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Spa pros share their strategies for preventing and soothing parched skin.

What are some common causes of dry skin?

Jane Turner, director of spa, Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa in Sonoma, California: Often, people think they have dry skin, when in fact they have dehydrated skin. Dry skin lacks oil, while dehydrated skin lacks water. Conditions such as eczema tend to cause the former, but it also becomes more prevalent as we age and our sebum glands diminish their production. Dehydration, on the other hand, is caused by environmental factors, such as harsh cleaning chemicals, perfumes, cigarette smoke and chlorine. One of the most significant issues is hard water, which comes from calcium and magnesium bicarbonate crystals; these deposits sit on the skin after washing and draw out natural moisture, making it more difficult to absorb topical creams.

Denise Dubois, owner, Complexions Spa for Beauty and Wellness in Saratoga Springs and Albany, New York: Scaling, cracking and itching are often problems during winter because of lower humidity and/or cooler temperatures, but are also common symptoms when the integrity of the skin is compromised due to sunburn, injury or certain skin conditions. Dryness can be caused by hot showers and baths, as well as harsh soaps and cleansers with high pH levels that strip away skin’s natural oils, leaving moisture free to evaporate.

Katia Simonenko, owner and esthetician, Pearl Skin Studio in Las Vegas: I see a lot of clients who over-cleanse their skin, thinking that it’s dirty or oily, which leads to dryness. Other factors include alcohol intake and internal dehydration.

Enrique Ramirez, esthetician and founder, face to face nyc in New York City: The biggest mistake people make is taking hot, steamy showers, which strips away the natural moisture barrier. I’m not telling people not to shower, but to set the dial to lukewarm. Additionally, dry climates and harsh soaps can leave skin itchy, red and flaky, and products containing menthol, eucalyptus or peppermint can be annoyingly drying, as well.

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Kathy Poel, owner and esthetician, Skin Care Plus in Grand Rapids, Michigan: Climate (as well as heat from furnaces and car heaters), cosmetics, hormone fluctuations, not drinking enough water and poor diet can all be to blame. Aging is also a factor, although dry skin can affect people of any age.

Describe your most effective hydrating services.

Ramirez: Our Super O2 Facial (75 min./$180) features the hydrating power of ECHO2 Plus along with quenching vitamins A, E and C for a collagen boost. It begins with a refining scrub and milky cleanser, followed by oxygen-based masks and vigorous facial massage to stimulate circulation and toxin removal. For the body, the Scrub n Glow (100 min./$100) is designed to hydrate and soften with an exfoliating neck-to-toe mask containing grape seed oil, dimethicone and almond butter. We concentrate on the elbows, knees and heels in particular. If they get this once a month during the winter, our clients maintain smooth, velvety skin.

Simonenko: I offer about 30 different treatments (50-80 min./$165-$350), but one trick I like to use for hydration is oils—they are miracle workers for locking in moisture, and in Las Vegas especially this is an absolute must! I also use LED light therapy, lactic acid and enzymes, rich and thick masks, and oxygen, all of which produce visible results that my clients feel and appreciate.

Dubois: The Moisture Drench Facial (60 min./$107) helps replenish, smooth and calm the skin with deeply hydrating botanical serums, gentle exfoliation, and a face and neck massage using a gotu kola healing balm that renews and protects from harsh environmental elements. We call it ‘nature’s cure for thirsty, moisture-deprived skin.’

Poel: I treat dry skin with the Elina Organics Hydrating Facial Treatment (75-90 min./$95). It utilizes a variety of products, tools and techniques, which can include the Botanical Cleanser for dry/ normal skin, Fruit Peel, hydrating mist, azelaic acid, and Amethyst Polish mixed with honey granules
and massaged into the skin using jade or gemstone rollers. I also apply seawater pearl and probiotic masks, among others, followed by nourishing creams for the face, neck and eye areas. To help deliver the products deep into the skin, I love using galvanic penetration and microcurrent. These really help my clients see greater results.

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Turner: For instant, noticeable improvement with no downtime or irritation, we offer the HydraFacial (60-90 min./$225-$299). This treatment removes dead skin cells and extracts impurities while drenching the new skin with cleansing and moisturizing serums. It’s soothing, refreshing and effective.

Hydrating Products

  • Caudalie Grape Water
What are the best ingredients and strategies for keeping skin properly hydrated?

Poel: Hyaluronic acid (HA), vitamin C, dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE), ascorbyl palmitate, shea butter, cocoa and coffee butters, omegas, seabuckthorn oil, calendula oil and natural peptides are all created to be transdermal, meaning they penetrate into the dermis for optimal efficacy. Dry skin can be exacerbated by a lack of sufficient essential fatty acids, so it’s also smart to eat avocados, nuts and seeds. Avoid too much caffeine, alcohol and processed foods. I also recommend drinking lots of water and taking supplements such as probiotics and Elina Organics Skin Balance. As beauty is reflected from within, focus on happiness, joy, gratitude and kindness—and surround yourself with love!

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Simonenko: Growth factors, vitamin C, glycerin, rose oil, and a low concentration of vitamin A are among the best ingredients for skin hydration.

Ramirez: Look for products containing grape seed oil, aloe, glycerin and/or coconut oil. Almost every brand has smartened up and now adds beeswax
to its line of hydrating products—it’s also great for dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis.

Turner: Dehydration can be treated with regular exfoliation and targeted products, such as Kerstin Florian Correcting Hyaluronic Serum. I also advise guests to carry Caudalie Grape Water with them, and spritz often. Other ingredients to look for include vitamin E and resveratrol, which increases the skin’s natural production of HA.

Dubois: Dry skin requires moisturizers containing humectants (glycerin, HA, amino acids), occlusives (cocoa butter, zinc oxide, ceramides) and emollients (shea butter, lauric acid, aloe vera). Incorporating hydrating masks into a skincare routine a few times a week, as well as using HA serums, can make a big difference. I suggest using a humidifier during the colder months when air is dry, and avoiding very hot showers and baths (even though they feel great when temperatures drop!). Believe it or not, adding real ferns to the home can help increase moisture in the air, too.

–by Alexa Joy Sherman

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