Get the Look: January is a difficult month if you have dry skin

Small changes mean skin needn’t suffer a dry January, writes Rachel Marie Walsh
Get the Look: January is a difficult month if you have dry skin

Building Barriers: Save Skin From a Dry January. Image by Kate Somerville.

A dry January can reduce inflammation and even-out your complexion but avoiding alcohol may not make the difference you’d like if your skin is dry year-round. Dryness is one of those skin issues that starts on the outside, with the irritation or depletion of skin’s moisture support system. This can be caused by fragrance and alcohol-heavy skincare, drying cleansers, aging, and certain medical conditions. January can be a troublesome month for this skin type because the humidity is low and the water content of the outermost layer of skin tends to reflect the level of humidity around it.

Winter-Skin Saving

A humidifier for your home is the most obvious way to compensate for winter air. Using fragrance-free laundry detergents can also help. Wearing broad-spectrum sun protection every day is still vital for your skin’s health in wintertime, even on overcast days. Applying cream to damp skin immediately after washing can trap moisture in the epidermis, enhancing the product’s moisturising effects. Hot baths can become a habit this time of year but soaking too long can remove protective oils. Leaving a moisturising shaving cream or foam on the skin for a few minutes before applying the razor can make shaving a gentler experience for the skin. Avoiding scratch loofahs and washcloths makes for gentler washing. Showers or short, colloidal oatmeal-infused baths (US experts, Windsor Dermatology, recommend 10 minutes) can improve your dry skin. In general, lukewarm water is less drying than very hot water.

Great Skincare Buys for Dry Skin

Ingredients that trap moisture on the skin’s surface or emulate the substances that make up the barrier that helps skin retain moisture are your friends. Ceramides are the best — we produce them naturally and applying cosmetic versions both protects us and helps our skin to make more. Humectants — which help attract moisture — and occlusive ingredients that keep water from getting away are all part of a great dry-skin support system. Emollients such as linoleic and lauric acids smooth skin by filling the spaces between skin cells. They are familiar to anyone who has tried a primer and make skin look better instantly.

Indeed Labs 10Balm Soothing Cream, €18.95 at
Indeed Labs 10Balm Soothing Cream, €18.95 at

Indeed Labs 10Balm Soothing Cream, €18.95 at, is very high in emollients and humectants, including honey, Royal Jelly, soybean oil and sunflower seed-wax. It also curbs redness and sensitivity with plant extracts bisabolol, allantoin, Vitamin E, baobab seed oil, and buriti oil.

Neuroskinfeeds MicroMilk, €39 at
Neuroskinfeeds MicroMilk, €39 at

Neuroskinfeeds MicroMilk, €39 at, is new this month. Neuroskinfeeds was founded by leading Spanish counsellor and addiction specialist Tatu Cutillas, who believes in a strong connection between what you put on your skin and your mood. Dry, itch skin is certainly distracting. Micromilk was created for moisture barrier repair, it contains CBD and soothing aloe vera, as well as lots of Inca peanut and sweet almond oils. Micromilk is a nice choice for sporadically dry skin as unlike most barrier repair creams, it is not heavy on greasy occlusives, so doesn’t take long to absorb.

Antioxidants can help skin self-repair a damaged barrier. Vitamins A, B, C and E are all obvious choices, as are green and white tea extracts and the nut oils mentioned above. I am fascinated by balloon vine extract: its powerful anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties can help to manage arthritic swelling, as well as eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis. Research shows that it is helpful for itchy skin due to its cortisone-like action. It is a very common plant, often found as a weed along roads and rivers in Africa, Australia, and North America, and I am surprised that so few beauty brands take advantage of its benefits. 

Kate Somerville, an LA brand that launched on this season, uses quite a lot in... 

Kate Somerville Dry Skin Saver, €47.22 — a rich cream for the face, lips and body. Originally marketed as eczema therapy, the formula also contains lots of petrolatum and antioxidant plant fats. A little goes a long way.

If you are prone to dermatitis around the eyes, you might try Hydrosil Dry Skin Gel with Cardiospermum, €11.25 at, which is also rich in balloon vine, as well as aloe vera and humectant sorbitol. It has a soothing effect no matter where you apply it but dermatitis sufferers with ocular issues have reported particularly good results in this delicate area.

More in this section


The best food, health, entertainment and lifestyle content from the Irish Examiner, direct to your inbox.

Sign up