The Beauty Cause Behind Itchy Skin

What It’s From
Washing with stripping cleansers, cold weather or a low-fat diet

How It Happens
When the air outside is too cold, it can make your skin feel dry, tight and uncomfortable—the same goes for washing with the wrong type of cleanser. “Women don’t maintain moisture well when it’s cold and dry out. Microscopic openings and tears form and the skin easily becomes irritated,” says says Manhattan Beach, CA, dermatologist Ashley Magovern, MD. Celebrity aesthetician Nerida Joy adds, “Washing with anything with too much detergent or something that is too foaming strips away natural lubrication and makes the skin’s surface dry. When there’s dryness, natural oils can’t escape and the skin can become congested.”

How To Fix It
Avoid overwashing (no more than twice per day), exfoliating too frequently and being too rough on your skin. A lack of fat in the diet, which provides skin with essential fatty acids and helps keep the skin cells lubricated and functioning properly, will dry out skin and can cause it to feel tight and uncomfortable.

Doctor’s Orders
Topical steroid creams and a nonsoap cleanser used twice daily may be recommended, too.

Product Pick
Comforting for skin in need, Clarins Water Comfort One-Step Cleanser with Peach Essential Water cleans without the need for water. Apply the peach-based liquid to your skin with a cotton pad and gently wipe clean. $33, clarins.com

Why PH Matters
The pH level of your skin plays a big role in how skin reacts to certain treatments, products and even the environment around you. “Maintaining an ideal pH balance in the skin is extremely important in maintaining its health,” explains Cecilia Wong, founder of Cecilia Wong Skincare. “When the skin is taken outside of its natural pH levels (4.5 to 5.5), it can’t defend itself against pollution, bacteria and fungus. This opens the door to problems like aging, eczema and acne.” The most common reason for pH level changes are products that teeter too far on the acidic or alkaline scale and a poor diet.

At-Home Remedies

  • To alleviate tightness, Wong says to turn on a humidifier, which will add moisture to the skin.
  • Skip products with alcohol and acids. Instead, apply a thin layer of a light, noncomedogenic, hydrating lotion and a repairing serum.  
  • Make sure your diet includes plenty of healthy essential fatty acids—think salmon, flax seeds, walnuts and canola oil—which may have a positive effect on skin’s lipid content.