Resting Mom Face
I Used To Have Dry Skin All Over My Body — Until I Discovered These Products
Plus, dermatologist-approved tips — from slugging your feet to using cotton-lined dish gloves.
Extreme dry skin on my body is one of those things I used to accept as a fact of life in winter. When the temperatures drop outside, so do moisture levels in the air; itchiness and scaly patches just seem to follow. Things are better in warm weather, but I’m one of those people who battles dry, flakey skin year round. Until I learned a few useful tips from my most trusted dermatologists and skin experts.
A lot of things can contribute to dry skin, from the lack of water vapor in the air to long, hot showers (sadly, a no-no), but at the end of the day it’s all about finding ways to maintain your skin’s natural moisture levels and avoid things that will throw it out of whack. Ahead are a few genius (and easy!) ways to keep your skin feeling and looking super supple from top to toe.
1. Invest In A Humidifier
No, it doesn’t have to be the priciest one you keep getting served on social media. Ranella Hirsch, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in Massachusetts uses one from CVS ($35) that she swears works like a charm and makes a huge difference in how her skin looks and feels. That said, there are others on the market that range in price — from Canopy ($125) to Vitruvi ($229) to Dyson ($559) — so feel free to choose whichever model suits your budget. As for where to place your humidifier? “Any space where you spend eight or more hours a day is a perfect place to put a humidifier,” Hirsch adds. “While it seems so simple, adding one of these into said room will make a drastic difference in your skin.”
Humidifier hack: If you’re in an office and there’s dry heat pumping through, Hirsch recommends filling a ceramic bowl with water and setting it near you. “The water will evaporate and diffuse into the air, which will mimic the benefits of a humidifier,” she says.
2. Try A Moisture Cocktail
It can be tempting to respond to flakes by scrubbing them away, but think of them as messengers instead. “Dry, flaky skin in the winter is a sign that your skin is asking for a moisturizer, not exfoliation,” warns Hirsch. Moisturizers come in three different types (although most formulas have elements of all three).
These types of moisturizers attract water — common skin care ingredients like glycerin, propylene glycol, and hyaluronic acid would fall into this category, Hirsch says.
Some body moisturizers with humectants I personally love are LilFox Pink Tonka + Yuzu The Body Complex with moisture-rich babassu, glycerin, vitamin A-packed dew beans that gently exfoliate your skin and U Beauty The Super Body Hydrator, which feels divine and is a “treat yourself” type of product packed with hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and shea butter and avocado oil. Beauty Pie Über Youth Neck & Chest Lift Serum-Spray ($75) also has brightening niacinamide in it and keeps the delicate skin on my chest hydrated for hours on end, while BioEffect EGF Body Serum leaves my skin feeling hydrated and bouncy for hours and hours; the brand invented a unique way to use barley to produce an epidermal growth factor (a protein naturally found in the skin) that keeps it looking youthful and it really works.
These hydrators seal in moisture by blocking its escape. A classic occlusive skin care ingredient is petrolatum; two I use often are Vaseline and FutureWise Slugging Balm to help lock in moisture.
These lubricate and mimic the substances that exist between your cells to hold them together and can be found in ingredients like lanolin, dimethicone, and petrolatum.
One emollient-rich body moisturizer I’ve been loving is Bio-Oil Body Lotion — if you don’t want to be slathered in a thick cream but still want the hydrating benefits of glycerin-based moisturizer, try this sensitive skin-approved, fragrance-free option. Vaseline Sensitive Skin Relief with 48 Hour Moisture is also a great choice because it feels light on your skin, yet still moisturizes — plus, it contains petrolatum and soothing colloidal oatmeal.
3. Gently Exfoliate (Only If Necessary)
If you feel the need to exfoliate your skin, Hirsch recommends looking for a body cleanser with urea or lactic acid. “Urea mildly exfoliates the skin while also being a humectant, while lactic acid is a non-irritating exfoliator that’s great for the colder months,” says Hirsch. Try Cerave Soothing Body Wash for Dry Skin and Eczema and Kosas Good Body Skin AHA + Enzyme Exfoliating Body Wash.
Another option is to try a lotion with urea. “The urea is buffered in a moisturizer and formulated with the right percentages (like 10% Urea), so they won’t be irritating,” Dr. Hirsch explains. She loves Amlactin Ultra Smoothing Intensely Hydrating Cream and Isdin Uradin Lotion 10, and I’ve been loving Soft Services Carea Cream Daily Toning Lotion for Body, which contains urea, squalane, and colloidal oatmeal — it’s a fragrance-free blend of gently exfoliating and calming ingredients, and I’m obsessed.
For dry elbows, Hirsch recommends using a urea cream, then layering an occlusive over top, like Vaseline ($2) or Aquaphor ($5) to seal in the moisture.
4. Avoid Piping-Hot Showers
I know that on some nights nothing sounds better than a steamy, cozy shower or bath, but all that heat will strip the moisture right from your skin, leaving it dry and itchy. Instead, try turning the dial back just a smidge — trust me, your skin will thank you.
5. Apply Moisturizer Before Showering
If your skin is especially prone to flakes and scaliness, try applying a light layer of your favorite body moisturizer to the driest parts of your body. This actually provides a lubricated layer that keeps your natural oils from being stripped away, while still allowing you to cleanse your body thoroughly in the tub or shower, explains Hirsch. (Just choose to slather one on pre-shower that isn’t pricey!)
6. Seal In The Moisture
After you’ve lightly towel-dried off after your shower, immediately apply a body cream to seal in the moisture that’s still on your skin. Think of this way: a damp sponge aborbs more than a dry sponge, so if you picture your skin as a sponge, this method makes perfect sense — and it works! Dr. Hirsch recommends First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream (for face and body) or Cerave Moisturizing Cream.
7. Mind Your Hands
If dry, cracked hands and knuckles are the bane of your existence, take a break from harsh antibacterial hand soaps. Instead, swap in a formula designed for your face, like Vanicream Gentle Cleanser ($16) and Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser ($15), or look for hand soaps that are labeled “gentle,” like Free & Clear Liquid Cleanser for Gentle Skin, says Dr. Hirsch.
And when you’re washing dishes, use gloves that have a cotton lining in them, like Mr. Clean Bliss Premium Cotton Gloves; the lining allows for breathability, protecting the hydration in your hands.
Finally, don’t forget a good hand cream. I’m obsessed with Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Nighttime Balm with Natural Oatmeal and Aesop Rind Concentrate Body Balm (which I use on my hands).
8. Slug Your Feet
“In the shower, gently use a pumice stone to take down some of the dry skin,” Hirsch says. “Then, the best trick is to take a huge glob of petroleum jelly, apply it to your feet, and then slip on a high sock and wear them to bed.” She says your feet will most likely sweat a little bit at night and the combination of sweating, the moisture that you’re applying with petroleum jelly, and the occlusion from the sock will create magic that will leave your feet feeling super soft by morning.