In the eleven years I’ve been appearing on Citytv’s Cityline program, the most common skincare question I get is about how to solve dry skin. Winter is particularly harsh as humidity levels drop, frigid winds blast skin and temperatures drop. I’ve interviewed dozens of dermatologists and skincare experts on the best strategies to combat this skin concern.
What is dry skin? Dry skin is a skin type, caused by a lack of oils in the skin, which actually serve to protect the skin. Characterized by low oil production, dry skin generally looks parched, rough and flaky. It can feel tight and uncomfortable. Dry skin is much more susceptible to cracking and is more easily irritated, which can lead to fine lines and wrinkles. It is also a prime cause of sensitive skin. Two areas of the face that are generally drier are eyes and lips. The skin around the eye area actually has fewer oil glands and the lips have no oil glands at all. For this reason, you have to pay extra attention to them.
What is dehydrated skin? Dehydrated skin is a skin condition, caused from a lack of water in the skin. Generally, if the skin is lacking oil, it’s lacking water as well, since the skin’s moisture barrier, which locks water in, is weakened when it’s dry. Characterized by lack of moisture, dehydrated skin looks dull, lackluster and generally has an uneven texture with fine lines. In other words, it ages more quickly.
The Causes: Dry skin is most commonly caused by environmental factors such as low humidity levels, cold temperatures and frigid winds. Aging also plays a factor in dry skin. As we age, our cell turnover slows down and our skin can become drier.
Dehydrated skin can be caused by the use of harsh cleansers that strip the skin, temperature (extreme hot or cold), poor diet and environmental exposure. You can have dry skin, dehydrated skin or a combination of both.
The best Winter-Dry Skin solutions:
- Adjust your skincare products
Switch out your gel cleansers and put away your toners. It’s time to sideline any product that will strip any of the natural oils on your face. These are good to have in the height of summer when your body producers excess oil. But in colder months, you need to preserve every drop of oil. Add a creamy facial cleanser and add a hydrating mask once a week. Change the texture of your moisturizer too. You want a thicker, more moisturizing formula to battle the elements.
- Apply your moisturizer on damp skin
“The key is to apply moisturizer while the skin is still damp from cleansing. This way, the moisturizer traps some of the moisture still on your skin,” says Clarins’ Caroline Debbasch. “This will make your products work more effectively. It does make a big difference.”
- Invest in a humidifier
“One of the big misconceptions about dry skin is drinking extra water,” says Dr. Lisa Kellett. “Our skin gets the majority of its moisture from the environment. That’s why in humid weather in summer our skin glows. It draws in moisture from the air. So I advise my clients to use a humidifier in their bedrooms to raise the humidity levels.” Skin requires at least 30% humidity to stay properly moisturized.
- Look for these ingredients
There are a handful of ingredients that have stood the test of time. They really do help protect and moisturize skin. These are very good ingredients to have in your moisturizer.
Almond oil – Rich in Vitamin E, this essential oil is highly moisturizing.
Shea butter – Not only does this soften skin, but it helps create a water-tight barrier on the skin.
Hyaluronic Acid – A humectant that that holds water in the skin and boosts collagen production.
- Add a facial oil
This was a eureka moment for me last year when I discovered this dry skin solution. A Cityline viewer in Edmonton had been battling dry skin for years and nothing had worked. I received a philosophy press kit with a facial oil and a moisturizer for dry skin. I asked her to apply the oil, let it absorb, then apply the moisturizer on top. Success! For the first time in years, her skin was soft and more importantly comfortable. I love philosophy and Clarins’ facial oils.
- Keep baths and showers lukewarm
Hot, steamy showers feel so good in the heart of winter, but they can strip the skin of oils and moisture. Best to keep the showers shorter and a little cooler.
The Myth: Why drinking extra water won’t help dry skin:
One of the biggest misconceptions about dry skin is drinking more water. Don’t get me wrong: drinking enough water is essential to overall health. But it won’t make your skin hydrated. Here’s why: water doesn’t go straight to the skin. It goes through the intestines, gets absorbed into blood stream and is filtered by kidneys. Ultimately it hydrates cells. A small amount will make it to the skin. But the majority of the skin’s moisture comes from the environment. The skin draws it in from air. That’s why humidity levels are so important for solving dry skin.
Dave’s hydrating picks:
Clinique Moisture Surge Intense Skin Fortifying Hydrator for Very Dry Skin
This lightweight yet very hydrating formula was developed for the president of Clinique. Her frequent flying caused her skin to become very dry and sensitive. She called the Head of Research and Development and asked him to create a moisturizer for her.
Philosophy when hope is not enough omega 3 6 9 replenishing oil
This works wonders on dry skin when applied under a moisturizer. Essential fatty acids nourish and help maintain skin’s suppleness.
Philosophy renewed hope in a jar for very dry skin
This Oprah favourite has been reformulated for added hydration benefit. Three forms of hyaluronate lock in moisture all day. Blue algave extract helps stimulate the skin’s natural production of hyaluronic acid.
Clarins Blue Orchid Face Treatment Oil
This formula contains 100% plant extracts including rosewood & patchouli oils and hazelnut oil to help prevent moisture loss. It’s specifically for dehydrated skin.
Clarins Hyrdra Quench Rich Cream Dry Skin
This moisturizer creates a protective “micro-environment” that insulates against biting cold, pollution and blistering winds. A very good rich moisturizer for winter.
Skin immunity levels drop significantly when skin gets too dry. Adding Ultimune to your daily regime will help fortify skin from within. Over time, skin will be more resistant to dehydration.
Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream Intense Hydration
Ultra Facial Cream promises 24 hours of hydration in a light-textured cream. It’s a good daily moisturizer under makeup.
Guerlain Orchidee Imperiale The Rich Cream
This is my favourite luxury anti-aging cream. Not only does it fortify fine, dry or weakened skin, it offers a multitude of anti-aging benefits. But the key is the texture. This product melts into skin making it soft and supple to the touch.
Origins Drink Up 10 Minute Mask to Quench Skin’s Thirst
American skincare brand Origins offers some of the best facial masks on the market. When skin feels particularly dry, apply this thirst-quenching formula containing algae extracts and emollient-rich apricot kernel oil.
Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream Nourishing Lip Balm SPF 20
Not only does this balm offer eight essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients, it provides UVA and UVB protection.