The Guide to Dry: How to Deal With Dry Skin, Hair, Hands and Lips

BY Lindsay Tigar · November 8, 2018

model touching arm

Even if you like cooler temperatures more than the humid and sticky highs of summer, your skin might not share the same preference. As dermatologist Dr. Janet Prystowsky explains, “Cold weather causes the ambient humidity to drop, which leads to moisture evaporating from our skin into the dry air. Aside from being uncomfortable and itchy, dry skin can leave you susceptible to infection (from scratching). It can also make your complexion look dull and zap your natural glow.”

But that’s not all. Thanks to shifting climate, the ongoing battle against indoor heat and harsh winter winds, this season has a knack for drying out…well, everything. From your hair and skin to your lips and eyes, upping your body’s moisture levels becomes of utmost importance—regardless of your skin or hair type.

Here is a guide to protect, heal and seal in crucial moisture from head to toe all throughout winter.

Dry Hair

Commuting to and from your office is a workout routine in itself, especially if you’re layering on clothes. There’s nothing that feels quite as refreshing as a hot shower when you’re frozen to your bones, but Dr. Prystowsky says those frequent and warm showers can be drying your hair out. If you want the warmth without posing a threat to your locks, she says to rinse off with a shower cap, so your hair isn’t overwashed. Ideally, she recommends using less shampoo or adding a hydrating oil to your hair care routine. “Dry hair can be a precursor to dry scalp, which could leave you susceptible to infection,” she explains.

Try: Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Hair Cap System 


Dry, Flaky Scalp

If you’re frequently washing your hair or have a preexisting skin condition that can be aggravated by winter, like eczema or psoriasis, you might be more prone to dandruff during this chilly time of year. Dr. Prystowsky says a hair product specifically for dry and itchy scalp and a conversation with your dermatologist are your best bet. “Your dermatologist will have solutions that are unique to you, but my advice, if you don’t have oily hair, is to try washing your hair once to twice a week, or with less (or targeted) shampoo,” she says.

Try: Oribe Serene Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

Dry Skin on the Face

If your favorite part of the winter is hitting the slopes, you likely already have a beloved winter sunscreen you lather on before hopping on the chairlift. But if you’re not moisturizing your skin enough or over-exfoliating at night, you run the risk of super dry facial skin. Dr. Prystowsky says it’s also important to cut back on abrasive exfoliators and harsh toners during the winter when your skin could be more easily irritated and suffer from dryness. Instead, she recommends shaking up your usual skin care regimen and switching out your lighter moisturizer with a heavier cream to lock in moisture throughout the day. Not only will you be free from the uncomfortable itch of dry facial skin, but your cheeks will look rejuvenated and fresh—like the snow!—too.

Try: Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream

Dry Lips

Though it’s human instinct to lick your lips when they’re chapped or cold, when you give in to this ritual you’re actually making your condition worse, Dr. Prystowsky says. Wet puckers often don’t stand a chance against freezing temperatures, or when your indoor heat causes your nose to become stuffy, forcing you to breathe through your mouth at night. To help treat dry, chapped lips, Dr. Prystowsky says to invest in an effective lip balm that features botanical oils and emollients and doesn’t have ingredients like “camphor” or “menthol,” both of which offer little moisture.

Try: Avene Cold Cream Lip Balm

Dry Skin on the Body

If you enjoy wintertime baths with a view of the snow trickling outside while sipping on red wine, we say go for it. But make sure you add an extra step to your beauty regimen and moisturize once the tub is drained. As Dr. Prystowsky explains, hot water whisks away your skin’s natural moisture, causing dryness and irritation from your elbows to your knees. “Stick to a gentle cleanser and consider using a body oil or a heavy lotion immediately after your shower,” she recommends.

Try: Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream


Dry Hands

While it’s smart to wash your hands after you retreat to the restroom or when you’re about to eat, the combination of warm water and soap with winter weather can cause your hands to become rough and dry, according to Dr. Prystowsky. In addition to being uncomfortable under your mittens, if your skin cracks, you expose yourself to the many possible infections you can contract because your hands touch nearly everything. “Be sure to use a heavy hand cream or ointment every time you wash your hands to keep your hands soft and hydrated,” she recommends. Even better? Consider using a rich hand cream with UV filters to avoid further damage from the sun.

Try: Phytomer Oleocreme Ultra-Nourishing Hand Cream

Dry Eyes

Ever wonder why offices tend to be overly cold in the summer and steamy in the winter? It might be an age-old question that doesn’t get answered, but Dr. Prystowsky says those powerful space heaters or central systems can cause your eyes to dry out, pronto. One solution according to her is to use a warm-mist humidifier at home as this offers the dual benefit of warmth and hydration. Keeping a bottle of eye drops handy all the time works too.

Try: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Eye Cream 


Lindsay Tigar

Lindsay Tigar is a travel and lifestyle journalist who contributes to a myriad of publications—from Travel + Leisure and Vogue to Glamour and countless others. She's a digital nomad who works from every corner of the globe, scoping ou... Read More >

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