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A Moisturizer Won't Reverse Age You, But It Will Protect You From Dry Skin

Don't believe the junk science.

Welcome to HuffPost Canada’s guide to helping you pick up an easy, everyday ritual that can make your life a bit better, in a small but significant way.

Canadians are stressed out, anxious, and are feeling disconnected from each other. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, we’ll share a tiny tip to help you feel good. We’ve got your back.

Today’s habit: Find a good moisturizer for your face and body.

What it is: There are lots of reasons to hate winter (any parent who has attempted to push a stroller on snowy sidewalks knows what I mean), but for me, the worst part of the cold months is my dry, cracked skin.

Where I live — Toronto — it gets very dry during the winter, and despite using a humidifier in my home, and keeping the heat as low as we can tolerate it, the skin on my hands, legs, and face inevitably crack, and sometimes even bleed.

Unlike my husband, who claims he doesn’t mind his lizard skin, I (and I presume most people) hate the feel of dry skin, which is why I have at least a dozen face and body moisturizers spread out in my home and on my desk at work.

Finding that perfect moisturizer can mean the difference between soft, calm skin and feeling like you have sandpaper all over your body.

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How it can help: Unless you have a major skin condition that must be treated with medication, there’s nothing medically wrong with you if you have dry skin. However, no one wants to spend their day scratching fingers and watching your knuckles bleed.

That’s where a moisturizer can help; they help prevent and treat dry skin by holding water in the outer layer of the skin. A moisturizer can be a lotion, cream, gel, or a serum. And every brand uses different ingredients to try to achieve different effects, whether it be smooth skin, protection from the sun and/or the environment, eczema treatment, acne reduction, and so on.

But before you spend your hard-earned cash on that expensive tub of French cream, you might want to remember that just because it’s expensive and has a few science-y terms on the bottle (what does “supercharged complex” mean?), doesn’t mean it will work better than the $10 drug store cream.

Even though many beauty brands include ingredients like vitamins, fruit oils and extracts, and antioxidants, Harvard Medical School says the amount used in the formulas are either so small that they don’t have that much of an effect, or they degrade when exposed to sunlight.

“The fact is that despite the long lists of obscure ingredients and the pseudoscientific hokum, all moisturizers help with dry skin for a pretty simple reason: they supply a little bit of water to the skin and contain a greasy substance that holds it in,” Harvard Medical School notes on its website.

So, if you bought that bottle of Kylie Skin Face Moisturizer, thinking the kiwi seed oil would help reduce fine lines and wrinkles, think again — the oil sits at the very end of the lotion’s ingredient list, meaning there is very little of it in the product.

The bottom line is that although moisturizers won’t make you look 10 years younger, they’ll relieve dry skin, and that’s all I’m looking for when it comes to choosing one.

How you can start: It may be a bit overwhelming when you see how many moisturizers there are on the market, but the good news is you can’t go wrong with whatever product you choose. It really comes down to personal choice: do you like the smell and the texture? And most importantly, do you like the price?

Try a few samples at your local drug store or department store and pick one that speaks to you and your bank account. My favourite brands that have great moisturizers are Dermalogica, Weleda, Lush, The Ordinary, and Hylamide. (These brands are cruelty free too, which may be important to you when it comes to beauty and skincare.)

If you have very dry and cracked skin, choose a heavier cream. The Mayo Clinic suggests looking for products that contain petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, as they last longer, and “are more effective at reducing water loss from the skin.” A night cream can also help prevent dryness.

If you have oily skin, a lighter, water-based cream would work well. And if you have combination skin, use a medium-weight moisturizer.

Use your moisturizer regularly to prevent dry skin, especially after you wash your hands. And don’t forget to always apply sunscreen after you put on your moisturizer, even during the winter.

How it makes us feel: After scratching my dry skin for minutes at a time, there’s nothing better than putting a soothing moisture on my skin and letting it soak in.

Moisturizers I’m currently using:

And that’s your habit of the day.

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