Dry, Winter Skin? Here’s How to Deal, According to a Dermatologist
It’s bad enough dealing with brutally cold temps and harsh winds when we have to go outside come winter, but the frigid weather, along with an uptick in artificial heating and steamy hot showers, can also wreak havoc on our skin and cause it to dry out very quickly and become incredibly itchy. In fact, recent results from a CeraVe survey* — conducted online by Harris Poll of among around 2,000 U.S. adults — found that dryness (69 percent), itchiness (51 percent) and redness (24 percent) were rated the top three most bothersome winter skin concerns. In addition, the survey found that six in 10 people deem their skin “unhealthy” in the winter.
While those results may not be that shocking, we were surprised to discover that more than 26 percent of Americans don’t adapt their skin-care routine to the cooler season — at least not until concerns like dryness or itchiness kick in. What’s more, 25 percent of Americans admitted to not using a moisturizer to combat dry winter skin at a time when skin arguably needs that extra TLC the most. By providing expert-approved tips and solutions on how to care for your skin in the winter, we hope to impact some of those numbers — for the better. Without further ado, read on to discover expert tips on how to care for your dry winter skin — courtesy of New York-based dermatologist Dr. Shari Marchbein — and to learn more about hydrating CeraVe products that can make all the difference for your skin.
Why Does Skin Get Dry in the Winter?
Before we get into how to prevent dry skin in the winter, it’s important to understand why flakes and uncomfortable dryness and itchiness occur in the first place. We know that cold weather, harsh winds, and artificial heating are common culprits, and Dr. Marchbein explains why: “The moisture in our skin tends to evaporate more quickly in the winter,” she says. “The lack of humidity causes the air to suck the moisture from our skin. It’s not just the dry air, though. The low temperatures and wind can cause chapped skin, which can be especially uncomfortable if it’s dry as well. Oftentimes, how we choose to warm up during the winter can also lead to dry skin, like long, steamy showers and cranking up the heat! That’s why while a proper skin-care routine is a year-round necessity, it’s especially important during the winter.”
Can You Avoid Dry Skin in the Winter?
We’ll start with the bad news: “Winter skin definitely isn’t just for us living in the colder states,” Dr. Marchbein says. “People are surprised to hear that states known for sunshine, like Florida, do actually experience a temperature drop as well. Any change to the climate that we’re used to can affect our skin.” The good news is that getting relief from dry, itchy winter skin is possible.
How to Care for Dry, Itchy Winter Skin
TIP 1: Switch Your Moisturizer
Still using your lightweight moisturizer from summer? Dr. Marchbein recommends swapping it for one rich in moisturizing ingredients like ceramides, which can be found in all CeraVe moisturizers. “One of my favorite benefits of CeraVe products is the use of MVE technology, which slowly releases the ingredients over time, allowing them to absorb into the skin to hydrate and nourish, providing long-lasting moisturizing benefits your skin needs,” she says.
TIP 2: Avoid Long, Hot Showers
When it’s cold outside, many of us enjoy warming up in a steamy shower. While scalding hot water may feel relaxing on your skin, it could be causing additional dryness you most certainly don’t need. “I really reinforce that showers shouldn’t be long and steamy,” Dr. Marchbein says. “If your skin is red after a shower, that means the temperature is too hot.” Stick to lukewarm showers that are on the shorter side.
TIP 3: Moisturize Often
One of the easiest ways to keep dry skin in check this winter is to be diligent with your moisturizing habits. That includes moisturizing often, but also using a powerful formula. All CeraVe moisturizers contain ceramides, which Dr. Marchbein calls “the glue that holds your skin together.” “Ceramides help keep moisture in while also maintaining the skin’s protective barrier,” she says. “That’s why they’re especially important during the winter. I recommend my patients use CeraVe Moisturizing Cream right after showering. Apply it all over your body while your skin is still wet to help lock in moisture.”
TIP 4: Wear Non-Irritating Fabrics
Winter weather calls for a change in wardrobe. Loose, cotton sundresses are replaced with thick and cozy sweaters that may be made with irritating materials. “A lot of people find wool to be itchy and uncomfortable,” Dr. Marchbein says. “If you find your winter wardrobe is irritating your skin, apply a moisturizing cream and wear a breathable top under your sweater, such as a cotton T-shirt. You can also opt for softer materials without sacrificing warmth, such as cashmere or fleece.”
Editor’s Note: Still can’t seem to ditch the itch? Dr. Marchbein recommends applying an itch relief cream like CeraVe Itch Relief Moisturizing Lotion.
TIP 5: Bundle Up
“Bundle up before heading outside,” Dr. Marchbein says. “Wear a hat, scarf and gloves to protect parts of the body that can be exposed to winter elements like wind.”
TIP 6: Sleep With a Humidifier
Because low humidity levels can contribute to drier conditions, Dr. Marchbein suggests placing a humidifier in your bedroom. “I always use a humidifier in my bedroom during the winter to help restore lost moisture to the air while I sleep,” she says.