D: Dry Skin
By Elizabeth Flahive
Photo credit: Fabio Pettinari
Four surprising myths about dry skin.
MYTH: The thicker the cream, the better it hydrates.
TRUTH: "Concentrated doesn't necessarily equal optimum hydration," says Annet King, director of training and development for the International Dermal Institute. "An overdose of lipids can actually trap dead cells and leave skin looking duller." King suggests layering serums under creams in order to boost moisture. Facialist Sonia Dakar agrees: "Serums are light, yet have super-concentrated ingredients - ideal for absorption."
MYTH: Oily skin can forgo moisturizer.
TRUTH: If your skin is super-oily, you can get by with a gel-cream or lotion formula. For true combination skin, use different moisturizers for different areas - a light formula for your T-zone and a richer one for cheeks that get dry, patchy spots.
MYTH:Loading up on lip balms prevents chapping.
TRUTH: Only if it's the right balm. Some common ingredients can actually have an adverse effect. Mineral oil (petroleum jelly) creates an artificial film on your lips, signaling your skin to stop producing lipids, while funky flavors, perfumes, and colors can also dry out skin. King suggests seeking natural-oil-infused balms or those with shea and cocoa butter. "To get rid of flaky patches, apply a little facial exfoliant to damp lips (a soft toothbrush also does the trick), scrub gently, then follow with balm," she says.
MYTH: Steamy showers impart moisture to dry skin.
TRUTH:"Even though they feel great on a bone-chilling day, hot showers and baths are extremely drying," says New Jersey dermatologist Dr. Robin Ashinoff. Exposure to hot water with temperatures over 98.6 degrees causes blood-vessel dilation that results in water loss throughout the epidermis. If you crave heat, keep it under five minutes, and stick with a soap-free body wash instead of bar soap or anything highly perfumed. Pat - don't rub - your skin dry, and moisturize while it's still damp to help your cream penetrate.