Woman treating dry skin at home

The Most Common Causes of Dry Skin in the Winter (And What to Do About Them)

The weather outside might be frightful, but even indoor air can wreak havoc on your skin. If you’re dealing with winter dry skin, here are some simple solutions to help keep it under control and stop the itching, redness, and flaking. 

Why Is My Skin So Dry in the Winter? 

Almost everyone has dealt with dry, itchy skin in the winter. Even if you usually have an oily or normal skin texture, a combination of environmental factors can leave your skin feeling tight and uncomfortable.

The simple explanation for winter dry skin is a lack of humidity. When temperatures drop, so do moisture levels in the air. Turning up the heat indoors also reduces humidity, meaning your skin isn’t getting the same amount of natural moisture. 

The more in-depth explanation for winter dry skin has to do with your skin’s structure. The outermost layer, known as the epidermis, has a protective barrier called the stratum corneum, or skin barrier. This layer consists of skin cells and lipids and protects the deeper layers from toxins. 

When humidity levels are low during the winter, the skin barrier cannot perform as well as it should. It also contains fewer lipids. Essentially, this causes damage to the skin barrier, which ultimately causes a dry, cracked appearance and irritation.

Other Reasons for Winter Dry Skin 

Less moisture in the air is the primary cause of dry, itchy skin in the winter, but other factors can contribute to your discomfort, including:

  • Less exposure to vitamin D: Between staying indoors and the sun being at a lower angle, it’s typical to get much less natural vitamin D than you would in the summer. Vitamin D is a natural anti-inflammatory and can help relieve dry skin. 
  • Using harsh soaps: To counteract dryness, many people need to switch up their skincare routines in the winter. Using harsh soaps, cleansers, and toners that strip moisture from the skin can increase dryness and irritation. 
  • Taking hot baths and showers: A nice hot bath might be relaxing, but excessively hot water can cause skin damage and dryness. 

How to Treat Dry Skin in Winter 

Woman operating Canopy humidifier

Increase Humidity

When you're indoors, use a humidifier to increase moisture in the air and reduce dryness. A humidifier can help counteract the drying effects of forced hot air and protect your skin barrier from damage. Ideally, your home should be between 30% and 50% humidity for optimal comfort.

Adjust Your Skincare Routine

If you aren’t exercising or doing strenuous activity, consider limiting your showers to every other day and try to keep them short. Paring back to 10 minutes helps keep the hot water from drying out your skin.

Applying a fragrance-free moisturizer immediately after bathing seals moisture into your skin for lasting comfort. Why fragrance-free? Because most scented moisturizers contain drying alcohol. 

In fact, some of your other skincare steps can contribute to winter dry skin. For example, many anti-aging and acne-fighting products contain drying ingredients, so you’ll want to use them less frequently in the winter. Exfoliating can also remove skin moisture and oils, so limit your scrub sessions to once or twice a week. 

Switch Your Laundry Detergent

Use a gentle, fragrance-free laundry detergent to wash your clothing. Much like scented lotions, the fragrance used in laundry products can be irritating, even after the rinse cycle. The chemicals that leave clothes smelling fresh after washing and drying can trigger “micro irritations” on your skin, increasing discomfort and itching. 

Stay Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water every day can help keep your whole body hydrated in the winter. Taking omega-3 or omega-6 supplements can also help the skin retain moisture for better barrier function and less irritation. 

Winter weather doesn’t mean you need to be itchy and miserable all season long. For help bringing more moisture into your home, count on our easy-to-use humidifiers to provide gentle hydration. Keep your bedroom cozy with our original humidifier, or treat the whole house with our Humidifier Plus, designed for spaces up to 1,000 square feet.