Dying of dry skin? Follow these expert tips to rid yourself of this troublesome winter problem

By Kaitlyn Frey
Updated January 31, 2017 03:20 PM
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Credit: Getty Images/Canopy

In the United States alone, nearly 31.6 million people suffer from eczema – which is defined as inflamed, rough blisters on the skin that cause severe itchiness (and anyone can get) – at some point in their lives. And troublesome dry, itchy skin doesn’t discriminate. Kim Kardashian West has publicly documented her struggle with psoriasis (another type of itchy red patches on the skin) and Brad Pitt reportedly borrowed cream from Cate Blanchett for eczema that broke out when the two filmed The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button.

And now as we’re in the heart of winter, this skin problem’s in its prime. “In the winter time there is less water in the air, which makes it easier for skin to lose its moisture,” N.Y.C. celebrity dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman told PeopleStyle. “If you are prone to eczema, you are more likely to see flare ups with the weather change.”

While factors like genetics and allergic histories play a role in who experiences eczema the most, it ultimately comes down to “luck of the draw,” according to N.Y.C. dermatologist Dr. Neil Sadick. And this time of year can be especially triggering for the condition – after all, even those who don’t have it tend to experience drier-than-ever, often super-itchy skin. We got the low down straight from top skincare experts in the field about how to keep your skin hydrated and stay comfortable this season.

1. Avoid Irritating Ingredients

Stay away from products with powerful ingredients like retinoids, alpha hydroxy acids and Vitamin C when you’re having a flare-up, Sadick recommends.

“Avoid harsh soaps with fragrances too,” Engelman adds. “Plus, glycolic acid and salicylic acid dry out the skin and irritate it more.” Store any anti-aging products with those ingredients for the time being, and pull them out in the summer months when your dry skin’s more manageable. Instead, opt for gentle, oil-based products for maximum hydration, minus the irritation.

Buy It! Boscia Tsubaki Beauty Oil, $46; sephora.com, Eucerin Eczema Relief Skin Protectant Creme, $7.50; amazon.com and S.W. Basics Body Scrub, $20.99; target.com

2. Layer Your Products

Engelman likes to apply multiple moisturizers to the body to thoroughly hydrate the skin during the colder months. “Instead of applying one thick, heavy cream, layer products to provide multiple barriers. Start with the lightest product and finish with the thickest,” she said. Engelman says she likes to apply a body oil in the shower, then immediately layer on a rich lotion formula as soon as she gets out. Try out the same regimen for dry skin on the face, too.

3. Rotate Your Lotions

If you’re loyal to one lotion, your skin’s likely to become tolerant to its benefits. “Use one two or three times a week and another two or three times a week,” Sadick said. “Every other day rotation is good.”

Buy It! Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré (24-Hour Miracle Cream), $16; birchbox.com, June Jacobs Rapid Repair Healing Cream, $46.50; amazon.com and Lubriderm Daily Moisture Lotion, $6.49; target.com

4. Carry a Toner in Your Purse

N.Y.C. aesthetician Mzia Shiman, who works with celebrities like Ashley Graham and Bella Hadid, tells all of her clients suffering with eczema to use rose-infused skincare products thanks to its calming benefits. “Get a soft toner with rose and put it in a little spray bottle to carry with you during the day,” she said. “Once you feel dehydrated after the gym or anywhere just spray it on your face.” But check the ingredient list closely: “Make sure it has no alcohol in it!” Shiman warns. “Eczema doesn’t like anything that has alcohol.”

Buy It! Fresh Rose Floral Toner, $40; nordstrom.com, Herbivore Botanicals Coco Rose Body Polish, $36; birchbox.com and Jurlique Rosewater Balancing Mist Intense, $65; sephora.com

5. Take Cooler Showers

“Stop with the hot showers!” Engelman warns. “I know they can be tempting, but hot water can strip the natural oils from your skin, leaving it more dry and vulnerable. Alternating between extreme temperatures puts more stress on the first layer of skin, leaving it more dry.” Steel yourself for a lukewarm shower and keep it short – the payoff for your skin will be worth it.

6. Know When To See a Professional

These tips above work great for milder cases of eczema, but if your skin still feels unbearably itchy, you bleed from scratching or experience large blisters from dryness, it’s best to see a doctor. Sadick says professionals can prescribe steroid creams to alleviate the itch, and Shiman specializes in facials for those suffering from severe eczema.

Have you ever suffered from eczema or extremely dry and itchy skin? What works for you? Share your tips below!