Soothe Dry Skin With These 8 Natural Remedies
By: Mary Squillace
- You can prevent and treat dry skin without chemical-laden products.
- Plant oils, including avocado oil, coconut oil, and argan oil, are all great dry skin remedies.
- Avoiding hot showers, cutting down on soap, and using a humidifier may also help to replenish skin’s moisture in dry months.
- Oatmeal baths help repair the skin’s barrier and fight inflammation, and in studies, colloidal oatmeal has been shown to improve dry, cracked skin in as little as a day.
- Hyaluronic acid, a naturally occurring molecule, can also help to restore skin’s moisture when applied topically or when taken in supplement form.
Ah, the joys of winter. The bitter cold. The short days. The punishing dry air that seems to turn your skin into an itchy, inflamed, reptilian mess. And the latter isn’t in your head—research shows that cold weather affects our skin even on a cellular level. While sub-zero temperatures and the lack of sunlight might be out of your control, your dry skin isn’t.
Fortunately, there are a number of natural dry skin remedies that may already be at your fingertips.
“There is a natural barrier between the skin and your insides. This keeps us from drying up like a leaf in winter—keeps your insides in and the outside out. The part of the skin that we perceive as dry is the outermost layer, or keratin layer,” says Barbara Reed, MD, a Denver-based dermatologist. To keep this outer layer happy you have to keep it moisturized.
With a couple of exceptions (noted below), science has yet to show that the food you eat hydrates your skin from the inside out.
“Most things we eat do not reach that outermost layer in significant amounts,” explains Reed. However, that doesn’t mean that chemical-laden products are your only ticket to relief. Case in point? These natural remedies for dry skin.
8 Natural Dry Skin Remedies
“Most commonly dry skin is an ‘outside job’—that is, it happens because of too much hot water and soap and not enough moisturizer,” Reed says.
In the winter, it’s tempting to stand for ages in a hot shower, soaking up the warmth. While this might feel good, it’s not helping your skin.
“[Hot showers], along with the soap we apply, strips the skin of its natural moisture,” says Reed.
The solution? Use lukewarm water instead of scalding suds, and trim down your shower or bath times to no more than 10 minutes. And while you’re at it, you can cut down on soap, too, which can remove the skin’s protective oils. Look for moisturizing or soap-free cleansers to use in the shower and apply a simple non-fragranced cream or oil after you towel off.
Alaffia Shea Body Wash, $14.99
Shea butter and virgin coconut oil team up to hydrate skin in this no-frills cleanser.
Attitude Natural Body Wash, $10.95
This Environmental Working Group-approved, hypoallergenic formula gives you peace of mind as well as soft, touchable skin.
During colder months, many people are living in an environment with decreased humidity, Reed says. One of the least labor-intensive dry skin remedies? Add humidity to the room using a humidifier. Setting it to about 60 percent should give your skin the dose of moisture it needs. Just be sure to keep your humidifier clean, as it can breed mold easily if neglected. Try this Honeywell Cool Mist humidifier.
When you were a kid, did your mom ever have you soak in a tub of oatmeal to get relief from chicken pox or poison ivy? There’s something to this quaint-sounding balm.
Oats contain anti-inflammatory antioxidants as well as lipids that are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, making it one of the most effective dry skin remedies. A 2015 study found that applying colloidal oatmeal (finely ground whole oat kernels) to dry skin significantly improved skin’s dryness, scaliness, itchiness, and cracking after just one day. And as participants kept applying the oatmeal over the next two weeks, their skin barrier continued to show improvements. Load up the bath with colloidal oatmeal (aka finely ground oat kernels), or apply it directly to skin in lotion form.
For convenience, pure colloidal oatmeal comes in eight pre-measured, single-use packets.
Babo Botanicals harnesses the healing powers of colloidal oatmeal in lotion form. Simply apply it to dry, itchy, chapped, or irritated skin.
Brimming with monounsaturated fat, avocados are a Bulletproof-friendly addition to any plate—and they’re one of the best dry skin remedies, too. Research shows that eating a higher amount of monounsaturated fats, like the ones found in those pale green pitted orbs, may hydrate skin and improve skin elasticity. Plus, they contain skin-protecting lutein and zeaxanthin.
But the avocado’s utility doesn’t end with salads and guacs. Avocado oil becomes an ally to your epidermis when applied topically. It helps skin hold in moisture, and alleviates dry, damaged, and chapped skin. In addition, it may have the power to reduce inflammation and heal wounds.
This moisturizer lets organic virgin avocado oil take the spotlight to treat dry skin.
Designed specially for those with sensitive skin, Pai’s day cream blends avocado oil with nourishing jojoba extracts to hydrate skin.
Ranking high on the list of Bulletproof-approved foods, coconut oil boasts a whole bevy of benefits when consumed. The same nutritional components that give coconut oil its edge also work to hydrate skin. Coconut oil is chock-full of saturated fats, antioxidants, as well as some medium-chain fatty acids that help protect and nourish your skin barrier.
Research looking at the effects of coconut oil on eczema found that virgin coconut oil is better at strengthening the skin barrier and preventing moisture loss than mineral oil. When applied topically, virgin coconut oil doesn’t just help the skin by creating a protective layer, it also penetrates the skin and reduces inflammation.
Similarly, another study found that virgin coconut oil was a safe effective way to treat xerosis (rough, scaly skin caused by a defective skin barrier). It effectively hydrated skin and boosted lipid levels in the skin’s surface.
What you see is what you get: a tub of pure, unadulterated organic coconut oil. Beyond your skin-slathering needs, you can also apply it as a hair mask or use it to shave.
Shea Moisture Head-to-Toe Nourishing Hydration 100% Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, $9.19 Don’t be fooled by the meager price tag: This pure coconut oil packs all the benefits you’ll get in more expensive products.
Hyaluronic acid—a budding star in the skin-care world—is a naturally-occurring sugar molecule. It lubricates your joints and keeps skin looking plump by helping your skin retain moisture. Research backs its ability to quench parched skin when applied topically. You can also ingest it to reap its moisturizing benefits. One study found that taking daily hyaluronic acid supplements for effectively alleviated dry skin.
Pure Encapsulations Hyaluronic Acid Supplements, $36.10 for 60 capsules
Each of these vegetarian-friendly pills (some HA is derived from animals) pack 70 milligrams of plant-derived hyaluronic acid.
Hyaluronic acid gets a boost from other natural nourishers, including marula oil and rose geranium oil, in this daily moisturizer.
Argan oil might be one of the most versatile oils on the planet. Derived from the humble argan seed, the oil possesses a number of skin- and hair-boosting benefits, but chief among them is its ability to hydrate dry skin. It packs a moisturizing double-whammy—vitamin E and fatty acids—to send dry skin packing.
This unpressed, undiluted argan oil is as pure as it gets.
A straight-up argan oil, conveniently packaged in a spray bottle so you can easily apply it to your hair, face, or skin.
Read next: Top Anti-Aging Biohacks for Better Skin
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