How to Keep Dry Skin Soft, Supple and Young

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Life is harsh on your skin. With free radicals from pollution, cigarette smoke and pesticides on foods causing skin to lose collagen and looked aged, and with heat and dry climates robbing skin of moisture, it may seem like your skin is constantly under attack. However, dry skin doesn't have to be a way of life. You can win the skin care battle by making improvements to what you put on -- and in -- your body. Create your own fountain of youth with a healthy skin care regimen that combats dryness for softer, suppler and younger-looking skin.

Turn down the temperature -- and the duration -- of your shower or bath. While a long hot bath feels great at the end of the day, it's not doing any favors for your skin. Hot water and prolonged time in the shower reduces your skin's natural oils. Try showering or bathing in lukewarm water for no more than 15 minutes.

Think “gentle” when it's time to clean up and dry off. Pair a mild cleanser designed for dry skin with a soft body puff for best results. If you need a deodorant soap to prevent perspiration, use it under your arms but not as a full body wash. Always pat -- don't rub -- to dry.

Lock in moisture after you pat dry by applying a moisturizing cream. The ingredients -- not the brand name or price -- are what matter most for soft skin. Choose a moisturizer containing lactic acid or urea. Other ingredients for dry skin include hyluronic acid, lanolin, mineral oil and petrolatum. For super dry skin, you can also use oils.

Skip exfoliating products, which can exacerbate dry skin and instead opt for a creamy facial cleanser or a DIY facial mask. Making a strawberry mask is as easy as making a smoothie. Blend 1 cup of strawberries with 1 cup of vanilla or plain yogurt and 1 1/2 tablespoons of honey. Eat some and apply the rest to your face. Wait 20 minutes and then rinse it off. If you're allergic to strawberries, make the mask with pumpkin.

Eat a diet rich in antioxidants to fight those damaging free radicals. Snack on kiwis, strawberries, oranges and grapefruit for a boost of vitamin C. Drizzle olive oil on your bread or on salad for its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties for softer skin. To keep skin looking young, try out some new pumpkin recipes. Pumpkin, which has vitamins A, C and E, helps you remain wrinkle-free thanks to the carotenoids.

Keep your skin hydrated. Drink plenty of liquids and use a humidifier whenever you use a heater.