In my ten years as a beauty editor, the biggest skincare myth I’ve encountered is about dry skin. I can’t count the number of times I’ve flipped open a fashion magazine to see a headline that states “Drink 12 glasses of water a day and enjoy glowing, hydrated skin”? I’ve heard it repeated again and again in numerous skincare presentations and it is completely false. Don’t get me wrong: drinking water is great for your overall health. But skin doesn’t get its moisture from your blood cells.
“Your skin draws in moisture from the air,” explains Dr. Lisa Kellett, one of Canada’s top dermatologists. “Drinking water is called intervascular hydration and that hydrates your internal organs and blood. But when you are faced with dry skin, you need to address the issue topically.” She says the wisest investment you can make is to purchase a humidifier for your bedroom and office. “You want to bring the humidity levels up so that the skin can draw the moisture in. During the winter in particular, humidity levels drop so much that wind and cold the moisture away from your skin. You want to lock in the moisture.”
Years ago, beauty experts would extoll the virtues of steam baths to revive dry skin and there is something to it. My grandmother would pour boiling water into a bowl, lean over the steaming water, and then place a towel over her head. She says steam would soothe her very dry skin. She’d then apply Elizabeth Arden’s 8 Hour Cream on her face to seal in the moisture.
Thankfully, we have a new generation of moisturizers that are incredibly hydrating. And there is a specifc product that can help soothe the tightest skin: facial oil. Naturopaths and green beauty experts have used facial oils for years to treat overly dry skin and they are onto something. Applying a drop of facial oil under your moisturizer can often solve dry skin conditions. philosophy’s Omega 3-6-9 Replenishing Oil and Clarins Blue Orchid Facial Oil are particularly good formulas. Apply after cleansing, wait a couple minutes for the oil to absorb into the skin, then apply a moisturizer for dry skin over top.
Lynne Greene, president of Clinique, tackled her dry skin a couple years ago in a unique way. When she started traveling regularly to Asia on business, she discovered that her skin started reacting to every product she applied. So she turned to her Research & Development team and asked them to develop a hydrating moisturizer specifically for very sensitive skin. The result was Moisture Surge Intense for Very Dry Skin, a lightweight gel-cream formula that is truly remarkable. It brings the skin’s moisture barrier back into balance and keeps it protected throughout the day.
Clarins’ Caroline Debbasch adds that applying your moisturizer over damp skin improves the efficacy of any product. “We’ve done clinical tests that prove moisturizers work better when you use them on slightly wet skin. If you do just this one step, you’ll notice that your skin will stay better moisturized.” She says the same goes when using body lotion after a bath. Just gently pat dry then rub on your creams or lotions.
Bruce Greyson, a Hollywood makeup artist, says that his celebrity clients need to have very hydrated skin when walking the red carpet. “I will apply a moisturizer, then wait four or five minutes for it to absorb into the skin. If the skin is still feeling a bit tight, I’ll reapply. I’ve even done this three times before using any makeup.” This is because makeup looks best when it sits on hydrated skin. It will last much longer and the colour will stay true.
In the end, the best advice for treating dry skin is to use a humidifier, switch to luke warm baths with a drop of baby oil, and use a facial oil under your moisturizer. Those simple steps should help soothe skin even in minus 40 degree weather.