"The Skin Coach" column is written by Kimmy Williams, owner of Acqua e Sapone, a skin clinic in San Francisco.
If you are in the Northern hemisphere, you’ve probably read more articles than you can count suggesting tips and products to help combat dry skin. But if you are suffering from dry, flaky, or even painfully chapped skin this season, the solution may be to stop doing something instead of to start doing something to get that smooth, dewy glow back:
Skip the scrubbing: If your skin is flaky, your first instinct might be to scrub the flakes off with a scrubbing cleanser or an exfoliating brush. These methods of mechanical exfoliation may temporarily get rid of unsightly flakes but they will likely return two-fold with an extra helping of irritation and tightness. Mechanical exfoliation is not just ineffective because it does not work past the surface of the skin, it is also abrasive and irritates the outer layers of the skin which is likely to lead to more dryness and flaking.
Don’t buy labels: Most of us purchase our skincare products based on what is written on the label because we trust that the product does what it promises to do. Unfortunately, the marketing of the cosmetics industry is very loosely regulated and skincare products rarely do what they claim to do. Many products marketed for dry, sensitive skin actually contain ingredients that are irritating and stripping. Start getting in the habit of purchasing your skincare products based on the ingredients on the back, not the promises on the front.
Stop skipping the sun protection: Just because it’s gray outside and the cold rain has you spending most of your time indoors doesn’t mean that you should not wear sunscreen. If you have ever gotten a sunburn while skiing, then you know that it doesn’t have to be hot for the sun’s rays to be hitting your face. Apply sunscreen with at least SPF 30 everyday whether you are going outside or not.