Help! I Have Dry, Itchy Skin

Alexandra Perron

Here’s how to deal with dry, itchy skin come winter.

The sudden drop in temperature impacts more than just your wardrobe. The cold, wind, and low humidity all cause the moisture in our skin to evaporate more quickly, leading to dry, itchy skin — and no one wants that. To help you winterize your skin care routine and avoid dryness, we asked Dr. Sejal K. Shah of Smarter Skin Dermatology in New York City to share her tips and favorite products.

Pay attention to ingredients
Shah says it’s important to switch up your products as the seasons change. Swap your lightweight summer moisturizer for something thicker and formulated with ingredients that will lock in moisture and repair your skin. She suggests looking for products that contain ceramides (natural lipids that are present in the surface of the skin) to help build your skin’s barrier. “You also want to look for humectants like glycerin and hyaluronic acid, which help to hold moisture,” says Shah. “If your skin is itchy, look for soothing ingredients like oatmeal and chamomile.”

If you’re a fan of moisturizing with oil, make sure you do your research — Shah points out that not all oils are equally hydrating. “Some oils can actually be drying because they have astringent properties, like tea tree oil,” she says, highlighting coconut, argan, and olive oil as effective moisturizers. “You can use food grade oils, but you want them to be cold-pressed and organic,” she says. Bottom line: You don’t need to hibernate this winter; you just need a good moisturizer.

Apply moisturizer to damp skin
One of the best ways to lock in moisture is to apply your moisturizer to damp skin. Shah recommends taking a lukewarm shower (bad news: those extra hot showers can dry skin out even more) and pat drying your skin so it’s not completely dry before applying a thick moisturizer. “Moisturizers work best on damp skin,” says Shah. “Apply when it’s still a little wet to help seal in some of the extra moisture.” In-shower moisturizers work with wet skin in a similar way, but you should still add an extra layer of moisturizer post-shower to really keep skin hydrated. Shah recommends Aveeno Baby Daily Moisturizer Lotion ($5), La Roche Posay Toleriane Daily Soothing Moisturizer ($29), and Avene XeraCalm A.D Lipid-Replenishing Cream ($32).

Exfoliating is OK — to a point
“Don’t be afraid to exfoliate, just don’t go overboard,” says Shah. Gentle exfoliation is necessary to remove dead skin cells and will also help for your moisturizer to seep in better. Stick to your regular exfoliation schedule, over exfoliating will only dry your skin out more.


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