End Dry, Itchy Skin: How to Pick the Right Moisturizer

It snowed 6 inches in Denver and 4 inches in New York City … in October! Mother Nature freak-out or sign of harsh winter weather ahead? It’s not a frivolous question; a season of intense cold means more than inconvenience. It means dry skin — itchy, scratchy, annoying dry skin.

One solution is simple: Moisturize. But with so many moisturizers on the market, how do you know what to use? And can a bottle of goo really solve your scratchy skin? Sort of, but not completely. In fact, the combination of moisturizer and a few lifestyle changes can solve your winter skin woes.

The Basics
“Dry skin is more common in winter because of low air humidity,” says San Diego–based dermatologist Jeff Benabio. “The combination of cold, dry outdoor air and hot, dry indoor air causes significant water evaporation from your skin.”

Turn on the radiator or heater and you’ve got double trouble. Remember how quickly your Christmas tree dries up? Well, that same process is happening to your skin.

“I tell patients to stop showering so much,” says Dr. Robert Beil at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y. “Shower once a day for less than 15 minutes. And use a mild soap.”

Apply moisturizer after the shower. The skin is hydrated, and the cream helps trap moisture in the skin. You can find moisturizers at all price ranges. No matter your preference for brand or scent, look for a few key things. “Oil-free” is a good thing. It means that the product is using non-greasy ingredients to keep your skin hydrated. This is especially important if you are acne-prone. You don’t want to add grease to your already oily skin.

Using a fragrance-free moisturizer is important, especially if you have sensitive skin. Any perfumes or scents can irritate your already sensitive skin and make you feel worse. Otherwise, you don’t want to mix fragrances. If your cologne smells like woodsy amber, don’t mix it with a sweet-scented moisturizer. The result will be one fragrant mess.

Three Picks
Korres Body Butter Yoghurt ($38): I’m not going to tell you that the idea of yogurt-based skin care doesn’t sound, well, odd. But it doesn’t smell like yogurt; it has the mildest scent and feels cool and creamy. Obviously, it contains yogurt, but it also has rich shea butter and red grape polyphenols, which are found in red wine.

Alba Organics Hawaiian Hand and Body Lotion With Cocoa Butter ($8): It’s an organic product (good) and it does not smell like a pina colada. It’s made from all-natural ingredients, including cocoa butter and healing aloe.

Eucerin Extra Protective Moisture Lotion, SPF 30 ($5): “I recommend this one,” says Beil. “It’s the dermatologist’s go-to moisturizer.” The fact that it is relatively pure and made of so few ingredients, it’s useful for so many skin types. It doesn’t have a fragrance. It protects against sun damage. Plus it’s noncomedogenic, which means it won’t clog your pores.

By Aaron Krach for Style + Tech For Men

Aaron Krach, former grooming editor of Cargo magazine, is a writer and editor based in New York City. His work has appeared in InStyle, Out, and TimeOut New York, as well as on Esquire.com. Aaron is a frequent contributor to Style and Tech for Men.



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