Xeroderma is a posh word for dry skin. It comes to mind now that it’s cold outside and warm inside and we face months when these contrasts will play increasing havoc with our skin. The emails are already coming in from members of the Truth In Aging community who are parched and in need of relief. Here is a regimen to make your skin feel so loved it will think its spring.
Start right with a moisturizing cleanser
Dry skin can start with the wrong cleanser. In winter, I find that I reach for a creamy or foaming one. 100% Pure Lavender Honey Cleanser ($18) is designed for dehydrated skin and has a soothing aloe juice base, coconut oil, honey and a host of fruit extracts including strawberry. It foams straight from the pump, with explosive whiff of lavender. Skin feels really clean and super soft after using it. I also really like Living Nature’s Vitalizing Cleanser ($35) leaves my skin clean and hydrated. Manuka honey does double duty as an antibacterial and a moisturizer.
Careful with the toner
Toners can be more about oil control than proper pH balance, more drying than soothing they get relegated to the back of the shelf in winter. One that I always keep on hand is 100% Pure Jasmine Green Tea Tonique ($19). It is suitable for all skin types, but really comes into its own with dry skin. It uses hyaluronic acid as a hydrator and as the “delivery system” (as 100% Pure puts it) for a host of antioxidants. See below for more on hyaluronic acid. With green tea and rose water, it’s like a drink for the skin. Read my full review.
The right kind of exfoliation
Believe it or not, exfoliation can help with dry skin, by which I mean the gentle removal of dry flakey skin (not a vigorous scrub more suited to deslicking oily pores). So whip out your electronic skin brush, Clarisonic or Sirius Sonic ($49), and smooth and prepare the skin for accepting those hydrating moisturizers to come.
This is an ingredient that has been hyped up in the last couple of years as the ultimate in hydration. It can be, but not always. So get to understand sodium hyaluronate and whether it will work for you.
Sodium hyaluronate has a smaller molecular size as HA (making it especially penetrative), and is able to hold more water than any other natural substance—up to 1,000 times its weight in water! Thanks to these to attributes, when applied topically to the skin it can reach deep down into the dermis to combine with, maintain and attract water.
However, not all products touting sodium hyaluronate prove to be all that hydrating. And some people actually find the ingredient drying. Because this active draws on moisture to retain it, there has to be some moisture around. So if you live in a desert, sodium hyaluronate could sap what moisture there is from your skin and leave you feeling more parched than ever.
Having said that, we’ve found some superb products with sodium hyaluronate. Lather's Moisture Magnet ($38 in the shop) is one. Our tester, Gunilla, especially recommends Moisture Magnet when your face is exposed to extremely dehydrating conditions, such as on an airplane. This is a simple formulation of sodium hyaluronate, glycerin and not much else except for vitamin B. Also simple and potent is Your Best Face’s Hydrate B Concentrate ($40 in the shop) is a simple formula that is mostly what it says on the tin. As well as sodium hyaluronate, there are two forms of vitamin B. See our Five Best with Sodium Hyaluronate 2013.
Moisturizing with heavy guns
Dry skins benefit from heading straight for a night cream and using it during the day. I particularly like Skin Nutrition’s Night Cream ($75 in the shop), which gets results on tough wrinkles (as you'll see from these before/after pictures), and the skin plumping and softening Biao Beauty Rejuvenating Night Creme. La Vie Celeste’s Extra Rich Crème ($75 in the shop) is nourishing, anti-sagging and pragmatically formulated for day or night use. Plus there’s always SenZen’s heavy duty Infinity Never Ending Moisturizer ($95).
By the way, if you want your moisturizer to come with an SPF, then consider Suntegrity ($45 in the shop). Most users of this sunscreen find that it happily doubles as their moisturizer (and it has some good antioxidants).
This year, facial oils have really come into their own and they are a fantastic way to enjoy incredibly pure formulas (no water, means no preservatives or strange chemical emulsifiers). Dry skin will lap up a well-balanced facial oil without it feeling greasy or causing breakouts. Mukti Antioxidant Facial Serum ($40) has an ingredients list reads like something from an exotic alchemist cabinet – nothing but essential oils from nuts, fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. And then there's the new facial oil from celebrity make up artist line, RMS Beauty, that is a blast of liquid gold that will put you in mind of a sunny day even in the midst of winter. RMS Beauty Oil ($74) has antioxidant rosehip, turmeric, marigold and burriti.
At least once a week, give your parched epidermis a good long soak in a mask. Living Nature’s Ultra Nourishing Mask ($50 in the shop) is an intensive mask teeming with so many skin beneficial ingredients it’s almost hard to believe that so much good stuff can be packed into just one mask. Living Nature's Ultra Nourishing is designed to restore dry or damaged skin with active manuka honey. This is a 2012 Five Best Face Mask winner. Another hydrating mask is Lather's Moisture Mask with Propolis ($22 in the shop) that got a rave review from Nisha.
This year’s most unctuous body lotion is Prana’s Fluff & Gold Body Whip ($40). Skin feels velvety and lasts all day. It has a fruity scent that I personally like as its tropical and summery. There’s a smattering of gold, but I suspect what really counts is the buffing from butters (mango, apricot, shea and cocoa bean). At the other end of the spectrum is Skin Lasting’s Super Hydrator liquid spray ($28), which is a great exfoliator and leaves the skin hydrated (especially good for dry knees and shins).
If you are suffering from painfully dry, cracked skin, then take a tip from more than one member of the Truth In Aging community and grab a tube of Porters Lotion with witch hazel and something called Greensoap.
I'd love to hear from others about their dry skin solutions.