Dry skin can affect almost anyone, and especially during the cooler months of fall and winter. Of course, the best way to manage dry skin is not to get it in the first place (avoid harsh chemicals and hot showers, wear gloves when you wash dishes—you know the drill). But sometimes dry skin might be a regular part of life.

Whether it’s a regular occurrence or a seasonal surprise, here are five tips to help soothe dry skin.

1. Maintain the humidity


Water, water everywhere is a good rule of thumb in treating dry skin. If you live in a cold or dry climate, you may want to place a couple of humidifiers or vaporizers around the house to keep moisture in the air.

For an easy and inexpensive hack, simmer a large pot of water on the stove when you’re at home. You can add aromatics such as cinnamon sticks, whole allspice, cloves and fresh rosemary to give your entire house a welcoming scent. Just check the pot periodically and add water as needed, and be sure to turn off the burner before you leave the house or go to bed.

2. Alter your bathing routine

There are several things you can do when bathing to help your skin retain moisture and not get irritated.

  • Hot water zaps moisture from your body and skin. Keep the water temperature of your showers as low as possible. Try to limit your showers to five to 10 minutes.
  • Close the bathroom door to trap steam and humidity inside, which can help your skin retain moisture.
  • Use only enough body soap and shampoo to do the job to reduce the likelihood of skin irritation.

Afterward, apply moisturizer while your body is still wet (believe it or not, olive oil works great in a pinch!), and lightly pat your skin dry instead of rubbing it with a towel.

3. Tend to your scalp

If you’re scratching your head or wiping tiny flakes off your shoulders, your scalp may be dry. This is a very common cold weather condition.

Try these steps before your next shampoo:

  • First, massage your scalp for a few minutes. Running a soft, natural boar bristle brush through your hair helps loosen dead cells and remove hair product buildup.
  • Next, rub coconut oil into your scalp and distribute it through to the ends of your hair.
  • Cover your hair with a shower cap for about 45 minutes.

Then rinse thoroughly and shampoo and condition as usual.

4. Get a manicure and pedicure

Hands and feet are some of the first places that dry skin affects. If your fingers feel rough and ashy, or your heels are cracked and scaly, treat yourself to a professional manicure and pedicure if you’re able.

Some salons offer paraffin treatments too, which are a great option. Paraffin wax can be applied to your hands and feet, then peeled off leaving moist skin behind.

If you can’t make it to the salon, you can tend to your hands and feet at home with a few simple tools like a pumice stone and moisturizing foot cream. Pro tip: Slather on foot cream before bed and wear a pair of cotton socks overnight. This will help keep your feet hydrated and retain moisture.

5. Pick the right products

As mentioned, prevention is key for combatting dry skin, and prevention often starts in the shopping aisle. Here’s what to look for in your search for moisturizers and conditioners that work best for your skin type and condition.

  • Select ointments and creams instead of lotions
  • Look for ingredients such as lanolin, jojoba oil, colloidal oatmeal or shea butter
  • Choose unscented bath soap, hand soap and laundry detergent
  • Check out samples first, feel free to experiment and pick what you like best
  • Variety is OK: you’ll likely end up with different products for your lips, face, neck, hands, feet and body

Updated November 9, 2021

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