How to battle dry skin from coast to coast

What you eat and how you take care of yourself (getting enough sleep, consistently removing your makeup before bed) has a lot to do with how your skin looks and feels. But weather is also a major player. Cool, dry air, which is what many of us are experiencing right about now, accelerates moisture loss and leads to itchy, flaky skin. But what if you live in the rainy Pacific Northwest or have a sun-soaked, less humid California address? We invited New York-based dermatologist Dr. Lisa Airan to our studio to talk us through a battle plan for each area of the country.


No matter where you live, Dr. Airan’s most important tip for battling dry skin is this: Take short luke-warm showers. The get-in-and-get-out approach will keep your skin from losing hydration. And here are her more specific tips according to which region of the country you’re in:


Winter means a drop in humidity and, for many, lots of time spent indoors in dry heat. A humidifier can do wonders to rehydrate skin and mucous membranes in the nose and mouth. Dr. Airan also recommends some moisture multi-tasking. While you’re in the shower, use a moisturizing body wash to lock moisture into your skin the way a cream rinse locks moisture into your hair. 


Residents here experience extreme daily temperature variation. Dr. Airan recommends wearing moisture-packed sunblock even in winter to battle uneven pigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles.

Deep South

This region's states have the gentlest climate, skin-wise, because the air is not as dry. Because of the consistent humidity, though, Dr. Airan suggests moisturizers with a quick dry-down time so your skin won't feel greasy.


When you experience intensely cold winters, as Dr. Airan notes, you can’t moisturize enough. Go with the heaviest cream you can to replenish all the water your skin will be losing.


The temperatures may be on the warm side, but the air here is extremely dry. In addition to slathering on the cream post-shower, Dr. Airan suggests a moisturizing body wash to double up on the hydration.


Year-round sunblock is a must. A humidifier is a great idea to add some moisture to the (mostly) dry air. Dr. Airan recommends changing the weight or your moisturizer— from light to heavy— during winter season.

Pacific Northwest

Because the area gets a lot of rain, and therefore a lot of humid air, a heavy moisturizer may never dry on your skin. Dr. Airan suggests a lightweight formulation even if it means re-applying several times a day.

Do you have any dry skin remedies to share? Lest you think you're alone in your dry-skin predicaments, read on. Some Thread-ers from across the country shared their winter- skin woes and smart remedies with us on Facebook.

Felicia, Florida

It only gets down to 40 degrees at the most, 70 at the least in winter time. The air is slightly drier, which dries out the sensitive patches of skin on my face. The corners of my mouth, my chin, and under my nose all get flaky if I don't put a thin layer of Vaseline on them. To keep my face hydrated—I do this all year around— I use a homemade green tea, egg, and grainy honey mask to exfoliate and make my skin softer.

Maryann, New York

My hands get very dry and chapped and sometimes crack on the fingertips, which can be painful especially when I need to cook and clean and have my hands constantly in water. So every night before bed, I use [a moisturizer] and wrap my hands with plastic bags. During the day I am constantly moisturizing my hands and fingertips. Make sure you wear gloves for washing dishes.

Leighleigh, Kentucky

Snow and ice and the cold, cold wind chaps my skin and frizzes my straight hair! Weird, right? I use Vaseline at night in winter and moisturizer during the day.  For my hair I spray it with leave-in conditioner and blow-dry it or air-dry it in time to leave the house. Oh, and plenty of Chapstick. [I keep a] tube at home, in my pocket, in my desk at work, and in the car console.

Nyt, Texas

It gets down to the 30s and below in the extreme winter conditions and can be very dry. Remedy for skin: moisturizer! My skin is usually pretty soft and moist so I don't use moisturizer often, just when it's dry and flaking. If my skin is dry, I use lotion or moisturizing body wash.

Alice, Virginia

The weather here is so unpredictable. Wind-burn makes your skin very dry. Then it will get warm which brings humid rain. This is when you get acne on top of the dry skin. It makes you crazy trying to keep up with proper maintenance. I use a very light moisturizer. For some reason this works. I get compliments on my skin all the time. I am 41 and I had a lot of adult acne.

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