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How to keep skin hydrated in the winter

The incoming winter months mean cold, dry weather. As the humidity drops, there is less moisture in the air, meaning less moisture for your skin. Without proper skin care, the winter months can be unforgiving and lead to dry skin.

Dry skin may feel cracked, peeled, or itchy. In severe cases, it may even bleed or lead to eczema. But there are easy ways to keep your skin glowing and hydrated in the winter.

1. Take short, warm showers and moisturize your skin right after.

Hot water and longer showers strip away your skin’s natural oils. Instead, take 5 to 10-minute showers in warm water. Your skin — and your water bill — will thank you.

After showering — or washing your hands — pat your skin dry gently and apply moisturizer within a couple minutes. Creams and lotions help seal moisture, so you’ll want to apply them when your skin is still damp and there’s still moisture left to seal.

Don’t forget lip balm to avoid chapped, cracked lips.

2. Use gentle cleansers, soaps, and detergents.

Highly scented soaps and detergents can be harsh on sensitive or dry skin.

Soaps may smell good but the fragrances and chemicals are meant to strip away your skin’s natural oils. Try using fragrance-free soaps and avoid products with alcohol — such as alcohol-based toners — which can dry out your skin.

Be sure to cleanse gently, too. Use scrub brushes and wash clothes lightly, or avoid them altogether. If you’re shaving, don’t skip the shaving gel or cream. In fact, leave it on for a few minutes before shaving so your skin stays moisturized during and after the shave.

3. Find skincare products with moisturizing oils and ingredients.

Here are some moisturizing ingredients you can look for in skincare products:

  • Glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and sorbitol — these are all humectants which attract moisture
  • Mineral oil, petrolatum (petroleum jelly), and lanolin help seal moisture

When you’re using face masks, choose hydrating ones over clay-based masks, which can dry out the skin.

4. Add moisture to the air with a humidifier.

Central heating, fireplaces, and space heaters may make your home feel cozier, but they also remove moisture from the air — and from your skin. To combat this, try using a humidifier, which adds moisture to the air.

Ideal indoor relative humidity is around 30 to 50 percent. Higher humidity levels can invite mold and mildew.

5. Protect your skin with gloves, SPF, and more.

Go for cotton winter wear because materials like wool may be scratchy and irritating. If you do wear wool clothing, wear something cotton or silky underneath to minimize direct contact with your skin.

It’s especially important to protect your hands and feet, which are more susceptible to dryness. Wear gloves outside during the winter or while doing tasks that require you to wet your hands. Wet gloves or socks can irritate skin, so try to use waterproof gloves when you’re in the snow.

Lastly, don’t forget to wear sunscreen, even in the winter! Sun damage can still occur when it’s cold, and damaged skin is only more prone to dryness.

Dry skin is usually nothing more than an uncomfortable inconvenience, and it’s easy to deal with. However, chronic dry skin could signal a medical condition. Talk to your doctor or dermatologist if you can’t seem to get a handle on your dry skin.

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