From your scalp all the way to your toes, your skin is the first-line-of-defense that plays a fundamental role in your overall well-being. And this time of year— when the weather chills, the air dries, and forced heating increases in many parts of the country — sufficient and regular hydration is especially important for keeping you and your skin healthy.
“Your body is roughly 60 percent water, and our systems need to be hydrated to function properly,” says Elle Speed, an elite esthetician and CONNECT-certified Hydrafacialist at LifeSpa in Fort Washington, Pa. “This is especially true for the skin as it is your body’s largest organ. Good skin hydration helps support the elimination of toxins, maintain proper elasticity and tone in the joints and muscles, and regulate your body’s temperature through perspiration.”
Hydrated skin also helps keep skin sensitivities and inflammation at bay. Overly dry skin leads to dehydration, which results in reduced sebum production and causes the skin to become more reactive to its environment. “The epidermal barrier is weakened and can’t function properly as a shield to the outside world,” explains Speed. “That’s why overly dry skin can cause eczema, itchiness, irritation, and skin infections.”
Joee Nelson, a master esthetician at LifeSpa in Eden Prairie, Minn., concurs: “When the skin is hydrated, it can better combat these skin-surface issues and be more protected from free radicals and environmental damage. Hydration also just gives the skin a healthier appearance.”
Nelson and Speed offer tips for how to keep your skin hydrated so it can function and look its best.
Because your facial skin is constantly exposed, it’s prone to extra dryness, which is why Nelson advises moisturizing your face twice daily. “Moisturizing protects the skin from irritants that can be uncomfortable. It also helps keep the skin looking healthy and youthful,” she says. “Dry and dehydrated skin can often look dull and wrinkly.”
There are certainly more moisturizers on the market than there are skin types, so finding one that works and feels best for you can require some trial and error. Nelson recommends selecting a lighter moisturizer for daytime, and a thicker cream for nighttime; this allows it to absorb into the skin while you sleep.
“Nighttime is when skin regeneration happens and skin permeability is at its peak, so active substances can be absorbed deeper by the skin,” Speed adds.
Moisturizers that feature snow mushroom can be a great option, says Speed. Among its many functions, this ingredient can nourish overly dry skin and attract and hold moisture. Look for products that list snow mushroom or its scientific name, Tremella fuciform, on the list of ingredients.
She also suggests looking for products with jojoba oil, shea butter, lactic acid, and hyaluronic acid. “Along with trying products containing these deeply moisturizing ingredients, do your best to also avoid harsh soaps and cleansers that contain strong fragrances or artificial chemicals,” she advises.
For an extra dose of moisture, Nelson suggests using a serum with hyaluronic acid twice daily, applying it before your moisturizer. “Hyaluronic acid is found naturally in our bodies and its main purpose is to retain water to keep tissues lubricated and moist,” Nelson says. “Thanks to science, this ingredient is made for use in skincare products to provide the same benefits.” (Her personal favorite is the Strawberry Rhubarb Hyaluronic Serum from Éminence.)
If you could use additional guidance for your skin, Nelson and Speed suggest scheduling a consultation with an esthetician (this is complimentary at the LifeSpa for Life Time members). “We can determine your skin type and the best moisturizer and skin-care routine for its needs,” says Speed.
Follow With the Full Body
While the skin on the rest of your body may be less frequently exposed, don’t neglect it — even in the winter months when more layers cover us up. “Everyone ought to practice skincare for their entire body daily for optimal skin health,” Speed says.
From the neck down, Speed recommends using a thicker body moisturizer that contains hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin, dimethicone, and ceramides. (For ingredients to avoid, check out “How the Ingredients in Personal-Care Products Can Affect Your Health.”)
Apply the moisturizer right out of the shower or bath when your skin is still damp, as the moisture will help the lotion absorb better. And while you’re at it, be mindful of your hot-water usage, as very hot temperatures can break down your skin’s moisture barrier. (Hot water can be used so long as it’s not scalding and you keep your showers to 10 minutes or less.)
You can also use a balm, especially on drier body parts such as the elbows and feet. The Antara CBD Renew Balm, which includes coconut oil for nourishment, is a favorite among LifeSpa estheticians.
For hands and cuticles, which often suffer additional dryness due to environmental exposure and washing, Speed suggests applying hand cream and a nail-cuticle oil multiple times throughout the day. “Rosehip or vitamin E oils also work for rough cuticles,” Speed says. “Dab a little on the cuticle and massage into your nail beds.”
Support With Services
In addition to your daily measures at home, hydrating spa services can do wonders for skin health. Both Speed and Nelson are top Hydrafacial estheticians in their regions and sing the praises for this skincare treatment, which is a fan favorite.
“A Hydrafacial helps overall skin concerns. It cleanses, exfoliates, and extracts while bathing the skin with wonderful ingredients that help keep you well moisturized and hydrated for weeks,” Nelson explains.
Hydrafacials can also be customized with ingredient boosters, such the new JLo Beauty Booster®, which includes a variety of nutrients aimed to tighten, brighten, and hydrate the skin. A preferred booster of Speed’s is the Hydrafacial Neck and Décolleté booster. “This product is designed to revitalize the neckline and upper chest to achieve smoother and well-hydrated skin. That hydration is key for plumping the skin, which reduces the visibility of wrinkles.”
To reap the ongoing benefits of a Hydrafacial, Nelson says its best to get this service every four weeks. (LifeSpa offers specialty packages to aide the cost of this recommended regimen.)
Go From the Inside-Out
Keeping the skin supple isn’t just an outside job — it also needs to happen from the inside with daily water intake. “For the water to impact your skin, aim to drink half of your body weight in ounces every day,” Nelson says. “And for every cup of caffeine you drink, add an extra glass of water.”
Beyond getting plenty of water, you can also nourish your skin with the food you eat. Focusing on getting plenty of colorful vegetables and fruits, which are loaded with antioxidant phytochemicals, is a great place to start. (For more nutrition tips, see “What to Eat for Healthy Skin.”)