This article has been written entire by me. If you wish to use any portion of it, please be sure to credit me, Katie Cotton of Cotton Rouge. (and let me know, so I can check it out!)
Got the dry skin blues? I hear ya! My own skin is incredibly dry and also sensitive to both many ingredients in cosmetics and skin care products as well as adverse weather conditions. In other words…. My skin isn’t exactly my friend. Not fun for a makeup artist! But I will say that it has helped me to provide the best to my clients. Before any product (skin care or makeup wise) goes into my kit, it gets tested on my own skin first. If my skin doesn’t like it, it doesn’t go into my kit. So at least I know that my kit is pretty sensitive skin friendly!
Over the years of dealing with my own skin drama, I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks! Since many experience the dry skin blues this time of year, I wanted to share them with you! Remember that flaking or cracking skin is a sign of DAMAGED skin! Its not just that it’s dry, it is actually damaged. You need to repair the skin barrier. So simply smoothing on lotion isn’t going to do the trick, you are only adding some moisture to some dead skin sells that are still sitting there. So here are some tips to fix the damage without seeing a specialist.
1. Drink plenty of water. This is by far my biggest downfall because I really really really don’t like water. I know, it may be weird, but I just don’t like it! So I must force myself to drink it. Often times in winter and cooler months, your body doesn’t sweat as much, therefore you may not “feel” the thirst as your body becomes dehydrated. You also aren’t using a cool drink of water to help cool your body down from summer heat. But your skin, your poor poor skin IS dehydrated as all that moisture and humidity of the summer is not hydrating your skin and therefore you skin really needs you to drink that water! So get to it. (now reminding myself I better go grab a glass!) OH, and the coffee and even tea that you love to drink in the winter for it’s warm comfy-ness… also not your skins friend. Caffeine is a diuretic. I wont go into all the mumbo jumbo of that, but overall it means your kidneys process more of it out that you retain. It’s definitely not a substitute for water (though how I wish it was!) Same thing goes for smoking and alcohol which luckily for me, aren’t my vices.
2. Considering switching out your cleanser to a non foaming one. Cleansers that suds up have loads of detergents in them to make them bubble and later. Detergents dry out your skin. So while you may feel like those bubbles make you nice and clean, they also dry out your skin. This includes shampoos and body washes, though non suds versions of those are slightly harder to come by.
My favorite for face wash is Aveeno Calming Cream cleanser. If you are breakout prone, try the Aveeno Clear Complexion cream cleanser. For body washes and shampoos, read the label and see if you can find sulfate free products.
3. Exfoliate! Perhaps this should have been listed as number 2, but I really feel like the switch to a cream cleanser that I made years ago on the advise of my dermatologist made a ginormous difference. But exfoliating is also key to removing the dead skin cells that have built up. Use a gentle one and don’t go overboard. The Clear Complexion facial cleanser I mentioned above does have tiny granules in it that will help to exfoliate. I like to swap that out with the non exfoliating ones because I feel like if I am always exfoliating, I expose too much new skin. New skin is the most sensitive. So maybe go on an exfoliate every 3 or 4 days. Find the pattern that works best for you and your skin. We are all different.
4. While we are on the subject of washing… watch all that hot water! I know it feels oh so good in the cold months, but the hot water does nothing for you skin. The hotter the water, the more it wicks away the natural oils of your skin which only makes dryness worse. Same thing goes for long showers. Try to keep them short and to the point and warm but not hot and also avoid over doing like multiple showers and face washes in a day.
5. Make sure to moisturize – and continue to read those labels and look for lotions without sulfate in them. This may seem slightly daunting as so many have sulfates in them, but particularly those with sensitive skin should steer clear of sulfates whenever possible. Also avoid those with alcohol in them as they also can dry out the skin. Personally, I skip the lotions all together! I use pure oils you can find at health food stores or specialty online shops. My personal favorite is Evening Primrose Oil (which is fine in a lot of high quality lotions). After washing I simply put a couple drops on clean fingers and smooth it over my skin. Other great oils to use are Jojoba Oil, which I believe is the closest oil to skins natural sebum though don’t quote me on that! If it isn’t the closest to it out of all oils, it’s at least very close! Hazelnut, Avocado, Grapeseed and Olive Oil are also good options. It is also most beneficial to moisturize on freshly clean skin. If your skin is still damp (not wet and dripping, that will only dilute your moisturizer) you will trap some of that moisture from being damp into your skin.
6. Silicones CAN be your friend. They can also be your enemy. Personally, I do love products with silicones. The silicone molecule actually sits on top of the skin, trapping moisture inside. So this is a good thing! However, it can trap dirt and dead skin cells inside as well, which is not a good thing (obviously!) so make sure your skin is clean before applying silicone products and you are good to go! A special note to add is a lot of conditioners have silicones in them as well. Do you get the dreaded bacne (pimples and such on your back or chest)? Make sure that you wash your skin focusing on back and chest AFTER you’ve rinsed the conditioner completely from your hair. I can almost guarantee this will help your blemish problems. Same things goes for your face. Wash your face AFTER rinsing all conditioner from your hair. This will help with any pimples you might get on your forehead and hairline.
7. Now that we’ve chatted about how to get that skin nice and supple from the get go, lets chat about some makeup alternatives to help in the winter months. As mentioned before, a lot of makeup has silicones in them…. So that’s a help. Just as mentioned… make sure they go on clean skin! My 2 absolute favorite traditional foundations (I say traditional because I am using airbrush the majority of the time on set and photo shoots and I wouldn’t want my clients to be thinking… well that’s not what she used on me) is Makeup ForEver’s HD foundation and Face Atelier foundation. Both do have silicones in them and can be quite moisturizing. They also come in a wide color range.
8. Use cream based products when possible. Cream Cheek colors (my personal favorite is the Multiple by Nars. They come in many colors and are just fab. 2nd up would be the convertible cheek colors by Stila. When cheeks are already dry, I find that these just give a little bit more moisture. They also blend beautifully with the above foundations! When applying, rub the color between your fingers (it warms the product and helps it to blend better) and then apply to the apple/ball of your cheek first and then blend up and out with your fingers. Also to note… ring finger is best because it is weakest causing the least amount of pull on your skin.
9. Again with those cream based products… cream eye shadows are great for dry eyelids. I know you don’t think of eyelids as being dry, particularly if you are young, but now that I’ve entered my 30’s I can definitely see that extra dryness there. Another bonus to cream based shadows is they are pretty long wearing. Even in summer months, I often put cream based shadows under shadows to help up the color potency of the dry shadow as well as the long wear. My favorite cream based shadows include Bobbi Brown, Benefit and the MAC paint pots.
10. Last but not least, remember too that dry skin is not necessarily a winter thing. Why does it happen more in winter? For one, the air outside is less humid. But for another… the ways you stay warm (a fireplace, furnace, etc) are adding dry heat to the air which is only furthering your dry skin suffering. I’m not saying just be cold and don’t turn on your furnace! Just be aware of the changes. If you start when winter starts, you’ll have less repairing to do. :D
Well, it was a long winded post, but hopefully these tips will have the dry skin itches gone and you feeling beautiful and radiant!