Cold winter weather seems to go hand-in-hand with itchy, scaly, dull skin. Most of us tend to blame the heating systems for pumping all of that hot, dry air into our homes and offices. We’re not wrong – hot furnaces do aggravate the problem – but the main culprit may be the cold winter air itself. Cold air holds less moisture than warm air, which means that what little moisture is around quickly gets absorbed into the air. The result: moisture evaporates more quickly from your body, which dries out your skin. Interestingly, it also dries out the inside of your nose, making you more prone to illness. Your mucus gets drier, which means it’s less able to trap germs. Fortunately, there are ways to battle the dryness.
1. Use a humidifier: Home humidity levels should be between 30 and 50 percent. You don’t want too much humidity or you’ll be battling mold instead of dryness, and possibly causing respiratory issues. An alternative to humidifiers is to place large bowls of water around your home. The water evaporates and adds water to the air.
2. Take shorter, cooler (warm instead of hot) showers: Your body’s natural oil barrier gets stripped away in a hot shower faster than it does in a warm one.
3. Switch your cleanser: Your soap may be adding to the problem, too. Use a mild, fragrance-free, non-soap cleanser or moisturizing shower gel. And avoid using skin care products that contain alcohol.
4. Apply a natural, heavy moisturizer at least once daily (the drier your skin, the thicker your moisturizer should be): Slather it on right after you step out of the shower (before you towel off) to trap the moisture on top of your skin. Look for products that contain ceramide, an ingredient that helps replace the skin’s natural oils. Remember to moisturize after washing your hands, too.
5. Wear gloves: When you’re washing dishes and when you go outside.