Have you noticed your skin becoming dry and cracked lately? You’re not alone, it’s especially bad during the winter months. That itchy feeling during the colder months is so common, it even has a name: winter xerosis. Dr. LaBine has explained why this happens and shares some tips to help stave off winter dryness.

Why is my skin so dry in the winter?

Simply put, dry skin happens when your skin can’t retain enough moisture. This might be due to dehydration, using harsh soaps, laundry detergents, or other variables. 

But the winter months bring a dry skin nightmare: the cold weather. As the temperature drops, the relative humidity drops as well. This means there is less moisture in the air, causing your skin to become drier. 

So stay inside, right? Well, the cold weather affects things there, too. Indoor heating systems do a great job heating but usually make the air inside of your house much drier. You can’t seem to escape this dry air during the winter!

Luckily, there’s a few things you can do. Dr. LaBine has compiled a list of his top tips for dealing with dry skin during a Minnesota winter (even a dermatologist’s skin isn’t immune to some dryness during the winter months)!

It’s not just you!

Winter is tough on skin.

Dr. LaBine’s winter dry skin tips

No 1. Moisturize your entire body daily.

One of the best times is immediately after a bath or shower while your skin is damp. Remember to consider a different moisturizer on your face than on your body.  My favorites for the face include the refine bio repair cream and the skin better trio rebalancing moisture treatment. For the body, I recommend Cetaphil or CeraVe. If your skin is really dry moisturize twice a day.


No 2. No hot showers.

Hot water can cause skin to become very dry. Stick to lukewarm baths and showers during the winter months. Speaking of bathing, be mindful of the soaps you are using. Shampoos and body washes with strong scents or harsh chemicals can also make dry skin worse. Use a mild cleanser like Cetaphil.

Speaking of showers, aim to moisturize your entire body within three minutes of stepping out of the water. This is the window where you have the best chances of locking moisture into the skin. 

No 3. Check the humidity in your home.

The low humidity in the heated indoor air can be incredibly drying on your skin. If your skin is really dry, aim for about 40% relative humidity in your home. If this isn’t attainable, using a portable humidifier in your bedroom while sleeping can help. Just remember, always thoroughly clean your humidifier and use fresh water every time you use the humidifier.

No 4. Use an ointment-based moisturizer on your hands and feet.

The skin on your hands and feet has a much thicker epidermis, or the top of layer of skin, compared to the rest of the body. Naturally, a different type of skin requires a different type of care. For cracked dry hands and feet try an ointment-based moisturizer. Ointment-based moisturizers are the thicker, “greasy-feeling” types that are very efficient at locking in moisture. One of my favorites is Vaniply.   

No 5. Wear rubber gloves when doing chores.

Rinsing dishes and using cleaning agents can make dry skin even worse. I recommend using plain rubber gloves while doing the dishes or cleaning with chemicals. It seems simple, but the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is true with dry skin.

No 6. Stay hydrated.

Drink plenty of water each day. A dehydrated body will have a tougher time repairing dry skin. Many experts point out that there isn’t a lot of evidence that suggests drinking more water is helpful for dry skin. This may be true, but it doesn’t take into account that as many as 50% of people experience some form of dehydration on a weekly basis. Plus, drinking more water is great for your overall health!

No 7. Get a HydraFacial.

A HydraFacial can help restore the skin’s moisture in your face. This is a favorite around the spa this time of year! It’s also helpful for combating skin issues around the holidays (they happen!). HydraFacial allows us to adjust each treatment to your specific needs. So if you’re experiencing dry skin along your mouth and nose, we can select a more hydrating and gentle option to ensure you leave with your skin feeling hydrated.

No 8. Stay positive.

Spring is only 6 months away. embarassed

the doctor is in

Dr. LaBine is a board-certified dermatologist and medical director of Refine Dermatique. He has 20+ years in medical and cosmetic dermatology.