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The 6 reasons your skin gets so dry in the winter

Hot cocoa, freshly falling snow, holiday movies on the Hallmark Channel — you truly can make a case that winter is the most wonderful time of year.

However, before we declare winter the best season, your skin would like a word. That word is “dry.”

Technically, dry skin can happen any time of the year. However, winter brings some unique elements that may affect your skin more from December through March than any other period. It’s not inevitable, though. There are several ways to prevent dry skin in the winter. Let’s first answer the question, “Why is my skin so dry?” Then, we’ll provide easy ways to keep your skin hydrated throughout the season.

woman with a turtleneck pulled over her face
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Why is my skin so dry in the winter?

Depending on your skin, the answer to this question will vary. However, there are several common culprits to look into as you pinpoint why your skin feels so dry this time of year.

  • The weather outside is frightful. The winter months are less humid, and the air is colder and dryer. These changes make it harder for the skin to lock in moisture. Any moisture you apply evaporates more quickly. As a result, the skin feels dry, tight, and may appear flaky.
  • The heat inside is…also frightful (for the skin). When it’s cold outside, where do we spend more time? Inside — with the heat on. However, the heat makes the air dry. In turn, that air dries out our skin, potentially even causing lip eczema.
  • You’re taking long, hot showers or baths. Taking a steaming-hot shower or bath can feel luxurious, particularly on a cold winter night, but it may have some unwanted side effects, including dry skin.
  • A new skincare product isn’t helping. Because winter weather changes the air and our skin, we may add new products to our regimen to combat potential issues. Sometimes, a product may dry out our skin. For example, retinol serums can help with acne, which may also increase during the winter, but it could also cause dryness.
  • You’re washing your hands more. If there’s one lesson the pandemic taught us, it’s that regular handwashing can prevent the spread of disease. Winter is cold and flu season, so you may be taking extra care to scrub your hands. This step is a good idea, but it can also dry out the skin.
  • You need to drink more water. You may feel less sticky and sweaty in the winter than you do when it’s hot out, which may cause you to drink less water. However, you may want to keep that water bottle close by all year. A 2018 study found that, at the very least, drinking water kept the outer layer of the skin hydrated.

a woman in a robe putting on a beauty product

How can I stop my skin from getting so dry during the winter?

Dry skin is common in the winter, but you don’t necessarily have to live with it. Instead, taking a few simple steps can help you keep skin feeling hydrated, soft, and flake-free, including:

  • Use a humidifier
  • Try a serum
  • Look for products with certain hydrating ingredients, such as glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid, or vitamin C
  • Put on hand cream once or twice per day to mitigate side effects of more frequent — and healthy — hand washing
  • Drink plenty of water. Apps like Water Reminder can help.
  • Keep heat and water temperatures to the lowest possible levels without sacrificing comfort.

The winter months aren’t always easy on the skin. Many factors contribute to dry skin when it gets cold out. The cold, dry air itself causes water to evaporate from the skin more quickly, making it challenging to lock in moisture. Inside, the heat also contributes to dry air. Other changes, such as taking longer and hotter showers and baths, using a new skincare product, drinking less water, and more frequent hand washing, can also cause dry skin. Using a humidifier and products with hydrating ingredients, like glycolic acid, can help. You don’t need to stop washing your hands, but be sure to use a moisturizing cream to mitigate side effects. Try to keep the heat on the lowest level you can without sacrificing comfort, and take a similar approach to the water temperature during baths or showers.

BlissMark provides information regarding health, wellness, and beauty. The information within this article is not intended to be medical advice. Before starting any diet or exercise routine, consult your physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, the United States Health & Human Services department has a free online tool that can help you locate a clinic in your area. We are not medical professionals, have not verified or vetted any programs, and in no way intend our content to be anything more than informative and inspiring.

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BethAnn Mayer
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