When weâ€™re born, our skin is rich in oils that keep it soft and moist by holding on to water. As we age, oil production slows, cells lose their ability to easily repair themselves, and consequently even healthy skin doesnâ€™t retain moisture as well. The things we put it through -- freezing cold winds, hot, dry office heat, and less-than-perfect diets -- mean we have to work extra hard to maintain the dewy, soft skin of our youth. â€śVery few people are really good about using moisturizers and taking proper care of their skin, and this contributes to dryness and aging,â€ť says Kenneth Beer, M.D., a dermatologist in Palm Beach, Florida.
The best way to recapture baby skin (or as close as an adult can get to it) is to baby yourself -- think of it as a great excuse for a little indulgence.
Water -- though extremely hydrating internally -- can have the opposite effect externally. "Our skin is coated in a layer of natural lipids that lock in moisture," says David Bank, M.D., director of the Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic, and Laser Surgery in Mount Kisco, New York. "Washing strips away these protective oils, allowing water to escape." Hot water exacerbates this, causing moisture to evaporate more quickly. To help prevent this loss, spend less time in a really hot shower. "If you want a little heat, crank it up for a minute, but then turn it back down," says Beer. And beware of bubbles. "Soap binds with the oils on your skin, abetting water in washing them away, so choose cream- or oil-based cleansers that wonâ€™t strip the skin," says Bank.
â€śYou can help your body lotion work by applying it at just the right time,â€ť says Bank. â€śWhen skin is still damp from your shower, it will trap moisture more effectively.â€ť This goes double for hands, which are exposed to more water than any other part of the body. Stash hand cream next to the sink, at your desk -- anywhere youâ€™ll be reminded to use it often.
The best way to fight parched skin is to prevent it from happening in the first place. To counteract dry air, use a humidifier in your home. Before you even think about going outside in the cold, bundle up with hats, scarves, long socks, and gloves, which will protect against cold air and chapping winds. For severe dry skin, pay attention to what youâ€™re wearing; think soft (cotton, cashmere), not scratchy (rough wool).
â€śWhat we eat is just as important as what we slather on,â€ť says Beer. Opt for foods high in omega-3 fatty acids such as fish, and try beans, turkey, crab, and lean beef for zinc. Add foods with vitamin A like leafy greens, carrots, and sweet potatoes, and snack on nuts, seeds, and broccoli for vitamin E. â€śA diet rich in healthy oils and key nutrients helps keep skin soft and functioning optimally,â€ť says Bank.
Add pure, natural formulas to your daily routine. They're a gentle way to moisturize your skin back to baby soft.
The problem: The skin on your face is delicately thin and constantly exposed to the elements. But thereâ€™s no need to spend the winter in a ski mask.
The solution: A good lineup of products will seal in moisture while softening skin. Cream cleansers are gentle on the skin. Layering lotions on top of oils and serums will lock in hydration.
L'Oreal Paris Age Perfect Hydra-Nutrition Golden Balm Eye blends natural oils and calcium to help brighten the eye area.
John Masters Organics Pomegranate Facial Nourishing Oil is a blend of oils specifically geared toward dry skin. Bonus: Itâ€™s certified organic.
Gud from Burtâ€™s Bees Vanilla Flame Natural Body Butter is rich in shea butter, a welcome salve for rough skin.