From Ragged Cuticles to Elephant Elbows, Here's the Best Way to Moisturize Everything This Winter

Alternating between the cold weather outside and the harsh heating inside can do a number on your skin, but we’ve got you covered. Here are the best remedies for every winter skin ailment, from an itchy scalp to scaly heels.

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dry scalp

If Your Scalp Itches
Oh, the seasonal scalp slough. Usually if your scalp is dry, it’s also itchy—and if it’s itchy, there are probably flakes. For itching, you’ll need an antiseptic treatment (like tea tree oil), and for flakes, you’ll want to gently exfoliate away any dead skin cells and product buildup (we like Briogeo's detoxifying shampoo that uses charcoal and coconut oil to do so).

If Your Face Feels Tight 
Take a look at your products. You might need to swap from, say, a foamy gel cleanser to a creamy one. Or from a lightweight lotion to a richer cream or oil. On that note, take a cue from our friends in Korea and make sure to apply everything within three seconds of washing your face (while it’s still wet) to ensure that you lock in maximum moisture.

If Your Lips Are Chapped
First, you need to gently buff away any dead skin (either using a scrub or a warm washcloth). Immediately follow with a liberal layer of lip balm. Ideally, you want something that’s thick and has emollients like beeswax or lanolin in the formula.

dry hands and elbows

If Your Hands and Elbows Are Rough
Skin on these areas is thicker and has fewer sebaceous glands. Translation: It’s more prone to dryness. To add back moisture and keep it there, try Epionce medical barrier cream (which, as its name implies, creates a physical barrier between your skin and the environment and is much more effective than a conventional lotion).

If Your Cuticles Are Dry
First, check your polish remover. If it has acetone in it, you might want to switch to a formula that's less drying. Next, soak your nails in a small bowl of warm olive oil for five to ten minutes every few days. Olive oil is rich in vitamin E, which is easily absorbed into your skin and nails (and can actually help them grow). 

dry legs

If Your Legs Are Scaly
We know it’s cruel to deny the right to a warm (OK, steaming hot) shower in the dead of winter, but for the sake of your skin, maybe reduce the temperature and amount of time you spend in there. Also, consider using a body oil. Whereas lotions tend to be higher in water content and fillers, oils contain a higher concentration of active ingredients. Plus, they absorb better into the skin.

If Your Heels Are Cracked
The tricky thing about treating calloused heels is that you need to get rid of those top layers of dead skin without pulling too hard (which can make any existing cracks worse). We swear by Baby Foot exfoliating treatment because it uses fruit acids to get the job done without any buffing involved. After the shedding ends, slather on a thick ointment like Aquaphor each night and slip on your coziest pair of socks to seal in moisture.

Jenny Jin Headshot Vertical 2023

Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...