How to protect your skin against winter dryness


You'll find lotion, creams and gels over the counter, but where you're traveling and how you get there may determine which moisturizer your skin needs.

High altitudes are dehydrating

If you're flying somewhere for the holidays or vacationing in high altitude ski slopes, your skin may need more than just moisture. It needs hydration.

“There's actually low air pressure and what happens to skin in low air pressure is that the water and the moisture in your skin evaporates even quicker. So, you actually get dehydrated skin versus dry skin,” said Baylor College of Medicine aesthetician Kim Chang.

What's the difference between dry and dehydrated skin?

“Dry skin is skin that doesn't produce much oil. So therefore, it doesn't retain much water either,” Chang said. “Dehydrated skin can produce oil just fine, there's just not a lot of water retention. So, when it's less humid outside, your skin gets dehydrated because the moisture evaporates quicker on your skin.”

Chang said dehydrated skin needs a glycerin or hyaluronic acid. Those are gel-like moisturizers and can be used before applying lotion or cream.

Dry skin

Chang said to use an emollient for cracked or flaky skin.

“An emollient would be something like Shea butter, Vaseline and oil. Soybean oil, mineral oil,” Chang said to look for those ingredients in lotion.

Emollients add a barrier to protect skin from wind and dry air.

“Because you're not producing that natural oil so you need something that actually protects your skin and prevents it from evaporating that water,” Chang said.

Keep showers short and avoid hot water

All products need to be applied within 60 seconds of washing hands or showering.

“Because there’s still that humidity in the air from your shower and glycerin has these great molecules that actually attract that water to retain it into your skin,” Chang said.

Chang says to limit showering to a few minutes in lukewarm temperatures.