One of the curses of fall is how it changes your skin. One day you’re just strolling along in your boots and chunky sweater sipping a Pumpkin Spice Latte, and suddenly you realize your skin’s gotten a little flaky. Wait, is that a dry patch on your chin? And why are your elbows so damn rough all of a sudden?
While switching to heavier, more deeply moisturizing products can help, changing out your whole skincare routine can be a little intimidating (especially if you’re acne-prone). And honestly, it may not even give you the results you need.
We talked to skincare experts to learn some simple tricks that’ll sneak extra hydration into our daily lives. To keep your skin soft and flake-free this fall and winter, try adding a few of of these hydration hacks into your routine:
Sleep with a humidifier. “It sounds so simple but this trick will work, for both dry skin and acne-prone skin types,” celebrity esthetician Renee Rouleau suggests. “When we feel our skin getting drier our first idea is to use a heavier, creamier moisturizer,” leading to clogged pores for those with congested skin. “A humidifier will put more moisture into the air, which will regulate your bedroom’s environment. Your skin can grab more hydration without causing you to purchase a new moisturizer.”
Keep your shower temp in check. When it’s cold, you may crave nothing more than a hot shower. But it’s not helping your skin. “Hot water can be very drying and strip the skin of its natural oils,” explains Dr. Schlessinger, board certified dermatologist and RealSelf.com advisor. “The heat from the shower softens the skin’s natural oil barrier, and soap washes it away. Without this barrier, skin easily loses moisture, leading to dryness, itchiness and irritation.” A hot shower can also exacerbate skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema. Dr. Schlessinger’s suggestion: “Always take a lukewarm shower and keep it short (around 10 minutes or less). If you take a bath, set a timer before you get in so you don’t lose track of time.”
Spritz with rosewater. Celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas says she encourages people to always carry a bottle of rosewater spray with them. “Rose is awesome for hydrating skin when mixed with water and feels incredible when you are getting sticky from walking around outside.” We like Jurlique Rosewater Balancing Mist, $35.
Try hydrocortisone. Schlessinger recommends using a hydrocortisone product—something you may not normally think of right away—like FixMySkin Healing Body Balm Unscented with 1% Hydrocortisone to relieve dry, irritated skin. “The 1% hydrocortisone in this medicated balm has chemical properties that go beyond moisturizing to relieve itching and heal skin. It also helps to soothe chapped lips, psoriasis, eczema, insect bites, poison ivy, seborrheic dermatitis and allergic skin reactions to cosmetics and other products.”
Drink more water. “Drinking more water won’t directly affect skin hydration,” Schlessinger reminds us. “But staying hydrated has its benefits.” When your body is dehydrated, it sends water to other organs before your skin. It also pulls moisture from anywhere it can, he adds, starting with the skin. “By drinking more water, you’re ensuring that all your organs have enough water to function properly.” But the water that reaches your face won’t effect the outermost layers, so topical hydration is still a necessity!
Eat fatty foods. Well, ones with good fats like omega-3s. “Green juice and things like avocado, flax and olive oil are popular for hydration and anti-aging,” Vargas notes. And for good reason: the healthy fats help bolster the cell membrane and increase the skin’s ability to hold onto water—keeping it healthier and hydrated from within. Try this Pistachio-Crusted Salmon Recipe for a solid dose of healthy fat.
Balance out the booze. “Alcohol dehydrates the body, causing skin to look red, blotchy and bloated. Drinking alcohol prevents the production of vasopressin, an anti-diuretic hormone that the body uses to absorb water,” says Schlessinger. Your kidneys then work twice as hard to remove excess water, “leaving all of your organs, including your skin, dehydrated.” Drinking in moderation is fine (and even beneficial for your health), but be sure to balance it out with ample H20.
Up your mask game. “For an added boost, apply a few drops of serum to the skin before applying a mask,” Rouleau recommends. Here’s why: “Masks seal in serums so the active ingredients absorb deeper in the skin. Serums have smaller molecules and have a better ability to create change and give better results.” Try her Skin Drink Serum paired with the Pure Radiance Cream Mask. For a quick fix on the go, try a mask like Leaders Daily Wonders Bye-Bye to Dry Hydrating Mask, $4, which packs an entire bottle of serum into one sheet.
Use an in-shower moisturizer. A new crop of products dubbed “in-shower moisturizers” have popped up, just in time for colder weather. “It’s applied as you would a conditioner for your hair. Put it on then rinse it off, and this helps to hydrate all day without greasiness,” explains Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, founder and director of Capital Laser & Skin Care and Clinical Professor of Dermatology at the George Washington Medical Center. “It’s a quick way to moisturize and lock the hydration into the skin.”
Apply body lotion/oil when skin is still wet. If you’re moisturizing post-shower, do it before you dry off completely. “When applied immediately after bathing, the moisturizer product is able to trap some of the water still on your body and use it to hydrate your skin,” Dr. Day explains. Rouleau adds: “If you leave your skin bare for more than one minute, it will start to dehydrate as the dry air attracts moisture out of the skin.” Try a luxurious natural body oil like Skin Owl Body to nourish skin post shower.
Intensify hydration overnight. “Apply foot cream before bedtime and cover feet with snug fitting socks,” recommends Day. “The socks help to ‘lock in’ moisture for extra dry skin relief while you sleep, so that your feet are soft and smooth in the morning!” She recommends AmLactin Foot Cream Therapy, $10.
Give yourself a mini hydration facial. Facial essences are one of the many incredible gifts Korean skincare has given us. Sarah Lee, founder of Glow Recipe, recommends using one to give yourself a big boost of hydration. “Saturate five cotton pads with belif’s Hungarian water essence and leave on skin (forehead, cheeks, chin area) for a few minutes for maximum hydration treatment.”
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