Jill Levy has been with the Dr. Axe and Ancient Nutrition team for five years. She completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Fairfield University, followed by a certification as a Holistic Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Jill takes a “non-diet” approach to health and really enjoys teaching others about mindful eating, intuitive eating and the benefits of eating real foods.
Most people experience some level of dry skin in the winter, even those who may be prone to oiliness during the warmer months of the year.
What causes “winter skin”? Dry skin in the winter is often due to low humidity levels in the air, both indoors and outdoors, which causes skin to lose moisture. When it’s cold outside, the combination of low humidity, wind and cold temps zaps water from your skin; when you’re inside, artificial heating creates an equally dry environment.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to help sensitive winter and dry skin from becoming too severe, with help from things like moisturizers, humidifiers and even a healthy diet.
Why Is Winter Dry Skin A Problem?
The level of moisture in your skin’s epidermis, which is the outermost layer of your skin, reflects the level of humidity in your environment.
Normally, a healthy epidermis serves as a shield, keeping unwanted things from getting into your pores and body. It’s made up of skin cells that create a flat, smooth service when moisture is in balance; however, when dryness occurs, the epidermis can become negatively impacted.
What happens to skin in winter? When your skin barrier lacks moisture, especially during the winter months, this can lead to overly dry winter skin. You want to avoid that, and look more towards the picture of skin health.
10 Winter Skin Care Tips
How do you nourish winter skin? Here are tips for combatting dry skin in the winter:
1. Wear a Quality Moisturizer Every Day
No winter skin care routine is complete without a good moisturizer. Skin moisturizers work by rehydrating the epidermis and sealing in moisture to keep the skin healthy.
Applying moisturizer to your skin regularly also signals to your skin how much oil it should be producing, which can keep skin happy and healthy.
After washing your face with a gentle cleanser twice daily, apply moisturizer, as well as a serum first if you’d like.
Opt for heavier creams over thinner lotions during the winter. The best choices for those with dry or sensitive skin include products made with:
- Hyaluronic acid
- Mineral oil
- Coconut oil
- Shea butter
- And soothing ingredients like chamomile and oatmeal
Many dermatologists recommend thicker ointments for especially dry skin. The product is great when applied over other creams to help nourish your skin.
2. Add More Healthy and Performance Fats to Your Diet
Your body is better able to produce lipids (natural oils) that hydrate your skin from the inside-out when you include plenty of healthy fats in your diet.
Add nourishing sources of fat to your meals each day such as: flax seeds or flaxseed oil, fish such as salmon and sardines (which are rich in omega-3 fats), nuts like almonds and walnuts, olive oil, coconut oil and avocados.
3. Use a Collagen Supplement
Collagen is a structural protein that your body produces to help form and promote your skin health, giving it elasticity and strength. You can also acquire collagen from supplements, such as Ancient Nutrition’s Multi Collagen Protein or Collagen Peptides, which features hydrolyzed collagen peptides, making it easy for the body to use and absorb.
When you add more collagen to your diet, the amino acids it contains go to work on your skin, contributing to overall improved skin tone and elasticity. Multi Collagen Protein also comes in superfood beauty formulas designed for specific interests such as skin support, thanks to added ingredients like vitamin C (an antioxidant that generally helps support the body against free radical damage).
4. Get a Humidifier
Indoors, dry heat can really lead to tight, dry skin. A simple way to add more moisture to the air inside is to use a humidifier (or two). Place one in the rooms where you spend the most time, such as your bedroom overnight.
A “cool air humidifier” is one of the top recommended types for dry winter skin. Another recommendation is to keep the temperature setting in your home on low if possible, rather than making it overly warm.
5. Don’t Over-Wash Your Skin
Every time you wash your skin, including in the shower, you remove some of your skin’s natural oils that help to keep the epidermis in balance. Avoid washing your face more than 1–2 times per day, and skip any cleansers that contain irritating ingredients, dyes or fragrances.
When showering, keep the temperature from becoming very hot, even though this is tempting when it’s cold outside. Stick to shorter showers and try washing your hair only several times per week at most to avoid a dry scalp. Right after showering, use body lotions containing ingredients like mineral oil, lanolin or ceramides.
And if you’re someone who enjoys swimming indoors in the winter, try not to spend too much time in chlorinated pools, since this is another way that skin loses hydration.
6. Gently Exfoliate
Using a mild scrub or exfoliant two to three times per week, such as one with glycolic or lactic acid, can help to remove dead, dry skin that blocks moisturizers from doing their job properly.
However, it’s best to avoid scrubbing too aggressively or exfoliating too often, which will irritate skin. If you have severely dry winter skin, skip the exfoliators and try gently brushing your skin with a harm washcloth instead to gently buff the surface of your skin.
7. Go Easy On Drying Products (Like Clay Masks, Toners & Other Treatments)
You may experience great results during the warmer months of the year when you use things like charcoal or clay masks, spot treatments (such as those with salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide) or Retin-A serums. However, using these too often in the winter can backfire, leading to increased redness and irritation.
Try opting for gentler ingredients instead when your skin is already sensitive. If using retinol products, lower your usage to every other day.
All year round, consider applying an antioxidant serum, such as one with vitamin C, first thing in the morning after washing your face. Make sure it’s alcohol-free and not one that is perfumed or irritating. This approach can help keep your skin in tip-top shape.
8. Try a Steam Room
Steam rooms, which contain tons of humidity in the air, work almost like giant humidifiers. They can help to add moisture back to your skin, and they are much better options than dry saunas which can do the opposite.
9. Drink More Water, And Not Too Much Alcohol
Your body needs to be hydrated internally in order to keep your skin smooth and healthy, which means you need to drink plenty of water. This is especially important if you’re losing fluids due to things like exercising, drinking alcohol or other reasons.
Try sipping on hydrating beverages throughout the day, such as water, herbal tea, fresh pressed juice or bone broth. And go easy on alcohol and coffee, which are diuretics that can increase urination and water loss.
10. Speak to Your Doctor
As always, before beginning any new dietary or lifestyle regimen, you should consult your healthcare professional. In some cases, certain medications or underlying health conditions may be contributing to your dry skin in the winter. Allergies are another possible culprit to discuss with your doctor.