If you’ve ever had dry skin or a face full of dry patches, you know how insanely frustrating and fickle they can be to treat. Either you slather on the richest, thicket creams and jellies and wake up with a fun sprinkle of blackheads and bumps, or you try to exfoliate the hell out of them (bad idea) and give yourself a raw, burning face. So let’s stop the guessing game, shall we, and instead use products that actually work, so you can wake up with soft, hydrated skin, even in the middle of winter.
Let’s get one thing straight, though: Skin is a complicated beast. Its primary job is to be a protective shield against outside irritants, but every time you skip your moisturizer, or scrub too hard, or get bitch-slapped by the cold, your skin cells lose water, and your skin barrier becomes compromised which can lead to severe irritation, redness, and dryness. So you can’t just slather some lotion on and expect it to fix everything—you need an all-around approach to getting rid of dry patches (provided they aren’t caused by eczema or psoriasis, which are two skin conditions that definitely need a dermatologist’s touch). Keep reading to find out what you can do tonight to wake up with hydrated, glowing skin.
Ignore The Pretty Packaging
Sure, that Scandinavian face cream in the minimalist white box looks awesome on your vanity, but it may be doing absolutely nothing for your dry patches. To make sure you’re getting the max moisturizing benefits, you need to actually read the ingredients label, not just rely on what the front of the bottle says. After washing your face, apply a face serum with hyaluronic acid, like Paula’s Choice Resist Hyaluronic Acid Booster or Skin Inc. Hyaluronic Acid Serum (hyaluronic acid binds moisture to the skin), then slather on a face cream that contains both glycerin, which pulls in water from the atmosphere like a magnet, and ceramides, which are the fats found naturally in your skin that work to reinforce your skin’s natural moisture barrier. Our absolute favorite: SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 (it’s expensive, but it will noticeably reduce dry patches after just one use).
The final—and most important—step to this long regimen is to apply your occlusive moisturizer. An occlusive moisturizer is kind of a misnomer, since it doesn’t actually add any moisture to your skin, it just boosts the absorption of the ingredients beneath it, all while sealing in all of your skin’s moisture. Petroleum jelly is probably the most recognizable occlusive on the market, but if you feel weird about rubbing straight-up Vaseline on your face, try the cult-favorite EltaMD Moisturizer, an occlusive that contains just petrolatum and paraffin, two non-pore-clogging ingredients that lock moisture into your skin for 12 hours.
Stay Away From Foam
If your face wash says anything but “creamy” on it, it’s probably destroying your skin. Foaming face washes—like those marketed toward acne-prone or oily skin—are generally filled with sulfates, a type of detergent that strips your skin of its natural oils and leads to insane dryness and irritation (and, if you have combination skin, these detergents can cause your body to over-produce oil to compensate for the dryness). Stick with a creamy, hydrating cleanser, instead, like Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser, and remove makeup with a gentle cleansing oil, like DHC Deep Cleansing Oil, instead of a harsh, alcohol-filled makeup remover.
Take a Nap in a Rainforest
Or, make a rainforest at home with a humidifier. Yeah, yeah, getting a humidifier is super revolutionary, we know, but there’s a reason why dermatologists swear by them: They replenish the moisture in your skin that’s being sucked away by the winter air and artificial heat in your house. Basically, trying to get rid of dry patches without using a humidifier at night is like sprinkling water on a burning house. Get a warm-mist humidifier, like the Vick’s Warm-Mist Humidifier with Auto Shut-Off, and turn it on as soon as you get home each day.
And there you have it: the not-so-secret system for getting rid of dry patches insanely quickly. Sure, there are a billion hydrating masks and scrubs and miracle products you could try (and subsequently hate) instead, but when it comes to dry skin, you don’t need the frills—you just need good, ol’-fashioned moisture.