Here comes winter, and, for those who don't live in Key West or Kaanapali, here comes winter dry skin. It's a vicious cycle that starts when a lack of humidity in the air causes surface tissues to dry out, which causes itching, which leads to scratching and more irritated, dry skin. By the time balmy weather returns, many women will have flakes, small cracks and even red, scaly patches.
Now's the time to plan your strategy for combating dry skin this season. Here are ten of the top weapons and battle techniques you can consider.
1) Shorten it. Shorter bathing times lead to less moisture and oil loss, enabling your skin to hang onto these elements that keep it hydrated. While you're at it, consider turning the temperature of your bath or shower water a little lower. The hotter the water, the more it robs your skin of natural oils that help keep moisture in.
2) Shower it. Because shower water runs off your skin instead of surrounding it, you actually lose less of the body's natural oils during a shower than a bath.
3) Soothe it. If you just can't give up an occasional relaxing bath, consider adding a specially formulated oatmeal to the warm water. Aveeno makes a soothing oatmeal soak--look for it at your pharmacy.
4) Skip it. When bathing or showering, you really only need to soap up a few areas of your body such as your armpits, genitals and perhaps your feet and hands. Most often there's really no need to use soap on arms, legs, torso and other areas. Choose a gentle soap to use everyday, such as Dove or the dry skin formulas from Aveeno or Neutrogena.
5) Smooth it. Smooth your skin dry after bathing by patting it gently with a towel instead of giving yourself a vigorous rubdown. Your skin is a delicate organ and should be treated with tender loving care--not like it's in need of a good scrubbing. Use a moisturizer immediately after you bathe, preferably when your skin is still damp, to help seal in the extra humidity.
6) Select it. Choose moisturizers--and you may need more than one type--carefully.