Flaking body skin can be the result of a number of factors, such as eczema, psoriasis, contact dermatitis, or a fungal infection. But…it can also develop just because your skin is really, really dry, which is often the case in winter. Assuming that’s the situation you’re in, there are several steps you can take to turn scales into smooth, soft skin.
Why is my skin so dry in the winter?
Cold air holds less moisture than warm air. While summer humidity may do a number on your hair, those water vapors also help hydrate your skin. In fact, some research has shown that the skin’s ability to hold onto moisture decreases by more than 25 percent during the winter months.
But it’s not just what’s going on outside. When temperatures drop, the typical response is to crank up the heat, whether it’s inside your house or inside your car. However, artificially heated air is also extremely dry, which saps even more moisture from your skin.
What are the best skincare ingredients to fix dry body skin?
Effectively remedying scaly skin calls for a two-part approach. Obviously one of them is adding moisture. But you also want to prevent the moisture from escaping by strengthening your skin barrier. After all, it won’t do you much good to keep applying moisturizer if you can’t keep the hydration locked in.
Ingredient to add moisture: hyaluronic acid
Hyaluronic acid is a perennial favorite for increasing moisture levels because it’s like a super-absorbent sponge that draws all the water in the surrounding air and sucks it into skin.
Ingredient to trap moisture: squalane
Skin’s moisture barrier is exactly what it sounds like: a wall of defense that bars moisture from escaping the skin. There are lots of things that weaken the moisture barrier (which is made of lipids) and cause it to crack. Harsh winter winds can blow away lipids. Long hot showers can also strip skin of these protective oils. Squalane, which is derived from plants, acts like mortar between the bricks of the moisture barrier, reinforcing it to help prevent transepidermal water loss or TEWL. And squalane doesn’t clog pores in the process, so it’s an ingredient that can benefit all skin types.
Bonus ingredient to make hyaluronic acid and squalane work better: lactic acid
It may seem counterintuitive, when you’re trying to hold onto every last cell and prevent flakes, to exfoliate your skin, but hear us out. Hyaluronic acid and squalane won’t be able to absorb as deeply into the tissue if their path is blocked by a bunch of dead skin cells that are just hanging around. Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), so it dissolves the glue that holds dead cells to the surface of skin, just like any other AHA. What makes lactic special, and ideal for exfoliating dry skin, is that its low molecular weight allows it to penetrate skin slowly. Because of this, lactic acid is much milder than other AHAs, like glycolic acid. Lactic acid has also been shown to stimulate ceramide production. Ceramides are another type of lipid found in the moisture barrier. More ceramides mean more reinforcement.
What’s a good skincare routine to treat scaly, dry body skin?
Use a mild body cleanser and keep your tub (or shower) time brief while avoiding steamy hot water as the converse will accelerate skin dehydration. Two to three times a week, follow with our Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Exfoliating Body Treatment. It’s formulated with the magic trifecta of hyaluronic acid, squalane, and lactic acid. Whether or not you use our Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Exfoliating Body Treatment, always end with a rich body lotion or cream as a final step to lock in moisture.
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