Plus, how to avoid flaky, parched skin in the first place

By Mona Gohara, MD
November 07, 2016

Has it happened yet? You know, that plume of skin that flies out when you take off your socks in the winter or the itchy patch of dry skin on your elbows and shins that you can't ever stop scratching? These are all unpleasant reminders that you're not taking care of my biggest organ-your skin. So is scratching that dry skin bad for you? Not really. The fact that you want or need to scratch is the real issue. Because who wants to feel itchy all the time?

Dry skin is an inevitable consequence if you linger a little longer in front of wood-burning fireplaces, or in steamy showers, both of which you're more likely to do when the temperature drops. Those flakes mean one thing: The protective barrier responsible for locking moisture in and keeping irritants out of your skin is compromised. Many factors can disrupt that barrier: cold temps, cranked-up heat, outside wind, harsh soaps, and alcohol-based toners to name a few. And it's time to make a change. First, arm yourself with the best skin care routine for dry skin, then check out these tips on how to keep your skin supple and soft all winter long:

Wash with something mild

Pick a gentle, hydrating, non-soap bar. The Dove White Beauty Bar ($5; is a good choice. Traditional soaps with high pH levels strip the skin of natural, protective oils in the cleansing process, so avoid them.

Pat, don't rub

When you need a little extra help at combatting the flakes, pat the skin dry; don't rub it. And use some moisturizer within minutes of getting out of your warm (not hot) shower. One with petrolatum, dimethicone, glycerin, or hyaluronic acid may work best. Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair Unscented Lotion ($4; is a great choice because it has micro-droplets of the cult classic petroleum jelly with a cosmetically smooth feel. Put a little extra on your cheeks to avoid wind burn.

Breathe easier

Next, make sure to use a humidifier in your house. It not only puts moisture back into dry, stale air, but it can also help clear a stuffy nose.

Prep skin before bed

Before hitting the sack, try applying a hydrating sheet mask a few times a week. If applied over a hyaluronic acid-based serum, you can except phenomenal radiance.

Adjust the thermostat

Finally, bring the temperature in the house down at night while you sleep. Keep warm with blankets or clothing instead of skin-drying heat.