Photo: Raymond Meier/Trunk Archive
Sometimes no matter how much hand or body lotion you apply they’re no match for dry skin and rough winter weather. Clearly not all products are created equal, and certain ingredients can actually make your skin worse. Stumped on when to use a lotion, a cream, or an oil? Dr. Ava Shamban, a Beverly Hills dermatologist and author of Heal Your Skin, helps her clients keep chapped, dry, and flakey skin at bay, and says it’s all about choosing the right products for your skin type and applying moisturizer to damp skin. (You can also exfoliate with a washcloth or gentle scrub to help creams and oils can really soak in.) Here are some strategic ingredients and formulations to look for—and the ones to avoid.
First things first, Shamban says you should make sure your dry skin isn’t the result of an underlying issue. “Hand eczema is fairly common, and the underlying condition can be exacerbated if your hands are continually wet—like if you’re a hairdresser or frequently changing diapers,” says Shamban. “You can also get contact dermatitis if you’re wearing new gloves or something you’re allergic to. When you’re skin cracks the barrier is not working and bacteria and fungus picked up from shopping carts or hand rails can get in.” If you think you may have either of these issues, see a doctor. And to prevent them, follow these tips to keep your hands hydrated and protected.
For oily skin
“The big definer here is acne,” says Shamban. “If you have it you need to use a lightweight non-comedigenic. Apply your acne medicine first and use moisturizer with salicylic acid to treat and prevent future breakouts.” Try a lightweight product like Skinceuticals Daily Moisture ($60) or Neostrata Bio-Hydrating Cream ($49) for your face, and Eminence Eminence Naseberry Body Lotion, ($32) Shamban’s favorite for body.
For dry skin
Ready for the revelation of a lifetime? “Don’t put soap on your body,” says Shamban. “Your skin is working hard to keep you moisturized—you don’t want to strip that away. If you’re indoors all the time and your skin is dry, only wash strategically like your hands, feet, underarms, and groin area.” Dove Sensitive Skin Body Wash ($9) is highly recommended for dry or temperamental skin. She suggests using body lotion with squaline and ceramides like Cerave ($10), or oils which will penetrate dry skin better. Her picks are Skinmedica Dermal Repair ($118) for face and Vanicream ($5) or Aveeno Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream ($12) for body.
For sensitive skin
“For reactionary skin look for anything that says it’s an anti-irritant or anti-inflammatory,” says Shamban. Lactic acid is a great ingredient to look for if you don’t mind the stickiness. Her go-to face calming solution is Avene Skin Recovery Cream ($32), and Lubriderm Daily Moisture Moisturizing Lotion ($9) for body.
For mature skin
Shamban says skin with a few more wrinkles should seek out a humectant, which exfoliates, binds water, and makes skin plumper. Shamban’s own Ava MD Bio Restorative Night Cream is chock full of antioxidants, peptides, and ceramides. For your body, try Olay Total Effects 7-in-One Advanced Anti-Aging Body Lotion ($8).
For normal skin
If you typically have no issues, but are seeking hydration in the colder months, try a cream rich in antioxidants and with an SPF. Try Neotrogena Oil-Free Moisture with sunscreen SPF 15 ($10) for face or Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion ($7) for body.
Shamban says all hands get dry in the winter regardless of skin type, and should be treated equally. “The skin on your palms is designed to be extra thick and impenetrable,” she says. “In order to get into it, you need to use something that’s more oil based and people often don’t to use anything greasy, so try applying those at night.” Her favorites are Eucerin Intensive Repair Extra-Enriched Hand Crème ($5), L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream ($12) and good old coconut oil.