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Can Your Shower Give You Dry, Itchy Skin?

Dear Beauty Conscious Reader,

Merry Christmas! With the cold weather and snow this time of year, you may be suffering from dry, itchy, winter skin. And, you might think a hot, steamy bath or shower will have a hydrating effect.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Instead of adding moisture and easing the itch, those warm baths and showers just might be a big part of what caused the problem in the first place.

You see, bathing in hot water removes protective oils from your skin. Add high-alkaline soaps into the equation, and you’re literally stripping your skin of its natural oils. And without those protective oils, your skin can’t retain moisture.

Here are some tips to keep your skin soft, moist, and smooth all winter long…

1. Moisturize daily (especially after showering) with creams that contain any of the following ingredients:

  • Ceramides, cholesterol, or linolenic essential fatty acids. These ingredients contain lipids, which help reduce water loss.
  • Hyaluronic acid, sodium PCA, pantenol/B5, or glycerin. These ingredients are humectants, which attract water and help your skin retain moisture.

2. Avoid frequent exfoliation. It’s tempting to want to scrub off all that dry skin, but all it will do is make your skin even dryer. Try limiting your exfoliating treatments to once per week.

3. Stay away from harsh soaps. The more suds your soap makes, the dryer it will probably make your skin. Try using mild or oil-infused soaps to prevent stripping the natural oils from your skin.

4. Get plenty of essential fatty acids. Moisturize from the inside out with the healthy omega-3 oils found in fish, flaxseed, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds. Or, you can use a supplement like Dr. Sears’ Omeganol.

5. Use natural sunscreens. Commercial sunscreens block UV rays, eliminating your body’s ability to make vitamin D. Research indicates that vitamin D is the most potent cancer fighter there is. In fact, a Nebraska University report says that vitamin D has the potential to lower the risk of all cancers in women over 50 by 77%.

And, lots of sunscreen ingredients have dangerous side effects. Some even cause cancer. They have never been safety tested or safety-approved by the FDA. So, use a safe, natural sunscreen like zinc oxide or titanium oxide to protect the delicate skin of your face. And try a natural lip balm with sunscreen to keep your lips from chapping.

And don’t forget: Hot showers dry your skin. So keep the water temp as low as you can during the week and save the steamy indulgence for a weekend treat.

Best Wishes for Health and Beauty,

Tara Smith, ARNP, NP-C