How to Care for Your Dry Skin

If you’re a sufferer of dry skin, you’re not alone. Many people experience the roughness, itching, and tightness associated with this common condition. Severe cases can even cause peeling, cracking or bleeding. Sometimes it seems like the problem will last forever when all you want is some relief. Moisturizers can provide the reprieve you’re looking for, but the underlying factors exacerbating your dry skin must be addressed in order to get the maximum benefit from a cream or lotion.

What Causes Dry Skin?

Dry skin is usually a temporary problem brought on by external conditions. Changes in the weather resulting in low humidity can affect your moisture balance. Depending on where you live, this may be most prevalent in the winter. Hot, dry climates with little rain also take a toll on skin.

Heat inside buildings from central units or wood fires can zap skin’s moisture and leave you feeling uncomfortable, and so can removing too much indoor moisture with air conditioning. If your job exposes you to these conditions, or you work in an environment where you have to wash your hands multiple times per day, you’re more likely to suffer from dry skin.

Certain medical problems can also cause skin to become dry. Eczema and psoriasis are two of the most common. Infections, including those causes by fungi, are sometimes to blame. Dry skin can be a symptom of kidney disease or hypothyroidism, or it may manifest as a side effect to some medications.

Sometimes dry skin is simply due to aging. People over age 40 tend to have more trouble with dryness because the body makes fewer natural oils over time. In this case, conditions exacerbating dry skin in younger people may be even more irritating for seniors.

What Habits Make Dry Skin Worse?

You could be drying out your own skin without even knowing it. Certain personal care habits and lifestyle factors can create prime conditions for irritation:

  • Frequent hot showers – Too much heat in the shower or bath can strip your skin of its natural oils, leaving it unprotected and prone to dryness.
  • Swimming – The chlorine in pools is a harsh chemical, and spending your summer submerged can do a number on your skin.
  • Scrubbing – Sometimes you need to use a little force take care of stubborn dirt, but scouring yourself all over does more harm than good.
  • Excessive exfoliation – Exfoliating removes dead skin cells, but it also gets rid of important oils on the skin’s surface.
  • Not wearing sunscreen – In addition to increasing your risk for skin cancer, skipping the sun protection can leave your skin unpleasantly dry.
  • Using the wrong products – Not matching your moisturizer to your skin’s needs or choosing products packed full of ingredients you can’t pronounce won’t heal dry skin and can sometimes make it even more uncomfortable.

Pay attention to your personal care regimen, and take note of any mistakes you’re making. You may be able to get rid of dry skin just by changing your habits. The right care products can help you recover from years of damaging practices.

Which Skin Care Product is Right for You?

Armed with the knowledge of what’s behind your dry skin problem, how do you choose the proper product to address it? Walking down the skin care aisle at your local department store or shopping for moisturizers online reveals a dizzying array of selections. Each makes its own claims about how it can help your skin and why one particular ingredient or formula is superior to another.

To cut through marketing hype and pinpoint which products have the power to heal your skin, you should know some of the characteristics of moisturizers. Water-based products are lighter and are best for use during the day or in the summer. They’re also preferable if your skin tends to be oily under normal conditions. The thicker nature of oil-based blends makes them good for “locking in” moisture, especially when applied before bed. You may wish to get one of each type to use at different times of day or to prevent the oils in heavy products from clogging the pores on your face.

Read all lists of ingredients as you shop, and leave products on the shelf if they contain:

  • Harsh chemicals
  • Perfumes or fragrances with no source listed
  • Multiple types of acid
  • Colorants or dyes

These components may counteract some of the beneficial effects of the moisturizer or even cause health problems over time.

Finding Lotions for Dry Skin

Skin care products made with natural ingredients are best when you want to clear up unsightly or uncomfortable patches of dry skin. Oils such as coconut, olive and hemp provide healthy fats similar to the oils in your skin and promote moisture without the need for chemicals.

These following three products can get you started on your search for a moisturizer to bring your skin back into balance.

RAD Soap. Co. Natural Hand Therapy

Dry hands are the scourge of winter and anyone whose job involves frequent hand-washing. RAD Soap’s products use only natural, plant-based ingredients to promote skin health. Formerly called Hoedown Hand Therapy, the updated Natural Hand Therapy contains soothing witch hazel and a blend of hemp, olive, sunflower and grape seed oils. A single application begins the healing process, and the positive effects last even after you wash your hands.

Nature’s Baby Organic Face & Body Moisturizer

You don’t have to be a baby to use Nature’s Baby products on your skin. The face and body wash from this company contains no fragrances and is formulated to be gentle on delicate skin. If your skin is sensitive in addition to being dry, you may benefit from the company’s organic face and body moisturizer. Jojoba oil, aloe and calendula are combined with other organic ingredients to create a product powerful enough for the body but light enough to use on your face without clogging pores.

The Wonder Seed Hydrating Hemp Body Lotion

Available in Water Lotus and Fresh Jasmine scents, the hemp body lotion from The Wonder Seed harnesses the power of hemp oil to deliver much-needed moisture to dry skin. The Wonder Seed uses no chemicals or animal-derived ingredients and relies on essential oils for scents. Hemp oil is a key ingredient in this fast-absorbing lotion and contains essential fatty acids to nourish all your rough spots.

The Bottom Line

By changing poor personal care habits and making careful comparisons between skin care products, you can banish dry skin and all the irritation it causes. It may take some trial and error to discover the right product or combination of products for your skin, but you’ll know once you’ve hit on the perfect choice. Stick with what works, and be diligent in your overall personal care regimen to keep your skin healthy.

If the symptoms of dry skin don’t improve or become worse despite your best efforts, visit your doctor to determine if another condition is at the root of the problem. Your doctor can refer you to a dermatologist for a more comprehensive evaluation and targeted treatment to clear your skin completely.