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9 Easy Ways to Refresh Dry, Irritated, or Saggy Skin

Because we should all love the skin we're in!


Spring has arrived and we’re all more than ready for some much-needed sunshine! But while our mind is focused on the warmer days, our body may still be recovering from winter and all of the season’s skin-damaging and aging effects.

That’s why we asked dermatologists in some of the country’s coldest cities which nutrients best repair skin, the affordable ways to find them, and the tricks to boost their benefits — so you can bare some skin with confidence!

Dull complexion? Restore brightening luster with vitamin C

Less time spent in the sun coupled with stagnant layers of dead, dry skin makes the complexion appear lackluster — we’re really missing that dewy glow! Vitamin C to the rescue, says Philadelphia-based dermatologist Rina Allawh, MD. Rich in ascorbic acid, the vitamin is study-proven to encourage cell turnover, brighten skin, and promote collagen production so your complexion looks youthful, renewed, and radiant.

Drugstore star: Lumene Nordic-C Glow Boost Essence ($27.49, CVS) is a vitamin C– infused serum that dermatologists love, thanks to its skin-brightening benefits. Use twice a day to see results within three weeks.

Bonus boost: Pat the serum onto damp skin, says Dr. Allawh. “When skin is moist, it’s more permeable, so nourishing ingredients can get deep down into skin’s layers fast.”

Cracked hands? Repair and hydrate skin with glycerin

Ouch! A combination of winter’s arid air and frequent hand-washing interferes with the skin barrier, leading to dry, cracked hands that hurt, says Dr. Allawh. To remedy, she suggests glycerin. This plant-based humectant not only attracts moisture, it locks it right in to rehydrate skin and mend cracks.

Drugstore star: Glycerin is the second ingredient (after water) in Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream ($3.68, Walmart), a cream that hydrates hands without leaving a greasy residue. Rub a dime-size amount onto hands twice daily for results in one week.

Bonus boost: Before bed, apply the cream, then slip on a pair of cotton gloves or socks, says Dr. Allawh. The fabric holds cream on skin, so hands feel softer and smoother by the time you wake up.

Parched patches? Nix them with oat oil

Rough skin on the knees and elbows can easily become silkysmooth with oat oil, assures New York City dermatologist Michele Green, M.D. Oats’ moisturizing fatty acids and polysaccharides deeply penetrate skin to soften, while its vitamin E repairs damage that makes thinner skin scratchy.

Drugstore star: Dr. Green tells her patients to slather Aveeno Skin Relief Moisturizing Lotion ($8.68, Walmart), which contains oat oil, onto skin twice daily for results in seven days.

Bonus boost: Place a warm, wet washcloth onto patches for 2 minutes before applying lotion. The warmth softens skin so lotion absorbs better.

Itchy eczema? End it with ceramides

Research suggests that people with eczema may have low levels of ceramides, the natural lipids that make up skin’s outer protective layer. That’s why dermatologist Michele Green, MD, tells her patients to use ceramides topically. “They restore skin’s barrier to thwart irritation while helping it retain more water.” In fact, one study reports that those who treated their skin daily with ceramides reduced eczema by 67 percent in four weeks.

Drugstore star: Ceramide-rich CeraVe Healing Ointment ($16.48, Walmart) is a favorite of Dr. Green’s. Simply rub onto eczema patches twice a day.

Bonus boost: Apply to damp skin within 3 minutes of stepping out of the shower. Studies show that opened pores from steam “trap” water in skin for added hydration.

Irritated underarms? Calm them with these oils

Whether from friction against clothing, excess sweating due to heavy sweaters or even shaving underarms, the sensitive skin under the arms can become easily irritated. What can help? Jessie Cheung, MD, a dermatologist in Chicago, suggests a blend of coconut oil and sunflower oil. The antioxidants in coconut oil are study-backed to heal and repair skin while sunflower oil’s linoleic acid reduces redness and inflammation in no time.

Drugstore star: Dermatologist-loved Dove Advanced Care Sensitive Antiperspirant ($7.95, Walmart) contains both oils. Use daily to see results in one week.

Bonus boost: Swipe onto dry underarms at bedtime. Sweat glands are less active when you sleep, so the oils soak in without interference.

Windburn? Reverse it with hyaluronic acid

Whipping winter winds strip the skin of its protective barrier, reducing its ability to strengthen and moisturize the skin. This leads to dryness and inflammation, plus causes blood vessels in the outer layer of skin to dilate, producing redness. The soothing fix? Hyaluronic acid. This acid holds up to 1,000 times its weight in water, so it can rapidly improve skin hydration by drawing water to and locking it into skin, says St. Paul, Minnesota–based dermatologist Tina Shaffer, M.D. Plus, the added moisture fortifies skin’s barrier and calms irritation.

Drugstore star: Dickinson’s Enhanced Witch Hazel Hydrating Toner ($5.73, Walmart) is an alcohol-free toner made with the acid and favored by reviewers and doctors alike for its moisturizing qualities. Simply saturate a cotton pad with the liquid, then gently rub onto skin twice a day to see a difference within two weeks.

Bonus boost: Store in the fridge. The chilled liquid instantly soothes the sting of irritated skin while shrinking blood vessels to reduce redness.

Rosacea? Soothe it with azelaic acid

One of the biggest triggers of that itchy, red flush? Exposing your complexion to the drying effects of cold outdoor temperatures and warm indoor heating. New York City dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD, offers this skin-saving tip: Reach for azelaic acid. “This gentle acid — which is derived from wheat, barley, and rye — is packed with anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce redness and irritation,” says Dr. Jaliman. What’s more, azelaic acid acts like a keratolytic (an agent that removes keratin accumulation within pores) to clear up the raised, acne-like lesions on skin’s surface that often accompany rosacea flare-ups.

Drugstore hero: Dermatologists suggest fending off flares with the skin-calming effects of The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% ($7.90, Sephora). Simply massage the cream onto clean, dry skin twice a day to see results within one week.

Bonus boost: Combine 2 drops of lavender essential oil with a nickel-size amount of the cream before applying to skin. The oil’s phytochemicals linalool and ester linalyl acetate constrict blood vessels after making contact with skin to nix any ruddiness.

Bacne? Banish blemishes with benzoyl peroxide

When excess skin oils (thanks to agerelated hormonal flux) get trapped on skin (due to itchy layers) it leads to bacne. New York City dermatologist Juliya Fisher, MD, advises combatting it the same way you did as a teen: with benzoyl peroxide. “It kills acne-causing bacteria, sloughs off dead, dry skin cells and unclogs pores.”

Drugstore star: Gentle PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash ($15.46, Walmart) targets breakouts but washes away, so the peroxide won’t bleach towels or clothing. Use twice a week for results in two weeks.

Bonus boost: Mix 1 tsp. of charcoal powder with the wash. It acts like a magnet to absorb other pimplecausing dirt and toxins.

Double chin? Firm it with this combo

It’s so frustrating when crepey winterworn skin under the neck visually translates into a double chin! Luckily, Dr. Jaliman says it’s easy to tighten with a mix of retinol and silicone. Retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, boosts collagen production to firm skin. “And silicone forms a ‘scaffold’ on skin’s surface to provide structure and lift while also drawing water into skin so the chin appears supple, taut and slim!”

Drugstore star: L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Anti-Aging Face & Neck Cream Fragrance Free ($11.47, Walmart) has both. Rub a dime-size amount on the neck and chin twice daily for results in three weeks.

Bonus boost: Follow up with a facial massager like Flawless by Finishing Touch Flawless Contour ($19.99, Ulta). The tool’s massage-like vibrations help push the cream deeper into skin’s layers.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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