As the seasons change, you may also notice a change in your skin. Shifting from the sunny warmth of summer to the dryness of autumn can be a shock to even the healthiest skin. Suddenly, skin is faced with temperamental weather conditions like rain, wind, dry air, cold temperatures, and indoor heating. It is possible, however, to avoid dry skin as the seasons shift.

Wondering how to prevent dry skin as the cooler months set in? The answer is simple with these handy tips.

Understanding Seasonal Dry Skin

There is a misconception that oily complexions can avoid dry skin naturally given that they produce more sebum, the waxy substance produced by glands in your skin. Though dry and sensitive skin types are biologically more prone to experiencing seasonal dryness, the weather is a large factor in skin moisture levels regardless of skin type.

Mayo Clinic states that dry skin often has an environmental cause. Living year-round in dry, cold, and low-humidity climates is a risk factor for dry skin. Seasonal exposure to these conditions plays a role, as well. During the fall and winter, when the air is cool and dry in most of North America, skin moisture levels may plummet.

Dry skin in cooler months is also exacerbated by frequent use of indoor heating, wood-burning stoves, and fireplaces. Taking long, hot showers—a common comfort in the frigid months—can also make seasonal dry skin worse. Frequent hand washing during cold and flu season can also result in dry, flaky, and cracked hands.

So, as temperatures drop, it may be helpful to know exactly how to prevent dry skin. Preparing before the seasons change increases your chances of avoiding dry skin naturally.

How to Prevent Dry Skin

Dry skin during cool seasons is not only uncomfortable, but it also increases skin's vulnerability to environmental stressors. According to Harvard Health Publishing, scratching dry, itchy skin can disrupt the skin barrier even more, resulting in compromised skin. This would allow for the loss of crucial moisture in skin as well as increased exposure to allergens and irritants. Severely dry skin can lead to serious skin conditions like eczema, contact dermatitis, and psoriasis.

The key is to retain as much moisture as possible. Implement these tips to avoid dry skin naturally and gently.

Change Your Shower Routine

You would think that water would increase skin hydration, but long showers and baths do the opposite. Organizations like the American Academy of Dermatology confirm this. To retain moisture, keep showers to a maximum of 10 minutes long. Stick to warm—not hot—water and always follow up with a moisturizer.

Trap Moisture With a Cream

Round out your skin care routine with a moisturizer that works well for you. The goal is to lock in moisture and create a protective barrier around the skin. Look for a facial moisturizer and body lotion that contains the following ingredients:

  • Hyaluronic acid

  • Glycerin

  • Squalane

  • Ceramides

  • Dimethicone

These ingredients form a seal on the outermost layer of skin, making it difficult for moisture to escape and for invaders to enter the skin. Apply as needed and after bathing, ideally while your skin is still slightly damp.

Use Gentle, Additive-Free Products

Skin reacts differently to certain ingredients. During cooler months, it's even more important to mind those ingredients.

Mayo Clinic recommends using gentle cleansers and washes with added moisturizers and avoiding harsh, drying detergents and soaps. If possible, avoid alcohols and fragrances to prevent dry skin. The American Academy of Dermatology also recommends avoiding fragrance and alcohol as well as retinoids and alpha hydroxy acids to relieve dry skin.

Use a Humidifier

These machines will introduce some much-needed moisture back into the air, which can go a long way for your skin. It is tempting to cozy up to the fireplace while running the heater, but this will only dry out the air (and your skin) further. When the humidity levels start to drop, it may be time to pick up a humidifier.

Don't Forget Your Lips and Hands

Dry, flaky hands and cracked lips are uncomfortable symptoms that many people experience in the cooler months. Try a high-quality had creme to relieve the flaking and cracking on your hands and an SPF lip balm to offer both moisture and protection. You might also try wearing gloves and switching to a hydrating hand sanitizer.

Extra Help

If you think you need more than just a change in your habits and skin products, consider Healthline's additional tips to keep skin hydrated in the fall and winter:

  • Experiment with alternative natural emollients, like coconut oil

  • Take oatmeal baths to reduce inflammation

  • Consume a diet rich in antioxidants and omega-3s

  • Avoid irritating clothing like wool fabrics

  • Avoid chlorinated or chemically treated water

Knowing how to prevent dry skin may make the cold months a little more bearable. So, as the frigid winter temps take the place of cool autumn days, remember these tips to send dryness packing.

Author

  • Lacey is a Southern California-based freelance writer who combines her passions—fitness, health, and a vegan lifestyle—with her work to help readers feel and be their best. Her work has been featured in Healthline, Livestrong, Verywell Fit, Eat This Not That, KinderBeauty, and more.