Tips on heading off dry skin

01/08/2013 12:00 AM

01/07/2013 4:22 PM

Even though winter is relatively mild here in South Florida, our “cold” snaps can have an effect on our skin. Just a few days of dry, cool air can translate to itchy, scaly skin, but you can keep these symptoms to a minimum by taking control of your skin’s hydration levels.

One cause of dry skin is natural moisturizing factor (NMF), a blend of amino acids found naturally inside our skin cells that works to hold in moisture. Dry skin has less NMF and environmental factors such as sun exposure and low-humidity air decrease levels of NMF in our skin. (If you’ve ever wondered why skin gets dry and peels after a sunburn, it’s because UV exposure lowers NMF levels.)

Our skin compensates for arid air by producing more NMF, but it can take time (at least three days) for cells to ramp up and produce more. This is why skin often flakes and cracks after exposure to the winter elements. To give your skin a helping hand and get it back on track fast, consider these tips…

Up the ante

Any type of skin can get dehydrated come winter. Oily skins that can get away with just a daily sunscreen during the summer months may need something heavier for the winter, and year-round dry types usually need a more intense hydrator in cooler weather.

Prep for outdoors

If your travels take you to a cold climate, you’ll need to take some precautions.

Whether you plan on skiing, building a snowman or simply enjoying the scenery, it’s important to shield your skin from the elements.

In addition to the moisturizer you use, it’s a good idea to slather on a product that delivers hydration and protection. First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Cream does just this—but remember to apply sunscreen as well since UV rays reflect off snow.

And don’t neglect your lips either. Lip balm with SPF is essential as well.

Rethink bedding

Even the highest thread count cotton sheets can cause friction on dry skin — especially when it becomes chapped or even raw. Consider switching to silk pillowcases. They not only add a little luxury, they’ll help keep your skin comfy as you catch up on your beauty sleep.


If extra protection and hydration don’t improve your dry skin, see your dermatologist. When dryness progresses to cracked or raw skin, your doctor can recommend over-the-counter or prescription products that can soothe, heal and help your skin look beautiful until spring rolls around.

About Dr. Leslie Baumann

Dr. Leslie Baumann


Dr. Leslie Baumann founded the University of Miami Cosmetic Medicine and Research Institute at UM in 1997 and served on the faculty, most recently as a Professor.

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