Dry Skin Tips and Tricks - How to Soothe Dry Skin Naturally, Safely, and Effectively
Posted on 28 November 2017 by Maryanne Johnson
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Dry skin not only looks parched, it can also make fine lines and wrinkles appear more noticeable - and make skin more vulnerable to fresh lines and wrinkles.
In the chill of winter, nothing can seem more comforting than a steaming hot shower or bath. If you have dry skin, however, that soothing water can exacerbate the condition by stripping away the barrier layer, which helps trap moisture in, keeping skin hydrated.
Even worse, however, is that skin is more likely to experience dryness as we age, so just about the time we would see our first wrinkles, dry skin acts like a magnifying glass of sorts, making them more visible than ever.
If you have dry skin, there are plenty of things you can do to fight back.
The Causes of Dry Skin
For some people, dry skin occurs when the humidity of summer departs for the season, taking with it all of the moisture in the air.
Suddenly, outdoor air is icy, indoor air is hot and dry, and both can quickly suck the moisture out of your skin, leaving it feeling painfully tight, flaky or itchy.
While winter weather plays a big role in dry skin – central heating, wood stoves, space heaters and fireplaces leach all of the moisture out of the air, which has a big impact on skin – desert heat can also leave skin feeling parched.
The wrong cleansers can also contribute to dry skin. Choosing harsh products that strip skin of its natural oils can exacerbate the condition, making skin look and feel worse than ever.
How to Heal Dry Skin
If your skin is dry, it’s important to treat it gently.
- Use warm, not hot, water when you bathe, shower or cleanse your skin, and keep showers to a minimum. If you can’t resist a long bath now and then, add oil to the water – jojoba or almond oils are both nutrient-dense choices - to protect your skin.
- You may not want to use the same cleansers as the seasons change. During harsh winter months, use gentle cleansers that moisturize while they cleanse to prevent dryness. Avoid soap, which can also dry skin.
- Skip toners and astringents. Alcohol-based toners will lift away moisture, leaving skin tight and dehydrated.
- Moisturize well, especially at night. A rich moisturizer will allow your skin to take advantage of the healing that happens while we rest, a time when skin cells rejuvenate at a faster rate and skin is more receptive to active ingredients (there is no competition from cosmetics or sunscreens), especially hydration, since more water evaporates from the skin during nighttime hours. Apply moisturizers immediately after you shower or cleanse your skin in order to help seal in moisture.
- Use the right moisturizer. An oil-based cream will be more effective than a water-based lotion, because oil creates a natural barrier on the skin’s surface.
- Look for the right ingredients. Olive oil, jojoba oil, shea butter, lactic acid, hyaluronic acid and dimethicone (a type of silicone that creates a seal on the skin’s surface, locking in essential moisture) all bring welcome hydration. Skip alcohol, fragrances, retinoids, alpha-hydroxy acid or benzoyl peroxide, all of which can be seriously drying.
- Replace lost moisture in the air. A humidifier can help prevent the dryness associated with winter heating, keeping skin moist and hydrated.
Best Foods to Soothe Dry Skin
While the jury is still out on whether or not drinking eight glasses of water a day will help ease dry skin – water flushes out toxins, but does not necessarily relieve dryness – the right foods can definitely have an impact on skin health, and the right items can help effectively moisturize your skin from the inside out.
“You are what you eat,” says Dr. Arleen Lamba, a dermatologist from Bethesda, Maryland. “If you eat foods high in salt content or preservatives, you will notice not only that your skin is puffy, but that it also is dry. Some good ingredients to look for are omega-3 fatty acids, silica rich foods, and of course, foods that are antioxidant rich.”
Some of the best foods to relieve parched skin include:
- Fatty fish. Fish with omega-3 fatty acids help strengthen skin’s barrier layer, locking in moisture. Salmon, tuna, herring and trout are all good sources of omega-3s.
- Nuts and seeds. Nuts like walnuts and pecans also have beneficial omega-3s, but they also have vitamin E, a skin-friendly antioxidant that protects skin from damage caused by oxidative stress. Vitamin E also encourages skin to retain essential moisture.
- Avocado. The good fat in avocado benefits skin in myriad ways. Not only does it help keep skin cells plump, it also reduces inflammation and protects skin from signs of aging.
- Sweet Potato. Sweet potato is an excellent source of beta carotene, which is full of vitamin A that can help prevent dry skin and ensure a more dewy, youthful complexion. Other orange veggies, including orange bell peppers and carrots, are also good sources of vitamin A, as are fruits including papaya, mango and cantaloupe.
- Oysters. Oysters are high in zinc, which helps encourage the production of collagen, one of the main proteins that makes up skin. Beef is also a good source of zinc.
- Olive Oil. Drizzle this on salads, use it as your cooking oil and top pasta with an extra swirl. Olive oil has monounsaturated fats, vitamin E and omega-3s, putting it at the top of the list when it comes to healing dry skin from within. It can also make skin less vulnerable to UV rays.
- Cucumbers. Cucumbers contain silica, which can boost skin’s elasticity by increasing moisture levels.
- Fruit. Not only do fruits have antioxidants that protect skin from cellular damage, they are also mostly water, so they hydrate even as they infuse your skin with oh-so-good-for-you nutrients.