Combat Dry Skin this Winter

With winter sitting squarely on our doorstep, it's time to combat the changes in our skin that we're all facing. Whether you experience tight skin after washing your face or have an all-over chronically dry complexion, for many of us, dry skin is a common concern. Read on to learn how you can treat dry skin and bring moisture back. Dry skin occurs when moisture it lost through the outer layers of our skin.

Some other culprits of dry skin:

Sun damage.
The sun emits harmful UV radiation that weakens our skin, which overtime damages our cells leaving it with the inability to retain moisture.

Decreased oil production.
As we age, the chemistry of our skin changes and the production of sebum typically slows down, causing skin to both look and feel dry.

With every changing season, the humidity level in the air changes, causing a change in the levels of moisture in our skin. Geographic location and the environment of our homes can also affect skin. Extreme northern climates and dryer areas of the southwest can leave skin papery dry. Heat and air conditioning unit also suck moisture from the air and skin.

Medical conditions.
There are some health conditions that can also cause dry skin. Some examples include diabetes, thyroid disorders, AIDS, cancer and kidney disease. Dry skin is also common in patients with psoriasis and eczema.

There are a variety of prescription and over-the-counter medications that can lead to dry skin, including drugs for high cholesterol and diuretics. Retinoid creams for acne and aging skin are also notorious for their drying effects. Ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide can leave the skin looking dry and flaky.

Avoid hot water.
Although a steamy bath may be your favorite way to unwind, hot water strips the skin of moisture and its natural protective oils. Adjust the temperature to warm and limit bath time to just 10-20 minutes once a week.

Cleanse carefully.
When washing your face, choose a gentle, creamy, soap-free cleanser that removes the dirt and impurities on the skin's surface without stripping skin of its natural oils. Murad Moisture Rich Cleanser is a non-foaming lotion that effectively cleanses the skin without drying it. You should also avoid heavily-scented or perfumed cleansers, which can lead to dryness.

Moisturizers bind water to the skin and help its outermost layers lock in moisture. To keep skin from feeling dry or itchy, look for formulas that contain lanolin, shea butter, petrolatum, mineral oil, glycerin, dimethicone or hyaluronic acid. For the face, Murad Perfecting Night Cream contains essential fatty acids to retain moisture and sunflower oil to encourage supple, touchable skin.

Wear sunscreen.
Protect yourself against the sun's harmful rays, which break down the skin's surface and zap it of moisture. Sunscreen also helps defend against age spots, wrinkles and can ward off skin cancer. Look for sunscreen formulated specifically for dry skin to help boost moisture levels with an SPF of 15 or higher.

The easiest way to put moisture back into the air when humidity levels are low is to run a humidifier, especially in the cold weather months. Look for tabletop varieties, or even consider attaching one to your furnace to automatically feed moisture into the air when the heat is on.
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