November 20, 2018 at 02:00AM
I’m standing on a crag in Newfoundland, Canada, with the summer sun gleaming, decidedly out of my element, and somehow in tune with the elements themselves all at once. Let me describe the vital forces of life at play: the crisp, chilled air; the water, which the salmon leap from; the fire we sit around at night; and yes, this rocky crag beneath me, and they all feel fierce and powerful in a whole new way. I realize that this kind of harmony and balance is the goal—not something you really get to witness in a bubble of an urban city—and in a moment of clarity, the clouds nearly part for me to realize the true meaning of life…until, all at once, I’m rudely interrupted. Like a harmonic chorus in its own right, my skin erupts with an itch and maddeningly ruins everything. Moment of clarity gone. Enlightenment over forever. All at the hands of dried-out skin.
With a personal vendetta out for a parched complexion, I hit the books to figure out what’s up. Studies show that those who spend more time outdoors have compromised skin barriers, so it’s no wonder my complexion was having a rough time. “Dry weather or climate change can definitely make skin drier,” says Shirley Chi, MD, a California-based dermatologist. “It takes time for skin to return to a balanced state, so every time the weather changes it can disrupt that balance and get dry and flaky.” Bingo.
“It takes time for skin to return to a balanced state, so every time the weather changes it can disrupt that balance and get dry and flaky.” —Shirley Chi, MD
The air in the part of Canada I was in was crisp, but dry. That, compounded with the constant state of being at a high altitude via planes or choppers (streets were sparse in the region, so all travel took place like this), made my complexion particularly parched. And the itch can be even more pronounced and frustrating if you have eczema, an often chronic atopic dermatitis that appears as red, scaly areas over the skin. “Eczema usually worsens in the fall and winter months, when the weather becomes colder and drier,” says Dr. Chi. “The drier the weather, the more eczema can flare, which is why the colder months are worse, when people use their heaters to warm up their houses.”
Used to the humidity of New York City, my skin had its own standing-on-a-mountain moment, if you will, as it tried to figure out how to adapt to my new and different surroundings. Serendipitously, however, I was traveling with the skin-care brand Skinfix—who is literally known for their dry skin and eczema remedies that are plucked straight from nature, concocted without any toxic ingredients and inspired by the country we’re in. “Canadian beauty is about a philosophy—it’s credible, clean, clinically active, and approachable,” says Amy Risely, Skinfix president and CEO. “It’s about creating formulas with multiple natural actives at the level they’re designed to fix skin—it’s about skin wellness backed by science.”
“Maintaining skin wellness during winter is about reaching for richer textured creams and balms that have the right mix of natural actives, emollients, and humectants.” —Amy Risely
And while I might not all be battling the elements on the reg, the dryness that comes from winter alone is enough to make me rethink my moisturizing routine. “Maintaining skin wellness during winter is about reaching for richer textured creams and balms that have the right mix of natural actives, emollients, humectants, and, for extremely dry or irritated skin, occlusives,” says Risely. “Allantoin is found in the comfrey root and helps treat really chapped and cracked skin; almond oil is a moisturizing emollient that nourishes the skin barrier and in Canada is a drug active ingredient to heal itchy skin. We also love to use red seaweed extract, a humectant that is rich in vitamins and minerals and is a known anti-inflammatory and skin hydrator.”
Of course, colloidal oatmeal, which Dr. Chi says “helps to smooth visible blotchiness caused by chapped and cracked skin,” is also a star-player for dry skin. I slather on the Skinfix’s 911 Balm C, packed with a trio of allantoin, colloidal oatmeal, and sweet almond oil and find near instant relief and sustained moisture throughout the rest of my time at high altitudes. This happens because the balm isn’t just packed with nourishing ingredients—it’s also occlusive and seals moisture into the skin so that it can’t leach out over the course of the day.
I plan on taking these moisturizing tips home, but then I wonder what else I should know about caring for delicate skin. “Take a shower once a day, but don’t use water that’s too hot as it can over-dry the skin. Don’t use too much soap on areas of the skin that are already dry, as it can strip your body’s natural oils,” says Dr. Chi. “Apply moisturizer on your body and face immediately after toweling off to trap humidity from the shower onto your skin. Stick with products made for sensitive skin, and a simplistic regimen.” I guess you could say to care for dry skin, it’s really about getting back to basics and being consistent with nature-inspired, science-backed ingredients. At last: Clarity.