Will my dry skin improve in the PNW?
February 26, 2020 9:25 PM   Subscribe

I was born and raised in the NE. My skin is horribly dry and this year after having a kid, it’s an 11 on the dryness scale (our of ten, heh). I’m talking cracked and bleeding with scaly fingertips. (Lotion really doesn’t even put a dent in it.) We are moving to the PNW in March, and I’m excited for lots of reasons. But will my skin improve?

We are in Philadelphia and moving to Bellingham. Our water is extremely hard here, and winters are dry. AFAIK, the water is soft in Bellingham, WA and their winters are wet. I have so much hope! Anyone been in a similar situation?
posted by ancient star to Health & Fitness (19 answers total)
I moved from dry, dry Alberta to British Columbia and, while I still have to moisturize, my skin retains moisture noticeably better. I'm always super dry and ashy when I go back. There's hope!
posted by thebots at 9:38 PM on February 26, 2020

You may be drying out your fingers partly due to baby diapering? More washing, sensitivity to the wipes or cream, etc? Putting a little lanolin nipple cream on your clean damp fingertips might help create a barrier.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 9:45 PM on February 26, 2020

I never thought about this, but yes. My skin is way less dry (though still on the dry side) in BC than it was in Ontario. My hair too. I still use lots of moisturizer, but when I forget it doesn’t hurt when I smile, like it used to.
posted by Valancy Rachel at 10:27 PM on February 26, 2020

It should get better on the humid west coast. I grew up near Vancouver, BC, and when I moved up north I noticed an immediate and drastic drying out of my skin and hair—it’s much less humid and the water is very hard here compared to Vancouver. I go back to Vancouver several times a year and my skin undergoes an immediate transformation for the better when I’m back on the coast.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:38 PM on February 26, 2020

I visit Vancouver about twice a year, and this year in particular, when my skin has been extra dry here on the East Coast, the change for the better after a day or two has been dramatic.
posted by praemunire at 11:15 PM on February 26, 2020

(Also if you're sanitizing your hands a lot for the baby, that will dry them out, too.)
posted by praemunire at 11:16 PM on February 26, 2020

Based on my experience as a previous resident of Washington and a current resident of Southeast Alaska (unofficial motto: "we have the climate that the populated parts of western Washington only think they have") I would predict that you will see some improvement but it won't be a panacea.
posted by Nerd of the North at 12:42 AM on February 27, 2020 [2 favorites]

My skin became A LOT less dry after moving from the US to the UK (where it's sort of permanently damp). The water where I live specifically is soft, but when I first lived here I moved to a hard water area.

To demonstrate the difference, I went to Japan from the UK and my skin went from 3 on the dryness scale to 11 overnight.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 1:14 AM on February 27, 2020

Anecdotally, my skin dried out a lot after moving away from the NW (but to LA and Palm Springs, so to the freaking desert). Like, my nose is messed up now, it's so dry. The humidity was messing with me in so many ways though–it was the primary reason I left (barometric pressure changes, sinus infections, my arthritis).
posted by sweltering at 1:24 AM on February 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

Sent you a mefi mail. It's moist and cool almost all the time in B'ham. Three weeks of sunshine in the summer and we start whining about oppressive sunshine, and that we're drying out. It's really nice.
posted by kestralwing at 3:47 AM on February 27, 2020

Ooooh!! Thank you everyone! I’m very excited now. My hair is pretty dry as well, so I’m looking forward to improvement!

We don’t even use wipes during diaper changes unless it’s a #2 (the AAP recommends this) but I’m washing my hands often!
posted by ancient star at 5:29 AM on February 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

My skin is less dry in Ireland but I also use creams with urea and barrier type creams can prevent moisture from getting in your skin.
posted by catspajammies at 6:35 AM on February 27, 2020

Absolutely. I distinctly remember traveling back to the East Coast from Portland for Christmas and suddenly my hands were so dry!
posted by Automocar at 6:39 AM on February 27, 2020

The water in the PNW is also softer and that makes a huge difference to how dry your skin feels, at least to me.
posted by wwax at 8:04 AM on February 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

PNW person who has lived in dry climates. Yes, your skin will probably improve! Also if you're prone to nosebleeds, you'll probably have less here! Also, re: your hands, have you tried Eucerin in the tub? It looks like Crisco and applied nightly before bed might help.
posted by purple_bird at 9:08 AM on February 27, 2020

I went the other way; as a Oregonian for life I moved to Maine for a year and had the driest skin, itchiest scalp, and sinuses problems to boot.

The whole family had skin problems until we returned to our damp, dim paradise.

BUT my kid still has bouts of dry skin, and his problems tend towards more eczema issues, and they flare up damp or not. Sooo, it depends?
posted by furnace.heart at 2:49 PM on February 27, 2020

When my knuckles were cracked, raw and bleeding and the tips of my fingers were covered in deep splits, I stopped using any liquid soap except for pure glycerine/castille, or use old-fashioned bar soap. It's made a huge difference. I kept a little bottle of soap at work and, surprisingly, alcohol-based sanitizer is better than commercial soap for me, so I have a little bottle in my purse for when I'm out and about.
In the meantime, you may want to try Glaxal Base on your hands at night with cotton gloves until you're healed up. Good luck. I know how painful that can be.
posted by kate4914 at 4:15 PM on February 27, 2020

Heh, I like to joke that we keep our youthful good looks much longer in the PNW. Partly because of the nature of the climate, but also because there's virtually no opportunity to sunbake our skin to leather (unlike Denver, where it's hard NOT to).
But yes, moisturizers are key, and it's oddly dryer in the winter, because we get the 'cold' spells that are dryer than the rainy bits.
posted by dbmcd at 5:18 PM on February 27, 2020

(sigh) I had dewy skin and insta-Botticelli curls in the PNW. Some "DIY humidifier" hacks until moving day.
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:11 PM on February 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

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