Ahh, that heat, it is so good for the soul. But unfortunately it’s not so great for the skin. Hot showers are a big culprit when it comes to dryness; the scorching temps can suck oils out of the skin. No need to go icy—just stick to warm, not hot. If this is a non-negotiable part of your morning routine, try to cleanse quickly, and then step out. The residual steam can actually add to skin moisture. If you take baths, adding a few drops of oils or some oats can soothe the skin. (Note: The same goes for central heating and wood-burning stoves!)
Certain soaps can be high in pH, stripping the skin of lipids, proteins, and oils and destroying our protective barrier. That squeaky-clean feeling means that the skin has lost moisture and the ability to keep out irritants. If you prefer bar-shaped cleansers, there are pH-neutral products that can do the job while actually helping to hydrate.
The Wrong Moisturizer
Remember: Lotions are less hydrating than creams. Lotions are primarily water, while creams are made mostly of oils. After finishing the shower, pat (don’t rub!) the skin dry with a cotton towel, and then immediately apply a skin cream like Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream. Waiting too long can mean compromising hydration, so lock it in quickly. Although heavily fragranced products are often preferred, they can often cause irritant dermatitis, an itchy, dry rash.
Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise—easy on the joints and great for the heart. But those who get their fix in a pool may notice flaky, irritated, itchy skin. This is because of the high chlorine content necessary to keep the water void of bacteria and other germs. Don’t sweat it! Keep up that cardio—just lube up with cream (like Vaseline Petroleum Jelly Deep Moisture Cream) after your last lap.
Sometimes dry skin can be a sign of a systemic issue or a hormonal imbalance. Fatigue, constipation, cold intolerance, muscle weakness, weight gain, hoarseness, thin hair, depression, heavy menstrual periods, along with a noticeable lack of skin moisture can be symptoms of hypothyroidism, a condition that occurs when the thyroid hormone is too low. Another instance? The plummeting estrogen levels seen in peri-menopause and menopause can lead to dryness and accentuation of fine lines. It would certainly be a good idea to consult a health care provider if you’re concerned about any of these symptoms. To add moisture, look for ingredients such as hyaluronic acid or naturally occurring lipids that can plump up the skin, while simultaneously infusing a good dose of H2O.
Your Mojito and Morning Joe
The harsh truth: Both alcohol and coffee are diuretics, which means they make you pee a lot. And this depletes the water supply to all organs (if too excessive). Keep alcohol and caffeine to a minimum and make sure to drink water throughout the day.
In addition to causing cancer and wrinkles, the sun can dry you out. Prolonged exposure to those ultraviolet rays literally causes water to evaporate from the skin. Make sure to avoid sugary beverages while enjoying the great outdoors because they just add insult to injury. And it’s not just good weather to plan for: Cold weather and windy conditions are very drying too. In addition to drinking water, choose wisely when packing that picnic for your beach trip. Seek out foods that have a high water content, such as avocados, tomatoes, cucumbers, melon, pineapple, peppers, and nuts. Guac, anyone?
Something More Serious
Sometimes dry skin is a symptom of another skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis. If there is no identifiable cause for your redness, scale, itchiness, or anything more than standard rash, a trip to your dermatologist to sort things out may be your next best step.