How to Prevent Cracked and Dry Skin in the Winter

Lotions, Creams and Soaps for Preventing Dry Skin

Where summer skin protection may involve using a water based moisturizer, winter protection requires a more aggressive approach. The idea here is to deliver plenty of moisture to the skin and include a secondary ingredient that will keep that moisture from evaporating. Moisturizing products for winter use employ two basic types of ingredients: humectants and emollients.

Humectants collect moisture it like microscopic reservoirs for your skin to draw on as it needs it. They can also pull moisture right out of the air. Emollients are oily substances like lanolin that create a barrier to keep moisture from evaporating. Together they're like a control system that attracts and locks moisture on the epidermis. Think of it as the skin's version of a water filled bottle. The humectants snag the water, and the emollients keep the water from going anywhere but into the skin.

Look for these two types of ingredients when you shop for winter skin care products. It's a good idea to get into the habit of perusing ingredient lists. They'll help you understand what you're really buying. Skin care ingredients are typically listed in descending order based on their predominance by weight or volume. That means the first items on the list are the most abundant in the product.

Look for hydrating skin care products for winter use that contain significant concentrations of humectants with ingredient names like:

  • propylene glycol
  • alpha hydroxy acid
  • honey
  • hyaluronic acid
  • glycerin

Check labels for emollient ingredients like:

  • lanolin
  • mineral oil
  • triethylhexanoin
  • beeswax
  • coconut oil
  • shea butter
  • paraffin
  • jojoba seed oil
  • petrolatum
  • olive oil
  • avocado oil
  • squalene

Emollients are typically oil based products. That's a good thing, especially for winter use. If you already have oily or problem skin, you may need to experiment with different products to find one that works for you. Look for non-comedogenic moisturizing ingredients like jojoba seed oil that are less likely to clog pores and cause inflammation and blemishes.