How to Prevent Dry Skin as Fall Approaches?

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Fall is on its way: The air is getting crisp, boots have made their way back into the rotation, and soon our glowing summer complexions will give way to irritable, dry skin. Thankfully, the latter seasonal side effect is entirely avoidable, thanks to dermatologist’s findings, who suggest that a few simple preventative measures will make all the difference in how you look and feel between the moment the leaves start falling to spring’s first bloom.

Simple changes can soothe dry skin

Following the same skincare routine year-round may not work so well when the humidity drops. Without a change in your skin care, dry air can make fine lines and wrinkles more noticeable. Dry skin can itch, flake, crack, and even bleed.

To help heal dry skin and prevent its return, dermatologists recommend the following.

  1. Prevent baths and showers from making dry skin worse. When your skin is dry, be sure to:
  • Close the bathroom door 
  • Limit your time in the shower or bath to 5 or 10 minutes
  • Use warm rather than hot water 
  • Wash with a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser 
  • Apply enough cleanser to remove dirt and oil, but avoid using so much that you see a thick lather
  • Blot your skin gently dry with a towel
  • Slather on the moisturizer immediately after drying your skin
  1. Apply moisturizer immediately after washing. Ointments, creams, and lotions (moisturizers) work by trapping existing moisture in your skin. To trap this much-needed moisture, you need to apply a moisturizer within a few minutes of:
  • Drying off after a shower or bath
  • Washing your face or hands
  1. Use an ointment or cream rather than a lotion. Ointments and creams are more effective and less irritating than lotions. Look for a cream or ointment that contains an oil such as olive oil or jojoba oil. Shea butter also works well. Other ingredients that help to soothe dry skin include lactic acid, urea, hyaluronic acid, dimethicone, glycerin, lanolin, mineral oil, and petrolatum.

Tip: Carry a non-greasy hand cream with you, and apply it after each hand washing. This will greatly help relieve dry skin.

  1. Wear lip balm. Choose a lip balm that feels good on your lips. Some healing lip balms can irritate your lips. If your lips sting or tingle after you apply the lip balm, switch to one that does not cause this reaction.
  2. Use only gentle, unscented skin care products. Some skin care products are too harsh for dry, sensitive skin. When your skin is dry, stop using:
  • Deodorant soaps
  • Skin care products that contain alcohol, fragrance, retinoids, or alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA)

Avoiding these products will help your skin retain its natural oils.

  1. Wear gloves. Our hands are often the first place we notice dry skin. You can reduce dry, raw skin by wearing gloves. Be sure to put gloves on before you:
  • Go outdoors in winter
  • Perform tasks that require you to get your hands wet
  • Get chemicals, greases, and other substances on your hands
  1. Choose non-irritating clothes and laundry detergent. When our skin is dry and raw even clothes and laundry detergent can be irritating. To avoid this:
  • Wear cotton or silk under your clothing made of wool or another material that feels rough
  • Use laundry detergent labeled “hypoallergenic”
  1. Stay warm without cozying up to a fireplace or other heat source. Sitting in front of an open flame or other heat sources can dry your skin.
  2. Add moisture to the air. Plug in a humidifier. If you can check your home heating system, find out if you have a humidifier on the system — and whether it’s working.

Make these a Routine

In other words, before the first signs of epidermal discomfort take hold, one of the easiest ways to arm yourself is to invest in a humidifier for your bedroom.

  • Increasing the moisture in the air will help prevent your skin from drying out. Using it every night (even while it’s still semi-warm outside) for best results, helps to rehydrate your skin for the days ahead.
  • Next, make some revisions on your skincare routine. Dedicating a few minutes to exfoliation twice a week will give you a leg up when the humidity drops below your comfort level.
  • When skin gets dry, dead skin cells pile up, making it impossible for any moisturizer to penetrate. This biweekly ritual will prep the surface of your skin for fall’s richer creams.
  • Fall is all about layering—in clothing and in skincare. A hyaluronic acid serum or a formula packed with antioxidants followed by a rich moisturizer or oil (fragrance-free are the least irritating) will help plump and brighten your skin for the long haul.
  • To seal in the hydration, Bowe recommends patting your face with micellar water, like Simple’s cleansing water to pack in extra moisture before bed. And come morning, don’t forget the sunscreen.
  • Finally, for the from-within glow, bolster your diet with items like sardines, olive oil, flax seeds, and avocados that are rich in omega-3s and fatty acids to help replace natural fats lost in cold weather.
  • Avoiding ingredients like refined carbohydrates (white bread, pasta, dried fruit) and dairy will further stave off inflammation, and thus dryness.

When to see a dermatologist

Your skin should start to feel better quickly. If these changes do not bring relief, you may want to see a dermatologist. Very dry skin can require a prescription ointment or cream. Dry skin also can be a sign of a skin condition that needs treatment. A dermatologist can examine your skin and explain what can help reduce your discomfort.

Sources: American Academy of Dermatology

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