21 Dry Skin Home Remedies to Add to Your Beauty Routine ASAP
Dry skin won't go away on its own. Luckily, there are home remedies that work—and you're probably stocking some in your home right now.
Why is your skin so dry?
Dry skin happens to the best of us. “There are many reasons why people get dry skin,” says Alexander Dane, DO, of Affiliated Dermatologists & Dermatologic Surgeons, PA, in Morristown, New Jersey. “Some people can inherit conditions genetically where they have a tendency to have dry, cracked skin. Others develop skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis, which aren’t necessarily inherited, but they’re acquired," he says.
Dry skin can affect your appearance and your quality of life, including making it tough to concentrate at work and at home. These home remedies for dry, itchy skin might be just what you need. Of course, Dr. Dane reminds us that sometimes dry skin can be too severe for home remedies to work, and that’s when it’s time to see your dermatologist.
Natural dry skin remedy: Extra virgin olive oil
This pantry staple isn’t just for cooking. When it comes to natural dry skin remedies, Dr. Dane recommends mixing a few drops of extra virgin olive oil with your moisturizer. Alternatively, he says, a thin layer of olive oil applied directly to dry skin can be used as an intensive overnight treatment; simply rinse off in your morning shower. Olive oil contains fatty acids and antioxidants that help soothe and heal dry skin.
Natural dry skin remedy: Humidifier
Dry air can cause dry skin, according to Mayo Clinic. If the air in your home is parched, try using a humidifier to add moisture to the air; it can help prevent an extremely dry face. Portable humidifiers or those that attach to a furnace can both help make your home’s air less dry.
Natural dry skin remedy: Virgin coconut oil
A 2014 study in the International Journal of Dermatology found that virgin coconut oil had positive effects on pediatric patients with atopic dermatitis, a skin disease that can cause dry and scaly skin. After using the virgin coconut oil for eight weeks, participants were less itchy and demonstrated better skin hydration than those who used a mineral oil treatment. (To make your own coconut oil moisturizer, follow this recipe.)
Natural dry skin remedy: Avoid long, hot showers
A long, hot shower can wash away the stress of a busy day. But not so fast, Dr. Dane warns: “This dries out skin and washes away essential oils needed to help retain moisture.” Instead, try a warm shower for a shorter period of time, fewer times a week; it's better for dry skin, he says. (Here's more on why you might be better off showering less frequently.)
Natural dry skin remedy: Milk
The next time you want to take a relaxing bath, add some milk to the tub; it will help relieve dry, itchy skin. “Milk contains lactic acid, which helps to exfoliate dead skin cells. It’s also an anti-inflammatory, so it helps the skin retain moisture,” Dr. Dane says. He recommends using whole fat cow’s milk or goat’s milk. To take a milk bath, simply use lukewarm water and add one to three gallons of milk. Soak in it for 15 minutes and be sure to rinse off afterward. If you don’t want to soak your whole body in milk, Dr. Dane says you can put a washcloth in milk and then place it on the affected area for 10 minutes before rinsing it off.
Natural dry skin remedy: Moisturize immediately after showering
If the skin on your face or body is extremely dry, chances are you’re already slathering on moisturizer as often as possible. Dr. Dane says that when you put that moisturizer on is crucial. He recommends moisturizing right after you towel dry, to best lock in the moisture from your shower or bath. (FYI: This is the difference between dry and dehydrated skin.)
Natural dry skin remedy: Yogurt
Plain yogurt can help moisturize your skin; plus, it's anti-inflammatory, Dr. Dane says. Apply a thin layer to dry patches and rinse it off after 10-15 minutes, he recommends.
Natural dry skin remedy: Oats
When it comes to home remedies for dry, itchy skin, oatmeal has been around a long time. It's not just for breakfast; oats contain specific sugars and fatty acids that lock in moisture and fight the itchiness caused by dry skin. Grind it up and add it to your bath while the water runs, have a 15-minute soak, then towel dry.
Natural dry skin remedy: Dry brushing
A stiff bristle brush on dry winter skin might not sound pleasant, but it's quite effective for minimizing dry skin, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Dry brush before showering—the bristles will feel a bit rough at first—then apply lotion after showering to lock in moisture. (Here's more on how to take care of your skin in Canada.)
Natural dry skin remedy: Avocado
Smash one half on your toast and save the other half for your face: Avocado is loaded with skin-healing vitamins A and E. That's a nutritional duo that moisturizes and protects skin from damaging UV rays. Spread the avocado on your face, massage it in, wait (while you eat your toast, for example), then rinse with warm water. Or try this DIY avocado oil scrub to help soothe dry skin.
Natural dry skin remedy: Sesame oil
Keep a bottle of sesame oil handy. Kerri Axelrod, a certified holistic health coach in Boston, recommends a regular warm-oil massage using sesame oil to keep your skin nourished and hydrated. You can use sesame oil straight from the grocer's shelf.
Replace booze with cool, clear water
A good goal: drink more water. Research in 2015 in Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology found that adding 2 liters of water to your daily diet for a month may improve skin hydration, especially if you typically don't glug enough H20. If you find it challenging to drink enough water, check out these flavoured water recipes that are beyond refreshing.
Natural dry skin remedy: lavender-infused oil and honey
Give your skin some much needed TLC at the end of the day with this combo suggested by Axelrod: Mix a cup of coconut oil, two tablespoons of honey, and a few drops of lavender essential oil—and rub it all over your dry skin. It will lock in moisture and hydrate your dry skin. Also, lavender essential oil has been shown to relax the mind and body, and help with sleep.
(Thinking about using essential oils to fight acne? Read this first.)
Natural dry skin remedy: Vaseline
Dry-skin solutions don't have to be expensive, say experts at Harvard Health: If you have petroleum jelly on hand, you're all set. It can seal moisture into your skin just as efficaciously as more expensive products. After a bath, try rubbing a little bit into your hands and then onto your dry chapped areas.
Natural dry skin remedy: A probiotic before bed
You may know that probiotic bacteria can support a healthy environment in your gut. Now it looks like what's good for your insides could work for your outside too: Research in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology in 2014 suggested that probiotics may be promising for the treatment of atopic dermatitis, but stressed that more research is needed. "Probiotics work best not taken with food so that they don't interfere with your digestive enzymes," says Will Cole, DC, a functional medicine practitioner in Monroeville, PA. (Here's how to choose the right probiotics for you.)
Natural dry skin remedy: Paraffin dip
A dip in a warm paraffin wax bath may be just what your cracked hands and feet need. The wax helps add moisture to condition skin. Not only that, the warmth may help soothe joint pain. If you find paraffin therapy particularly soothing, you can purchase an at-home device.
Natural dry skin remedy: Fragrance-free laundry soap
Your dry skin could be telling you to change your laundry soap and dryer sheets, according to experts at Harvard Health. Dyes and fragrances in these products are known skin irritators.
Natural dry skin remedy: Castor oil
Grandma knew a thing or two about home remedies. Castor oil may not be sexy or trendy, but just like olive oil and coconut oil, it's full of fatty acids. "Castor oil is great to rub into cracked cuticles and dry heels, on to chapped lips, or on any spot that needs extra moisture," says Nadine Artemis, author of Renegade Beauty.
Natural dry skin remedy: Hand cream
If your work bathroom is equipped with air dryers, you might want to stock a tube of this in your desk drawer. Washing your hands regularly, which you should be doing, especially in the height of cold and flu season, can keep you healthy, but it also may dry out hands. After washing and drying (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests drying hands using a clean towel or allowing them to air dry), slather on a moisturizer.
Natural dry skin remedy: Lip balm
The skin on your lips doesn't take up a lot of square footage, but when it becomes dry and cracked, the pain is real. Licking your lips exacerbates dryness. Dentist Aaron Mannella, a doctor of dental medicine with Pediatric Dental Associates of Randolph, NJ, advises his patients to keep a moisturizing lip balm handy and reapply as needed. (Psst: You can make this DIY lip tint with just four ingredients.)
Medically reviewed by Elizabeth Bahar Houshmand, MD.
Next, check out the worst pieces of skin care advice dermatologists have ever heard.