Dec 30 , 2019
Avoid these skin-care missteps and you'll be all set (and glowing) for the season ahead.
After reading (and, in my case, writing) a couple of bajillion winter skin-care stories, it's easy to think we all have a pretty solid grasp on the best ways to combat seasonal dryness, flakiness, scaliness, and general annoyingness. I know to slather on moisturizer straight out of the shower, swap to a gentle cleanser, put a humidifier this close to my bed at night, obsessively coat my lips with balm, and never, ever take a hot or long shower (heaven forbid). So why on earth is my skin still so freaking dry? I turned to two top dermatologists, Joshua Zeichner and Doris Day, to find out what I might still be doing wrong.
You're using lotion.
Nope. Your regular old runny moisturizer isn't going to cut it anymore. "Make sure you're using a cream, not a lotion," says Day. And while you're at it, up your dosage. "If you've been using a cream at night, make it twice a day and use it both morning and night." (For body, we adore Elemis’ Sweet Orchid Body Cream and Elemis’ Frangipani Monoi Body Cream)
You're moisturizing at the wrong time.
"Studies have shown that moisturizing immediately after bathing is significantly better than not applying moisturizer at all or applying it long after showering," says Zeichner. In the winter months, stash your body moisturizer in (yes, in!) your shower so you can apply it directly to damp skin before you step out of the steam.
Your moisturizer is missing something.
"You could be using moisturizers with the wrong ingredients," says Zeichner. "Look for skin-repairing ceramides, which fill in the cracks between skin cells and help the skin heal itself." La Mer’s The Moisturizing CREAM is an excellent option packed with skin-soothing ceramides.
You're using the wrong cleanser.
"Avoid true soaps, which have an alkaline pH and can irritate the skin, preventing it from being able to retain hydration. Use hydrating skin cleansers instead, which are gentler on the skin barrier," says Zeichner. Clinique’s Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm is great as it helps calm dryness-induced irritation almost immediately while leaving the skin soft and supple.
You're not using a sleep mask.
"The purpose [of overnight masks] is to create a permeable seal on top of your skin that makes anything underneath it penetrate better," says Day. You can apply other hydrators (serums, oils) first, then coat all of that with a thick layer of a sleep mask, and it'll help everything soak in more effectively. If you're not sure where to start with overnight masks, you can't go wrong with the award-winning Laneige Water Sleeping Mask, which feels extra thick (in a good way) and cooling on the skin.
You're forgetting about inflammation.
"Severely dry skin can lead to microscopic cracks in the outer skin layer, leading to loss of hydration, redness, inflammation, and itching. Besides improving hydration with moisturizers, you may need to help reduce inflammation with an over-the-counter cortisone cream. It's like a fire extinguisher that puts out the inflammation so that the skin can return to normal functioning," says Zeichner. He also cautions to avoid using cortisone creams for more than two weeks straight, because they can thin the skin. And if the skin is still dry or itchy after that period of time, Zeichner says it's time to visit your dermatologist for a prescription version.
Your skin-care routine doesn't involve Saran wrap.
For scaly legs, Day has a DIY remedy: After taking a (not too hot!) bath or shower, pat skin dry, slather on a rich moisturizer, and wrap your legs in plastic wrap for a few hours. "It shouldn't be so tight that it is constricting, but tight enough to occlude," she says. Then cover with long cotton tube socks and let the hydrating ingredients really seep into skin without evaporating.