dry oil, like coconut, jojoba, or maracuja. Before applying makeup, let your moisturizer sink in for three to four minutes, then pat away any excess shine with a tissue.

Pick the right products. “Start with a hydrating, water-based foundation, like M.A.C. Studio Face and Body, and pair it with a highlighting concealer, like The Retoucher pen from Charlotte Tilbury, to make dry skin under the eyes and nose glow,” says Sobol. “For a perfectly melted-in finish, use your fingers to apply the foundation and concealer. If you’re using a full-coverage foundation, pat a little facial oil on top of your cheekbones to keep your skin looking soft and supple,” she adds.

Put down the powder. “I think the biggest mistake people make in the winter is using heavy products with a powder base, like foundation powders or mineral foundations,” says Sobol. “These products can clog pores and lie on top of dry surfaces, causing the skin to look pasty and heavily made-up,” she adds. For blush, which is a must for waking up dull skin, Sobol suggests a cheek stain, such as Tarte Cheek Stain, to add a flush of color to the face.

Do damage control. “If you still spot some flakes, use a clean mascara wand to lightly pick them off the skin,” advises Sobol. “Then use a tiny dot of moisturizer on top of the problem area, pat it in with your finger, and leave it alone!”

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Diagnosing and Treating a Winter Rash

Cold weather can take a toll on your body. As temperatures drop, so does the moisture content in your skin. This can lead to a winter rash. A winter rash is an area of irritated skin. It’s most often caused by dry skin. Even if you have healthy skin the rest of the year, you may develop a winter rash during cold seasons. The condition is common and often recurs year after year. Most people who live in cold climates have experienced it at least once.

Without treatment and lifestyle changes, your rash may last throughout winter. Fortunately, there are ways to keep your skin healthy and moisturized year-round.

Symptoms of Winter Rashes

A winter rash may include any of the following symptoms:

  • redness
  • swelling
  • itching
  • flaking
  • sensitivity
  • bumps
  • blisters

The rash may impact a single area of your body, often your legs, arms, or hands. In other cases, it may be widespread on your body.

Risk Factors to Consider

Anyone can get a winter rash, but some people are more prone than others. You’re more likely to develop a winter rash if you have a history of:

  • eczema
  • rosacea
  • dermatitis
  • allergies
  • asthma
  • sensitive skin

Spending a lot of time outdoors may also raise your risk of developing a winter rash.

Possible Causes of a Winter Rash

Your skin’s outer layer contains natural oils and dead skin cells that hold water inside your skin. This helps keep your skin soft, moisturized, and smooth.

Bitter cold temperatures can affect the condition of your skin. Cold air, low humidity, and high winds outdoors strip your skin of much-needed moisture. Turning up the heat and taking hot showers indoors do the same. These harsh conditions cause your skin to lose its natural oils. This allows moisture to escape, leading to dry skin and potentially a winter rash.

Other possible causes of a winter rash include:

  • sensitivity to antibacterial soaps, deodorizing soaps, detergents, or other chemicals
  • skin conditions, such as psoriasis or eczema
  • a bacterial infection
  • a viral infection
  • a latex allergy
  • stress
  • fatigue

Sunburns can also lead to a winter rash. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can be potent, even in winter. In fact, according to The Skin Cancer Foundation, snow reflects up to 80 percent of UV light, which means can be hit by the same rays twice. UV rays are also more intense at higher altitudes. This is important to remember if you enjoy snowboarding, skiing, or other alpine sports.

Diagnosing a Winter Rash

Your doctor can often diagnose a winter rash during a physical exam. They’ll review your symptoms and medical history to help determine the cause of your rash and prescribe treatment.

If you haven’t changed your soap or exposed your skin to chemicals recently, chances are your rash is due to dry skin. If you’re moisturizing your skin regularly and limiting your exposure to extreme cold or hot temperatures, something else may be causing your rash. It’s possible you’re experiencing an allergic reaction to a personal care product or medication. You may also have an infection or skin condition, such as eczema, psoriasis, or dermatitis.

Treating a Winter Rash

Most treatments for a winter rash are inexpensive and don’t require a prescription. For example:

  • Moisturizers are often the first defense against a winter rash because they help lock moisture into your skin. Apply moisturizer several times a day, especially after bathing and hand washing.
  • Petroleum jelly also acts as a barrier to help seal moisture into your skin. If you don’t like the idea of using petroleum products, consider trying petroleum substitutes, such as Waxelene or Un-Petroleum, which also prevent moisture loss.
  • Natural oils, such as olive oil and coconut oil, may help soothe your irritated skin and replenish moisture. Apply to your skin as needed.
  • Vegetable shortening is another popular folk remedy for dry skin because its solid oil content helps restore moisture. Try slathering it on after bathing or before bed.
  • Bathing with milk may help soothe your itchy skin. Dip a clean washcloth into whole milk and dab it on the affected area of your body, or soak in a warm bath with milk added for about 10 minutes.
  • Oatmeal soap and baths may also help soothe your skin. Purchase soap made with oatmeal, or add finely ground oats to a warm bath, and soak in it for about 10 minutes.
  • Topical cortisone creams, which are available with or without a prescription, may help reduce your skin’s redness, itching, and inflammation. Follow the manufacturer’s directions or use as directed by your doctor.

Most winter rashes improve with lifestyle changes, home remedies, and over-the-counter (OTC) treatments. Others may persist or get worse. Scratching may cause your skin to crack and bleed. This gives bacteria the perfect opening and puts you at risk of infection.

Contact your doctor if you have a rash that isn’t responding to OTC treatments, is bleeding, or has severe symptoms.

How to Prevent a Winter Rash

The best way to prevent winter rash is to avoid cold climates and dry air entirely. Try these prevention tips if you don’t spend your winter in a warm climate:

  • Invest in a humidifier to add moisture to the air around you. Whole-house, single-room, and personal humidifiers are available. Find a great selection on Amazon.com.
  • Bathe less often, lather up at little as possible, and avoid hot water. Consider bathing every other day during the winter, when your body may not sweat as much or get as dirty.
  • Use natural, fragrance-free soaps made from glycerin, goat milk, shea butter, or olive oil.
  • Wear clothes made from breathable natural fibers, such as cotton and hemp, to help reduce skin irritation and overheating.
  • Protect your hands by wearing gloves every time you go outside in cold weather. You should also wear protective gloves when you wash dishes, immerse your hands in water for an extended period, or clean with chemical products.
  • Prevent winter sunburns by wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher when you spend time outdoors.

Limit the time you spend in front of fires, which decrease humidity and expose your skin to intense heat.

The Takeaway

Taking preventive steps and applying moisturizer at the first sign of dry skin, can help you reduce your risk of a winter rash.

Some winter rashes are just a nuisance. Other rashes are more serious and require medical treatment. Contact your doctor if your rash doesn’t improve despite home treatment or you have other concerns about your rash.

What Causes Chapped Lips and How to Treat Them


If the severe dryness and cracking doesn’t improve with self-care, you should see a dermatologist. Cheilitis is often to blame for severely chapped lips. This is a condition marked by cracked skin at the mouth corners and several cracks on your lips.

If you have this condition, your lips may:

  • be dark pink or red in color
  • have a lumpy texture
  • develop ulcers
  • have white plaques on the surface

Cheilitis is often attributed to infections and inflammatory diseases, such as Crohn’s disease. Dental trauma and excessive saliva production may also turn a regular case of chapped lips into cheilitis. Bacteria can enter through the cracks and cause infection. Adults and children who have orthodontic braces, wear dentures, or use pacifiers are all susceptible to developing cheilitis.

A dermatologist can determine whether your dry lips are simply chapped or if you have cheilitis.

Dehydration and malnutrition

Dry lips can also be caused by dehydration or malnutrition. Dehydration causes symptoms including:

  • lightheadedness
  • constipation
  • decreased urine production
  • dry mouth
  • headache

In severe cases, a person suffering from dehydration may experience low blood pressure, fever, rapid breathing, or a rapid heartbeat.

Malnutrition is characterized by many of the same symptoms as dehydration. Additional symptoms can include:

  • muscle weakness
  • decaying teeth
  • bloated stomach
  • bone fragility

Malnutrition can be caused by vitamin deficiencies, so those on limited diets (for example, vegetarians) need to make sure that they are getting enough of the vitamins they need.

People with alcohol addiction are also more susceptible to malnutrition due to vitamin deficiencies because excessive alcohol use can interfere with the body’s vitamin absorption. Older adults are also at higher risk for malnutrition because decreased appetite is common.

If you suspect you are dehydrated or malnourished, see your doctor right away.

Dry Lips | Causes + How to make them smooth again

April 26 2017

When our lips get dry, our first reaction is to moisten them with our saliva – frequently licking our lips due to general discomfort – which only leads to more dryness. Understanding the true cause of this dehydration is key to healing from the inside-out.

This time of year can be tricky when it comes to maintaining hydrated skin, especially smooth kissable lips. With cold dry winds in the winter, and a general lack of humidity in the air, our skin can get really dry, especially our lips! In the summer months, our lips can also suffer due to sun exposure. Believe it or not, lips can burn and blister, and need just as much protection as the rest of our skin.

However, it’s not always the weather that causes dry, dull lips. There could be a few different reasons and a different method for solving each. Hydration, low stomach acid, diet and internal imbalances can all lead to chapped lips.

Did you know that dry lips are commonly a sign of problems in the digestive tract? When you are dehydrated, your body pulls water from other parts of the body (like the intestines) to hydrate the cells. This can cause dryness in the colon leading to constipation, and dryness in the rest of the body – lips and skin!
Drinking water alone may not be enough to replenish and rehydrate your body. Try to add electrolytes to your water, especially when you have chapped lips. I like to add lemon juice with a pinch of sea salt when I’m at home. When I’m out and about, grabbing a coconut water is very hydrating because it contains natural amounts of sodium and potassium (what your cells needs to bring water into the body).

Another cause of dry lips is (believe it or not) from excessive saliva. This can happen when we have low grade heartburn from problems with stomach acid. There is a gate between the stomach and the esophagus which should always remain closed, except when eating. When our stomachs produce enough acid, this “gate” can close. Many people believe heartburn is from high stomach acid, but it is usually the exact opposite. Low stomach acid causes that “gate” to stay open, leading to heartburn after eating, and then excessive saliva at night while we sleep. This can give us dry and cracked lips in the morning.
One easy way to reduce heartburn and boost stomach acid is to practice mindfullness before having a meal. When we take a bit of time to think about our food, and smell it before we eat – our stomachs release acid and it primes us for optimal digestion. Another trick would be to consume something bitter 10 minutes before your meal – anything from lemon water in the morning, to apple cider vinegar at dinner time can really do the trick!

An additional way to look at dry lips is by understanding a little bit of Chinese Medicine. According to TCM theory, the health of our lips and mouth depend on the Chinese Spleen. Unlike our true spleen (which houses dead red blood cells), the TCM Spleen is responsible for the transformation of water and food into the qi and blood of the body. Dry and cracked lips is a sign that there are issues with fluid metabolism. Lips can also become pale when spleen qi is weak. The spleen can be affected when we have irregular eating patterns, and when we are stressed. High amounts of stress will attack our “Spleen Qi”, which can lead to bloating, fatigue, loose stools, and dry lips.
One way to improve this condition is to get weekly acupuncture treatments that can be focused on nourishing the spleen and qi through stimulation of points along the spleen meridian in the body. (getting acupuncture along the lower legs and abdomen).

Another thing you can do for your lips is to consume foods that nourish the TCM spleen – this means warm cooked foods, broths, stews, and warming spices like ginger and turmeric. Foods that can damage the TCM spleen are usually colder foods like raw salads, fruits, and especially dairy products (ice cream!!!). Once the weather warms up, these foods are easier for the body to tolerate, but should be avoided as much as possible during the colder months.

Lastly, an important aspect of keeping our skin and lips well hydrated is to consume high quality fats – especially fish oils and coconut oils – these oils help to moisturize the intestines, leading to a reduction in inflammation and boost in hydration from the mouth all the way out! Fish oil can be added to your diet in the form of a daily supplement, and you can also add coconut oil to your morning coffee!
For more information on this, you can book an appointment with the Naturopathic doctor and see which options would be right for you!

– Staz

Dr. Nastasia Irons, ND (aka. Staz) is our resident naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist. Visit her for holistic Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture by booking your appointment HERE

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Does this scenario sound familiar? You reach into your purse (or pocket) and realize you forgot the very product you never leave home without: your lip balm! How will you survive the day — or even the hour — without it?!

For those of us with dry lips, we’d love to not need our lip balm. But without it, we’re dealing with a case of cracked, dry, itching lips. Is there any solution?

Yes! There are easy solutions to dry lips — but they rely on figuring out the cause.

Two factors affect our lips — things outside our bodies and things inside our bodies. Here’s how our lips get so dry (and what we can do to fix it).

The External Causes of Dry Lips

Things that come from the outside affect our lips more than we realize. Cinnamon is one of the main culprits. A strong cinnamon gum can make a big difference in the dryness of your lips.

However, one of the most unsuspecting causes of dry lips is our toothpaste. Many options have a combination of really strong flavors, teeth whiteners, and fresh breath ingredients. Have you ever tried one and thought, “Wow! This is strong. My mouth feels like it’s on fire!”

That’s not a good thing for your lips. See, when we brush our teeth or chew gum, the residue from the cinnamon, mint, or spices spreads to our lips — which are more sensitive than the lining of our mouths.

Even using the same brand of toothpaste consistently isn’t a safe bet. Sometimes a company will change their ingredients slightly, and you’ll end up with a tube that’s a little stronger than what you’re used to.

My recommendation is to use a bland toothpaste. Go for the bottom-shelf, cheap stuff. I like plain Crest. Even the toothpaste for sensitive teeth can have strong flavors. The best way to avoid the drying effect of toothpaste is to stay with the basic kind. It’s not the most exciting option, but it works great and won’t dry out your lips.

Is Toothpaste Really Causing Your Dry Lips?

So, how do you know if your toothpaste is causing the problem? Your lips might feel chapped, irritated, cracked, or especially sticky after you brush your teeth. Sometimes your lips are just uncomfortable after your daily brushings.

Some patients, particularly African-Americans, experience hyper-pigmentation when their lips turn lighter or darker in reaction to the product. These pigmentary changes come from sensitivity to the product.

Toothpaste isn’t always the culprit, but it’s the product we use multiple times a day that often makes the biggest impact.

However, if you notice these changes after chewing gum or using lozenges, that’s another potential source of the problem. For people who regularly chew gums, use lozenges, or eat hot peppers, pay attention to your lips afterward. That’s a likely reason for your dry lips.

You may also feel a change in your lips when you take certain medications. Oral antibiotics like Isotretinoin will quickly zap your lips of any moisture.

And as the weather changes to a cold and drier season, expect to see a change in your skin moisture levels too. Once the temperature drops, you’ll need to up your moisturizers.

Internal Causes of Dry Lips

Dry lips causes aren’t limited to the external factors. One of our instinctual habits can make it significantly worse — lip licking. Some people (particularly kids) lick their lips and don’t even realize they’re doing it. It doesn’t seem like a big deal until it causes skin irritation.

Why? The enzymes in our mouths help us digest food and break down proteins — but they’ll do the same to our skin. The more we lick those enzymes onto our lips, the more the skin on our lips breaks down.

Do You Have Chronic Dry Lips?

If you’ve been dealing with dry lips for a long time, that doesn’t mean you have a more serious problem. It just means you haven’t found what’s causing it yet. There is a cure for your dry lips.

Dry lips won’t cause any serious damage, but they will be uncomfortable. Lips can crack, bleed, or peel, which feels awful and looks terrible.

How to Get Rid of Dry Lips

If you’re wondering how to fix your dry lips, take a look at the causes. Ask yourself these questions to see if you can figure out the source of the problem:

  • What kind of toothpaste do I use?
  • Do I regularly chew gum?
  • Do I use lozenges?
  • Am I on a medication with a dry-skin side effect?
  • Am I licking my lips without realizing it?
  • Did the weather just change?

Then make some changes. If you’re not sure where to start, switch your toothpaste. It’s the #1 cause of lip dryness — and we don’t even think about it.

Is Lip Balm Bad for My Lips?

Finally, dry lips or not, some of us can’t live without our lip balm. Lip balm isn’t bad, but do you feel addicted? You shouldn’t.

If you’re a lip balm lover, take a look at your habits. Your lips are likely irritated from something like brushing your teeth. Now you feel like you can’t leave home without your lip stuff.

For severe cases, the best lip balm for dry lips is Dr. Dan’s Cortibalm. It’s a great over-the-counter option with hydrocortisone to quickly heal your lips.

Dry lips aren’t a condition you have to live with. There are solutions. If you’ve tried to find the cause and make some changes, but your condition doesn’t seem to improve, your dermatologist can help. They’ll be able to help you find the reason for your dryness and the solution that will get your lips back to new, healthy, and normal.

Dr. R. Todd Plott is a board-certified dermatologist in Coppell, Keller, and Saginaw, TX. His specialization and professional interests include treating patients suffering with acne, identifying and solving complex skin conditions such as psoriasis, rosacea, atopic dermatitis, and identifying and treating all types of skin cancers. In his spare time, Dr. Plott enjoys cycling, traveling with his wife, and spending time with his children and new grandson.

Learn more about Dr. Plott.

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