Solving the vexing problem of winter dry skin

dry skin facial portland winter

The coldest, darkest season of the year is upon us, and with it can come the cold, high winds. Also along for the winter ride? The uncomfortable onset of seriously dry skin. You know the feeling… Parched, stripped, lacking in moisture, desperately seeking relief!

In the winter time, no question is asked more of me than how to take care of dry skin

It’s a feeling we’re all familiar with. Even if you tend to be more on the oily side, you may experience dryness elsewhere such as your hands or your scalp. Your regular face lotion (moisturizer) isn’t quite doing the trick like it did in the summer. Maybe an hour or two after you apply moisturizer, it feels like you didn’t even put any on. Maybe it hurts to smile or open your mouth due to cracks at the corners of your lips. So, in an effort to rid my clients of their dry skin troubles, I’m here to provide as much education as I can on the subject!

To start to understand what’s going on, we need to address two questions…

  • How do oil and water affect the skin?
  • What causes dry skin in the winter? (Or, really, any time of year?)

Let’s start with the first – the impact of oil and water on your skin. It’s crucial to understand that water alone cannot hydrate the skin. Most skin care products on the market contain water, as it’s the cheapest filler to increase volume. But as we know, water evaporates. In fact, water can sometimes LEACH hydration and nourishment from the skin! As an example, consider people who wash their hands 10+ times a day (i.e. service industry workers, hospital employees, etc.). The skin can be extraordinarily dry in these cases! Water slides onto the skin, then is immediately wiped off and left to air dry. The skin puckers from this effect, thus creating a look of dehydration with fine lines.

What if there was a way to trap water in the skin, so it had a chance to hydrate the skin without evaporating so quickly?

This is where oil comes into play!


Applying oil, in many forms, is the trick to trapping water in the skin. Not only does oil create a physical barrier on the skin to lock in water and other beneficial ingredients, but oil actually nourishes skin tissue to create a more supple layer that functions smoothly. It makes sense when you think about it. A car’s engine cannot run without oil to lube it up. So how is your skin supposed to function correctly if it’s not lubed up on a deeper level? Try using a facial or body oil. I recommend Eminence’s Facial Recovery Oil for the face, and the Apricot Body Oil for the body. Lightly massage the oil into the skin. The warmth of your hands will help the oil to penetrate more deeply – and it’s relaxing to boot!

If you’re an oil-phobe, and don’t like the idea of an oil slick on your skin remember you’ll only need a few drops for the face and maybe an ¼ tsp for the body.

Oil should be massaged in slowly, so it doesn’t sit on top of the skin. This can be done morning or night, but a nighttime application gives oil a chance to rest and work while our body is in repair mode. Do continue to use your regular moisturizers and lotions, just remember to pick a time to swap those out for an oil application. I like to use my moisturizer in the morning and an oil at night. Others will alternate days: one day they use a moisturizer morning and night, and every other night they use an oil. Easy enough.

Now, the second question, and ultimately what will help us understand our dry skin woes.

What causes dry skin in the winter, or anytime? Lots of skin experts will say “dry skin conditions are caused by a lack of moisture in the air”. This can be true, but it is not a hard and fast truth because it doesn’t apply to everyone. Think about the Pacific Northwest. It’s the wettest corner of the country and we’re still dealing with dryness and dehydration. Our skin is drier in the winter because of the drop in temperature. When it’s cold outside, oil moves at a slower speed or even hardens! Coconut oil is the best example of this–when it’s warm, coconut oil turns to liquid. When it’s cold, it hardens. So if our oil production slows down, our skin loses the ability to hold hydration from water. Tissue becomes less lubed up, and starts to dry out.

See why oil is so important to treating your skin in the winter now?

One of the best things you can do for your dry skin is to get a massage. Facial massage, body massage, it’s all incredibly beneficial. In my treatment room, facial massage is the chief focus of facial services. It makes the skin function optimally, decreases the depth of wrinkles and fine lines, and makes your existing skin products work a little harder and longer within the deeper layers. Combined with warm tea to wash the skin (yes, tea instead of water to wash your face!), and a warm bed to create comfort, you can see why facials will greatly benefit your overall health.

Take a stand against dry skin this winter – and really any season – and jump on my schedule.

Written by Amanda Koennecke


I’ve made it my life’s work to bring health and happiness into my clients’ lives by way of skin care solutions. With a pursuant interest in the Ayurvedic health system (dating back to 5000 BC), my treatments always come from a loving, healing place. From skin detoxification, to nourishing facial massage, to extractions, to light therapy for the treatment of age spots, everyone has a chief concern they’d like to address.