From the summer months when we are outdoors in wind and sun, to wintertime when indoor heating and frigid temperatures result in overly dry air, we’ve all experienced flaky skin and dry patches. Finding the right products to nourish dry skin is key to keeping your outermost layer happy and healthy.
Keep the following points in mind as you consider skin moisturizers:
If you’ve never had severely dry skin in the past and develop it suddenly, talk to your doctor about this. Overly dry skin can signal other health issues such as hormone imbalances or an underactive thyroid gland, which require medical attention.
Many people confuse rosacea, a chronic condition involving facial skin inflammation, which can appear as redness, broken blood vessels, or acne-like skin eruptions, with true acne. Rosacea may look like acne that needs to be dried out with acne products, but a moisturizing rosacea-specialty product is a better option.
If you’re pregnant, avoid moisturizing products that contain vitamin A–derived substances, such as retinol, retinal, or retinoids. These are not safe for use during pregnancy, and prescription vitamin A versions may even cause birth defects.
What they are: Facial moisturizers are designed specifically for use on delicate facial skin. Some may be designed for specific areas of the face, such as around the eyes or mouth.
Why to buy: Facial moisturizers are the right option to properly hydrate facial skin and keep it supple. Hand creams and other body moisturizing products tend to be too heavy; resist the temptation to use these instead of face-specific products.
Things to consider: Pay attention to labels and use only as directed. For example, many products are not designed for use on eyelids or close to the eyes, and will sting if applied to these areas. Pick products to meet your needs. Facial moisturizers range from items to treat very dry faces to light moisturizers for acne-prone skin. Expensive may not be better. Ask your doctor or friends and family members for suggestions.
What they are: Body moisturizers come in lotions and thick creams and tend to be heavier than facial products and lighter than hand and foot moisturizers. They often contain humectants—substances to seal moisture into skin, and come with or without fragrance.
Why to buy: Body moisturizers provide the right weight to keep you feeling soft and velvety all over. Many like to keep a good body moisturizer around so it’s always there to use when needed. Some people use them year round, while others only need them during specific dry seasons.
Things to consider: Fragrances in lotions and creams are the most common culprit for allergic reactions. If you’ve had problems with moisturizers in the past, try a product formulated for sensitive skin or that is fragrance-free.
Moisturizers for Hands & Feet
What they are: Moisturizers for hands and feet tend to be the heaviest, most moisturizing products available. Skin on hands and feet is thicker, tougher, and may be more exposed than other areas; these body parts may need a heartier product.
Why to buy: These products are reasonably priced and can address serious dryness, such as cracked heels and chapped, irritated hands. They provide the deepest moisturizing for the areas that need it.
Things to consider: These products are best for thicker, tougher skin, so avoid using on the face or other sensitive body areas where they may clog pores.
Specialty Moisturizers for Dry Patches
What they are: Specialty moisturizers for dry patches are formulated to address a specific concern, such as dry elbows or knees. These products may contain substances that speed up cell turnover in the skin, so the outer layers of dead skin are shed more quickly. This allows the moisturizer to penetrate to where it is most needed.
Why to buy: If you have a very dry body area, especially elbows, knees, heels, or hands, a specialty product can help get the problem under control.
Things to consider: As with hand and feet moisturizers, these products are formulated for very tough, dry skin. They often do not work well on delicate facial skin.