How to Care for Your Dry Skin, According to a Dermatologist
This is part of our weekly series Test Drive, where our team of beauty experts demystify products and tools, and explore new techniques IRL.
I'm barely going outside right now, but my skin is still feeling the effects of the cold, harsh winter. As someone with dry, sensitive skin, the low temperatures and the lack of humidity can make my body feel super itchy and flaky, which are major signs that I need to moisturize ASAP, says Orit Markowitz M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Mount Sinai in New York City. She says these are symptoms of severely dry skin, and no one should wait until it gets to this point. "If you start to see a white film, or your skin gets red when you scratch it and it doesn't go away, or your skin just isn't as supple or smooth, you need to manage it so it doesn't get worse," she explains. Just like your face and your hands, your body needs lots of moisture, too.
How to Take Care of Dry Skin This Winter
It's actually super easy (and affordable) to get baby-soft smooth all year long, including during these harsher months. Here are Markowitz's top tips on how to moisturize your dry skin this winter.
Pay Attention to the Formula
Choosing the best products is pretty easy. When it comes to moisturizer, the thicker the formula, the better, Markowitz explains. So, the best would be an ointment, then a cream, next a lotion, and lastly, gels and most oils. "My recent go-to is Aquaphor Ointment Body Spray & Dry Skin Relief ($10, Target)," Markowitz says. "It's the best of both worlds. It's more of an ointment, but not as thick or greasy." Personally, I've been loving the Josie Maran Whipped Argan Oil Body Butter ($36, Sephora) because it's super thick and hydrates my skin all day long. Another great option for sensitive skin is Nécessaire The Body Lotion ($25, Nordstrom) if you'd like a lighter formula.
When it comes to washing your body, Markowitz says to avoid shower gels and anything with a strong fragrance as they can all be drying and irritating. Instead, Markowitz says to try Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Wash with Soothing Oat ($7, Target). I'm partial to bar soaps to be environmentally conscious, and Markowitz tells me that's fine, but stick to one without fragrance. I like Dove Sensitive Skin Unscented Beauty Bar Soap ($9, Target).
Moisturize Right After the Shower
The best time to apply your cream is right after you shower, and it doesn't matter what time of day it is. You just need to take the time to moisturize thoroughly, Markowitz says. "Once you get out of the shower, pat your body dry, but do not rub or scrub," Markowitz says. Then, apply your thick moisturizer to seal the moisture into your skin. To get into the habit of moisturizing right after you shower, just add it as a step to your skincare routine. I apply my body cream right after I put toner on my face.
Use a Humidifier
Even if you're not spending much time outside in the cold, the air inside your home can still negatively affect your skin. A humidifier increases the amount of moisture in the air and can help with dry skin. Check out our top humidifier picks, including the top-rated Homech Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier ($40, originally $100, Amazon).
Don't Scrub Your Skin
Markowitz says to never harshly scrub your skin in the shower, especially with micro beads. "Skin is your barrier from the outside environment; when you’re scraping your skin, you're compromising your barrier," she explains. "Originally, you'll think, 'Hey, my skin feels so smooth,' but over time, the skin requires more and more products to repair it."