It's one of life's ironies that the shiny, oily skin you battled in your youth tends to get dry and flaky as you sail toward midlife. Some drying is a natural consequence of agingéafter all, the hormones responsible for seeing you through puberty (and supplying you with teenage acne) thankfully have died down. And dry skin isn't only a facial problem-rough, flaky skin can appear anywhere on our bodies. Often our habits and lifestyle worsen the problem. Here's how to combat it:

  • Don't be a bathing beauty. According to the Mayo Clinic, the longer you lie in a hot bath or stand under a steamy shower, the more oils are lost from your skin. Try to be in and out in less than 15 minutes, and use warm, not hot, water.
  • Choose facial soap carefully. Skip the harsh soap you use on the rest of your body. Pick a soap especially formulated for facial skin, such as a cleansing cream or gel. If your skin feels tight after using a cleanser, find another one.
  • Apply a moisturizer. Your skin emits water, causing dryness, but moisturizers seal it in. Look for a thicker moisturizer if your problem is severe, or choose makeup that contains a moisturizer and wear it over your regular facial moisturizer. You can even apply a little oil to your skin if you don't have a problem with acne. The best time to moisturize? Right after you wash your face or step out of the shower. Pat or blot your skin dry-harsh rubbing will remove too much moisture-and apply your moisturizer all over to seal water inside the surface cells of your skin.
  • Humidify. If your home is full of hot, dry air-more common in the winter months when heating systems go full blast-your skin may be affected. You can attach a humidifier directly to your furnace or buy a portable home humidifier to keep circulating air moist.
  • Consider your clothing. Look for fibers that allow your skin to breathe, such as cotton or silk. Wool may be a great look, but it can be irritating. Try to use dye-free or perfume-free detergent when washing your clothes, as typical commercial detergents may aggravate skin problems.
  • Medicate. If itchy, dry skin is driving you mad, try a hydrocortisone cream or ointment containing at least 1 percent hydrocortisone, which can be found over the counter. For more serious issues such as rashes or scaly patches that are growing, or if your home remedies don't take care of the problem, talk to a dermatologist.