There are various reasons why our skin can become drier – such as environmental factors, ageing, and certain health conditions. However, the good news is that, in most cases, we can restore moisture to dry skin by taking certain lifestyle measures.
You don’t necessarily need to head to a dermatologist to manage dry skin, and there’s also no need to fork out lots of money on expensive creams. Instead, there are many excellent natural home remedies that are worth a try if your skin feels dry, irritated, or flaky.
With that said, here are eight home remedies that can work wonders on dry skin, leaving you with a complexion that’s soft, smooth, and supple.
1. Aloe vera
Aloe vera’s healing properties are well known, and this exotic houseplant is often used to treat burns and soothe sunburn. But aloe vera is also an excellent home remedy for dry skin, working to reduce redness and irritation caused by dryness and helping prevent outbreaks.
There’s plenty of science to back up the benefits of using aloe vera on dry skin. This study showed that it can relieve dry skin, and further research suggests that it can smooth skin and reduce scarring. Aloe vera also contains vitamins and minerals that are generally good for skin health.
To use aloe vera, extract the gel from a leaf and apply it directly onto your skin. You can store any excess gel in an airtight glass container in the fridge so it doesn’t go to waste. Leave the gel on your skin for half an hour before rinsing off. Alternatively, if you’re applying it to your hands and feet, apply it before bed, wear socks or gloves, and leave it on all night.
However, during the winter months, it’s important to make sure you don’t go outside immediately after applying aloe vera, as the cold air will soon draw the new moisture from your skin.
Oats – particularly taking a bath in them – have been used to protect skin for hundreds of years and can be particularly beneficial for people with eczema.
They contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that soothe irritation, and specific sugars and fatty acids that help to lock in moisture and combat the itchiness caused by dry skin.
You can buy products containing colloidal oatmeal – simply made by grinding oats into a smooth powder – or, if you have a pack of oats at home, you can do it yourself. Just use a food processor to blend the oats into powder, then stir it into a warm bath.
If you don’t fancy soaking in oat powder, you can tie the oats to your taps with a pair of tights and run the water through them!
3. Coconut oil
Many of us have coconut oil in our kitchen cupboards for cooking – but it’s also been used as a moisturiser in African and Indian cultures for hundreds of years.
Coconut oil is a natural hydrating agent that can moisturise and smooth the skin, and because it becomes solid at room temperature, it’s easy to use as a cream.
There’s a lot of evidence that coconut oil is good for dry skin. One study found that it worked as well as petroleum jelly for treating dry skin by significantly increasing the number of fats on the skin’s surface and improving hydration.
Another study found that virgin coconut oil helped treat atopic dermatitis, a skin condition that causes dry and scaly skin.
Coconut oil is gentle enough to use daily, even on the most sensitive parts of your body, like the skin on your face. If you’re applying coconut oil to tougher parts of your body – like hands and feet – it’s best to wear thick socks or non-latex gloves after, to allow the oil to sink in.
Note: If you’re acne-prone, it’s best to avoid applying coconut oil to the face and neck area (or anywhere else you get spots), as it’s comedogenic, meaning it can clog pores.
If you’re unsure how your skin will react, you can do a patch test by adding a small amount to your chin every day for a week.
If you suffer from patches of dry skin, honey is one of the best home remedies around. It’s a natural moisturiser and is a humectant, which means that it helps to retain moisture. The results are softer, brighter skin with a healthy shine.
Plus, honey’s antibacterial properties mean that it’s good at relieving irritation and redness, too, and a scientific review found that it can help many skin conditions – including dermatitis, psoriasis, and dandruff. Manuka honey is also naturally antimicrobial and can help treat wounds and act as a barrier against infection.
Honey can be applied directly to the skin to soften, brighten, and give it a healthy shine. If you’re using honey to treat dry patches, apply small amounts to the affected area, leave it on for 10 minutes, and rinse off.
Alternatively, you can use honey as a base for a DIY face mask. To find out more about making your own honey face masks, have a read of this article by Mind Body Green.
5. Petroleum jelly
Many of us have a jar of Vaseline in our cupboards at home – which is good news because petroleum jelly can help to soothe dry skin, prevent chafing, and improve skin healing.
It’s especially good for mature skin. In fact, one study found that the skin barrier in older adults improved once they started using petroleum jelly.
People have sworn by petroleum jelly as a moisturiser for years, and it’s gentle enough to use all over your body and face, including on your lips and eyelids. Unlike coconut oil, it’s non-comedogenic, which means it won’t clog pores.
Petroleum jelly works by covering the skin in a protective layer that traps moisture underneath, helping to heal dry skin patches. And because it seals moisture into your skin, it works well on skin that’s damp, so it’s best to apply it after a bath or shower. You can rub petroleum jelly into your hands first and then onto the dry area.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive moisturiser that does the job, petroleum jelly is one of the best solutions for many people.
Our skin absorbs avocado oil easily, and its moisturising properties can help leave skin soft, smooth, and glowing. Avocados are known for being high in omega-3 fatty acids, as well as vitamins like A and E, which are good for improving skin and protecting it from UV rays.
There are several ways you can use avocado to moisturise your skin. The first is to make a DIY face mask. Simply smash half an avocado, massage it onto your face, and let it soak in for 10 minutes before rinsing off.
You can also mix the mask with other healing ingredients – like honey or turmeric. To find out how to make different avocado face masks, check out this article by Byrdie.
The other way to benefit from avocado’s moisturising properties is to eat it! Once you’ve applied your avocado face mask, smash the other half, spread it on toast, and eat it while the face mask does its job. This study showed that women who ate an avocado every day saw an improvement in their skin elasticity and firmness.
Alternatively, you can buy some avocado oil and apply it directly to your face. As well as being easily absorbed, avocado oil is rich, nutritious, and can work to smooth skin. One study found that when participants applied a mix of avocado oil, water, and saffron extract to their faces, they saw reduced lines and rejuvenated skin.
We all know that antioxidants are good for our health – especially for boosting the immune system. However, they’re also great for the skin.
When your skin is dry, it’s exposed to elements that harm cells faster than your body can heal them. But foods high in antioxidants can reduce damage from toxins and help the body make more healthy cells.
According to research, some of the foods that contribute to skin health include carrots, blueberries, tomatoes, beans, lentils, and peas. So, if you need another reason to eat plenty of plants, improved skin might be it!
Carrots can be especially beneficial for the skin, as the vitamin A and beta-carotene they contain are very effective for soothing stressed skin. One home remedy involves massaging pure carrot juice onto dry skin and leaving for 20 minutes before rinsing off.
8. Consider how your shower habits could be affecting your skin
When it comes to dry skin, prevention is better than cure – and one way to fend off dry skin is to avoid taking hot baths and showers.
While it can be tempting to take long, hot showers (especially when it’s cold!), hot water and showering too long or frequently can scald the skin, strip it of its natural oils, and cause damage.
Instead, it can help to take a short shower once a day for no longer than 10 minutes. This is not only gentler on your skin but is also better for the planet – and your utility bills!
It’s also worth looking at the soaps and shower gels you wash with. If you use bar soap, be aware that it can often contain ingredients like fragrances and preservatives that can be harsh on the skin. These ingredients can trigger allergic reactions and cause the outer protective layer of skin to become thinner.
Try to buy mild cleansers or body washes that are fragrance-free and kind to the skin. If you’re unsure where to look, it’s worth checking out brands that use natural ingredients, like Aveeno, Neal’s Yard, and Faith In Nature.
If you’ve suffered from dry skin, you’ll know how sore, itchy, and irritating it can be, but protecting your skin is about more than aesthetics and comfort. Skin is the body’s first line of defence against bacteria and viruses, and when that barrier is compromised, we can become ill.
So, even if you don’t have dry skin, it’s a good idea to make moisturising a part of your daily routine. For example, when you step out of the shower, you could cover your body with a natural moisturiser to lock in the hydration, and wear loose-fitting, cotton clothing whenever possible.
As this article shows, taking care of your skin doesn’t need to be expensive – and many of the natural remedies featured are made with ingredients you probably already have at home.
Remember, however, that very dry skin can be a sign of a more serious condition, so if these home remedies don’t help, you might want to see a doctor.
For more skin tips, why not read our article; 10 tips for healthy skin?
Do you suffer from dry skin? Have you tried any of the home remedies featured in this article? Or do you have any of your own tips to share? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!