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Dos and don’ts for dry skin

Dry skin occurs due to many different factors including age, heredity, weather, medications or skincare products. For many people, simply making a few lifestyle changes can help cure dry skin. Here are some ways to detect the reasons your skin is dry and how to help keep it moist and hydrated.

Woman with dry skin


Causes of dry skin

Dry skin is the result of age, climate, certain medications and heredity as well as using products that dry out the skin. People who work with chemicals or wash their hands often can also experience dry skin. Often, people believe that their skin is dry because it is in need of water, but Caterina Marra, L.E., a Certified Medical Esthetician who lives and works in New York, New York states, “Dry skin is lacking oil, not water.” Replenishing lost oil in the skin is the key to curing dry skin. How can you tell if your skin is dry? The American Academy of Dermatology lists the signs of dry skin as:

  • Itching
  • Scaly, rough or flaking skin
  • Cracks in skin that may bleed
  • Gray, ashy skin in dark complexions
  • Cracked or chapped lips

Caring for dry skin

Caring properly for dry skin on your face and body is important because if left untreated, germs can form under the skin and cause infection, developing into dermatitis. Caterina suggests using a mild cleanser and washing your face only in the evening. Always use warm — not hot — water. Use a cream moisturizer that contains flax seed oil or mineral oil immediately after washing to hold in the moisture. Caterina’s best advice for dry skin is to get a facial. “A proper facial will exfoliate the dead, dry flakes and add moisture. Once the dead cells are removed, the moisturizing ingredients have a better chance to penetrate the skin,” she says.

Choosing the right cosmetics for dry skin is also important. Choose a liquid or cream foundation that is oil-based so it won’t cake on your skin. Cream or liquid concealers for around the eyes and to cover breakouts or dark spots are also best. Stick with cream versions of eyeshadow and lip colors for a smoother finish that won’t cake into creases. A variety of oils are used in cosmetics, so look for products that won’t irritate your skin. Common oils used are mineral oil, baby oil, jojoba oil, almond oil and grapeseed oil. If your dry skin is also sensitive, use a product made with fragrance-free oils.

Protecting dry skin

Winter is especially rough on skin because of dry indoor heat and cold, brisk outdoor air. Marcy Street, M.D., certified dermatologist and Founder and Medical Director of Doctor’s Approach Dermatology, MedSpa and Skin Care Products suggests keeping a humidifier near your bed when the air is dry in the winter. Wear sunscreen everyday, especially in the summer to protect your skin from sun damage. Dr. Street also believes in moisturizing the skin from the inside out through diet. “Drink plenty of water and restore your skin’s natural oils with foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as fish, almonds and walnuts.” Adding crushed flaxseeds or flaxseed oil to foods you eat everyday will also benefit your skin.

Fabrics in the clothes you wear can irritate dry skin, so choose natural or lightweight fabrics like cotton, silk, rayon and linen. Avoid synthetic and wool fabrics because they can scratch and irritate skin.

More skin care tips

Dos and don’ts for acne-prone skin
Dos and don’ts for sensitive skin
Dos and don’ts for oily skin

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