I talk a lot about how to take care of the skin on your face, but the rest of your body is just as important and with the temperatures dropping, dry, itchy winter skin seems to inevitable. Growing up in Texas, I’d never experienced anything like it! My first winter here I had a few skin problems, like dry skin patches or eczema, which is horribly itchy if you’ve ever had it.
After one winter in Chicago, I knew I needed to find a better way to keep my skin hydrated throughout the winter months if I didn’t want to constantly be scratching my legs or arms. Another downside to letting your skin stay dry and chapped all winter is that it makes you look older than you are and who wants that? Going into my sixth (or is it seven?) Chicago winter, I’ve learned a lot about how to get glowing skin all winter long, so I’m sharing my tips for keeping your whole body soft and hydrated during the harshest months of the year.
What Causes Dry Skin?
Before I dive into saving your dry skin, knowing what causes dry skin in the first place can help you banish it for good. Here are a few common dry skin causes you may have overlooked!
Super Hot Showers
I’m guilty of taking really hot showers, especially in the winter. It feels so good! But, I’ve been trying to turn down the temperatures when I realized that it was contributing to dry skin and eczema. You don’t have to take a cold shower, but just make sure the water isn’t too hot!
Instead of washing your dishes with bare hands, try using rubber gloves—I learned that one from my mom! Hot water and soaps that are designed to get rid of grease and oil are great for pots and pans, but very harsh on your skin. The gloves will protect your hands from both.
Many laundry detergents have fragrance and harsh ingredients in them that can give you itchy skin. I realized this a few years ago and switched to a scent-free, gentle detergent and it made a big difference. All the itchiness I used to feel was gone after a single wash.
It’s tempting to just use hand sanitizer when you’re out and about—I always see it at the airport. But, the ingredient that kills bacteria is alcohol which is very drying. Repeatedly using hand sanitizer can cause dry, cracked skin. Instead, wash with hand soap and apply hand lotion afterward.
We can’t do much about this one, but the weather is a big factor in why your skin gets dry. Hello, winter! Creating a healthy winter skin care routine can help you avoid dry skin throughout the coldest months.
Have you ever spent time in Colorado or Arizona? The air is so much drier than Chicago! I actually kind of like it, but it does a number on your skin. Make sure to moisturize regularly and stay hydrated. The air gets drier in winter too, so consider adding a humidifier to your room to add a little moisture into the air.
Now, how to fix that dry skin!
Dry Skin Remedies for the Body
Exfoliate Skin Regularly
Exfoliating is key to healthy skin! It helps get rid of dead skin cells that make our skin look dull and ashy. It should also help with itchiness!
Not sure how to exfoliate or how often? I use this Coconut Citrus Sugar Scrub from Indie Lee. Not only does it do a fine job of exfoliating, the coconut oil in it leaves your skin feeling super soft and hydrated. Dry brushing is another great practice! You can do this once or twice a week before getting in the shower to help with the exfoliation process! While this step is key, you don’t want to overdo it and I recommend only exfoliating your whole body twice a week.
Best Body Scrubs
Who else shaves less frequently in the winter?! Maybe I shouldn’t admit that, but it’s true. Even though it’s less frequent, I do make sure to do it a few times a week because it actually helps exfoliate your skin. Along with hair, it removes the top layer of dead skin cells to reveal healthier skin underneath. On days that I shave, I actually do this step first, then use the sugar scrub I mentioned above to help slough off the top layer of dead skin cells.
Use Body Oil in the Shower
Have you used body oil before? If not, you should start now—it’s a lifesaver when it comes to dry skin! I got hooked during pregnancy, and now it’s a regular part of my routine because it works so well. The trick is to put it on while you’re still damp.
At the end of my shower, I wipe away as much excess water off my skin and apply my body oil, which I keep in the shower, while my skin is still damp. Then, instead of rubbing my towel around to dry off, I gently pat my skin dry and then put on my robe so the body oil can do it’s thing. I use this one from Elemis and this one from Indie Lee—I always make sure to get plenty on my belly to (hopefully) prevent stretch marks. Nordstrom carries these and a bunch of all natural skincare products, which I love! It makes shopping for everything easier since I can get it all in one stop and they have free shipping!
Moisturizing Body Oils
Apply Lotion or Body Cream Twice Daily
I have oily skin, so sometimes the body oil is enough after my shower, but often I’ll apply lotion afterwards as well to help lock in that moisture. Another key to keeping your skin looking soft and touchable all winter is consistency! I also like to apply lotion or body cream in the morning and on nights when I don’t shower to make sure my skin is getting the hydration it needs. On days where it feels extra dry, try adding a few drops of body oil to your cream before applying.
Keep Hand Lotion In Your Bag & Bedside Table
We use our hands all day long, but somehow they manage to get overlooked, which means they sometimes look the worse! I’m sure my chilly morning walks with Oliver aren’t helping with chapped hands and fingertips! I’ve started keeping hand lotion in my purse as well as this shea butter hand and nail cream from TULA on my bedside table that I apply just before bed.
Dry Hand Fixes
Keep Hand Soap and Lotion by the Sink
When I’m prepping and cooking, I find that I wash my hands or at least rinse them off multiple times. By the end of the night, my hands are super dry. Hot, soapy water will do a good job at killing bacteria on your dishes, but it’s tough on your hands.
When I’m done with dishes I wash my hands with a moisturizing soap and pat them dry. Then I apply a good squeeze of hand lotion and massage it in until it absorbs. Make sure to get the tops of your hands and wrists as well! Wearing rubber gloves while washing the dishes can be super helpful too!
Sleep in Moisture Gloves
If you naturally have dry skin, winter can make things worse! Dry hands are incredibly painful and don’t look great either, so if you fall into this category, try sleeping in moisture gloves. They’re designed to lock in moisture overnight and with regular use can get your hands back to looking their best.
Take a Bath with Salts
I’m not a big fan of baths, I get bored, but lately, they’ve been sounding more appealing—probably because my hips and lower back are more sore! I love adding bath salts with relaxing scents. They help detoxify your skin and are so relaxing. Don’t forget the candle too!
Relaxing Bath Salts
Sleep in Socks
This is basically the same as the moisture gloves, but for your feet! My mom gave me a pair of these years ago and they really work. When you’re feet are stuck in boots for months on end or you have cracked feet, this little nighttime treatment does them a world of good. I like to apply special lotion for your feet and then slip on these special socks to hold in moisture. After just a few nights of wearing them, you’ll be able to see a big difference.
Lastly, drinking lots of water will help keep your body hydrated and your skin looking full and radiant. I find that it’s harder to drink as much water during cold months because cold water just doesn’t sound good. Instead, I’ll sip on hot lemon water and herbal tea in between glasses of water. I’m still getting the hydration I need, but the warm water makes it much easier to drink!
Do you deal with drier than normal skin in the winter? What tricks do you have or products do you love to keep your skin hydrated?
In collaboration with Nordstrom.