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Your skin is your body's first line of defense against the elements. When sun, wind, and cold leave skin dry and itchy, don't hide it under long pants and gloves. Replenish it!

To get the kind of smooth, sleek skin you'll want to show off, learn these eight top causes of, and fixes for, dry skin.

1. Winter Weather

When the temperature drops, the humidity level plunges too. Dry air leaves skin parched. "Once the weather starts to change, I see patients coming in complaining of dry, itchy skin," says Linda Stein Gold, MD, clinical research director for the dermatology department at Detroit's Henry Ford Hospital.

Turning up the thermostat doesn't help, either. Indoor heating strips even more moisture from the air -- and your skin.

Quick Fix: Dial Up the Humidity

Install a humidifier in your home to keep air moist. Set humidity at a constant 45% to 55%, and the temperature at a balmy 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

Before you go outside in wintry weather, create your own moisture barrier. Protect your most sensitive parts -- lips, face, and hands -- with a scarf and gloves.

2. Steamy Showers

Setting the shower to steamy soothes your body, but it won't do your skin any favors. "I know it feels wonderful to stand in a really hot shower... but it can dry out the natural oils in our skin more quickly," Stein Gold says.

Standing under that hot spray long enough to belt out your favorite tune is also a no-no. The longer you linger in the shower, the more you dry out your skin.

Quick Fix: Cleanse Coolly and Quickly

Dial down the shower temperature to lukewarm, and keep showers short. Five minutes is enough to get clean without over-drying. Save the singing for your car.

3. Moisture-Robbing Soaps

Don't put just any bar of soap into your shower dish -- they're not all the same. Wash with a harsh soap and you'll send your skin's natural moisture barrier straight down the drain.

Quick Fix: Go Mild

"We recommend using a mild, fragrance-free soap that moisturizes as it cleanses," Stein Gold says. Bar or liquid doesn't matter, but choose a soap that's specially formulated for dry skin.

How To Clean Dry Skin

From moisturizers to soap, see the best ways to take care of dry skin.
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