Among adults in the United States age 40 and up, 50% struggle with symptoms of dry skin and cold winter temperatures only exacerbate existing problems. Keep your skin looking and feeling fresh this winter with a few simple tips.

1. Invest In A Humidifier

Dry air makes dry skin worse. While there is not much you can do about the outdoors, there are plenty of things you can do about the air quality in your home. Hot, dry air in our houses can remove necessary moisture from our skin, leading to flaking, peeling, and cracking.

To fix this problem, invest in a humidifier for your bedroom. A humidifier reintroduces moisture back into the air and into the top layer of your skin. When the outer layer of your skin is properly hydrated, it produces natural oils that protect you from moisture loss, skin irritants, germs, and allergens. It also keeps skin smooth and intact.

2. Try Out Samples

There are plenty of products out there to help moisturize skin or repair dry, cracked skin. In many cases, the problem is that these products can get pricey and there are often too many to choose from. Find out what products you like and what products work best for you by taking advantage of free promotional samples. Identity Works reports that as many as 92% of consumers hold onto promotional products because they find them genuinely useful.

Try out a variety of skincare products, including lotions, face creams, hand creams, and ointments by requesting free samples from companies’ websites or visiting brick-and-mortar stores.

3. Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dermatologist

When you are sick, you go to the doctor. Every six months, many of us visit the dentist for recommended biannual checkups. Visiting the dermatologist should be just as comfortable and routine.

If you experience any of the following, check in with a dermatologist in your area:

  • Your skin is so dry and itchy you cannot sleep
  • Dry skin causes open sores or skin infections
  • You have large patches of peeling, cracked, or red-raw skin
  • Symptoms of dry skin are chronic and do not respond to over-the-counter treatments
  • Redness or rashes spread to your entire body, and/or you spike a fever

4. Shower And Bathe The Right Way

While you may think nothing of it, the shower you take every morning may be to blame for your raw, dry skin. If your skin is flaking and peeling in the winter cold, mitigate further symptoms and return moisture to your skin by closing the door when you shower and using mild, unscented soaps. Use just enough soap to get clean and avoid thick foams, bubbles, and lather. You should also keep bath or shower water lukewarm and limit bathing and showering to just five to 10 minutes. After you get out of the shower or bath, pat your skin dry instead of rubbing or toweling off dry skin.

5. Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize!

Dry skin occurs when the top layer of skin becomes irritated, which, in turn, prevents skin from absorbing moisture and makes the problem worse and worse. Prevent this from happening with healthy, hydrated skin. Keep skin hydrated by moisturizing.

For best results, apply moisturizer directly after showering or getting out of the bath. If you do this immediately after showering, the product you apply will help lock moisture into your skin. You can achieve a similar effect by applying creams and ointments after washing your face.

In fact, you should use an ointment or cream rather than a lotion, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), a group of over 20,000 practicing dermatologists. Compared to creams and ointments, lotions are much more likely to contain ingredients and fragrances that may irritate your skin. Plus, creams and ointments act as emollients and/or water-soluble treatments. Emollients boost moisture and provide relief from dry, itchy skin. Many also create a barrier between your skin and the elements, providing an extra layer of protection.

Finally, don’t forget your lips! Your lips can be just as sensitive — or more so — than the rest of your skin. Regularly apply a lip balm with sunscreen to lock in moisture and protect your lips from peeling or cracking.

6. Avoid Skin Irritants

Anything containing harsh chemicals, including soaps and laundry detergent, can have devastating effects on your skin. When purchasing soaps, face wash, or body wash, avoid products with alcohol, retinoids, strong fragrances, or alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA). While these acids aren’t like the dangerous acids found in compressor fluids and other technological applications and are actually in many skincare products, they can damage your skin in the long-run. Any of these products can be abrasive and remove natural oils that help keep skin moisturized and healthy.

Similarly, purchase scent-free or hypoallergenic laundry detergents and fabric softeners and avoid itchy or scratchy clothing. Wool and synthetic fabrics are most notorious for irritating dry skin. If you must wear them, wear a thin cotton layer underneath to protect your skin.

7. Cover Up

For smooth, young-looking skin, bundle up this winter! Wear appropriately warm clothes when you go outside, and — when temperatures drop especially low — always throw on a scarf and a pair of gloves. Gloves are also necessary whenever you handle chemicals, abrasive materials, or grease. If you are washing dishes with scalding hot water, wear gloves to avoid getting hands wet and exposing hands to hot water!

Skin imperfections can lead to low self-esteem and depression. In a pharmaceuticals study, 44% of women admitted that rashes, dry skin, stretch marks, and scars affected their self-esteem. Boost your confidence and comfort this winter by using the suggestions above for smoother, healthier skin.

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