Ingredients that Dry Skin Loves in the Winter

Winter is the time many complain about having dry skin. With the cold wind chill coupled with dry, indoor heating, skin takes a beating. Add on bathing in hard water and skin loses its softness and smooth feel as cracks and flaking emerge. Regular lotions, creams and moisturizers may not be efficient at soothing dry skin because they may lack the ingredients needed to relieve dry, cracked and flaking skin.


The name sounds like some sci-fi alien race but humectants are our friends–really!–they attract moisture to the skin. Types of humectants good for dry skin include glycerin and urea. Glycerin is the most-used humectant and is best used in cleansers made for dry skin like Origins Pure Cream Rinseable Cleanser.


You probably are familiar with this term, as it is used as a buzzword in the advertising of most moisturizing and conditioning products. However, emollients are more than just a skincare industry buzzword. They help to soften and smooth the skin as well as seal in moisture. Fats and butters are the most common emollients found in dry-skin products. Lanolin is the most widely used emollient found in lotions, creams and cleansers. Two products that dry, winter skin love that contain lanolin and other emollients are Eucerin Gentle Hydrating Cleanser and Eucerin Original Moisturizing Creme.

Occlusive Agents

No, these are not secret agents of any government but they do protect dry skin. The main purpose of an occlusive agent is to seal in moisture by creating a barrier where moisture can’t escape the skin. Oils, petrolatum, silicones and waxes are commonly used occlusive agents. Oils and petrolatum (petroleum jelly) can be used by themselves or as an ingredient in moisturizers. Mineral oil has a bad reputation as a skincare ingredient, but it helps seal in moisture effectively.

I’ve found that the best way to use an oil or petroleum jelly is to put it on skin while it’s still wet. Smooth baby oil (contains mineral oil) onto wet skin and pat skin dry to seal in moisture. Another occlusive agent found in many skincare products and makeup is the silicone dimethicone. If you wear makeup, look for a primer or foundation that contains dimethicone, like Avon Anew Skin Transforming Primer, so you’ll have an extra layer of moisture retention.

These three types of ingredients are what dry skin loves and needs. For severe dry skin that flakes, also look for dry-skin products that contain lactic acid, which exfoliates as well as retains moisture. To incorporate moisture retention with anti-aging benefits, products containing hyaluronic acid are good as well. If you are the type who likes to make your own skincare products you can purchase glycerin, carrier oils and hyaluronic acid powder to make your own dry-skin creams, cleansers and lotions.

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