Don’t want to spend a lot of time or money on specific new products? Softening your skin could be as easy as changing the temperature of the water you use to wash your face, or varying your morning beauty routine just slightly.

We talked to dermatologists and aestheticians, who shared some inexpensive, over-the-counter products and easy-to-follow tips on how to keep skin supple.

Bathe better

Cool down your shower. The hotter water we use in the winter is one of the most powerful culprits behind dry skin, says Stephen Maberry of Fort Worth, Texas, Dermatology Associates, P.A.

“If you want to clean an oily frying pan, you put it in hot soapy water. That’s what you’re doing to your skin” by taking long, steamy showers, he says.

Steer clear of soaps like Dial, Ivory and Zest. They dry skin. Use a non-soap cleanser, such as Aveeno, Dove or Neutrogena instead. You might even want to follow in your grandmother’s footsteps: Four dermatologists we talked to mentioned Oil of Olay by name.

Two brands, Cetaphil ($4.29-$11.99 at drugstores) and CeraVe ($11.99-$14.99 at drugstores), also won rave reviews from every expert we spoke to. The Cetaphil is particularly gentle and can be used without water. CeraVe works to restore the skin’s natural barrier, which helps stop moisture loss. Both brands contain humectants, which help pull water into and hold in the skin. Plus the cleansers, lotions and creams are safe for both body and face.

Pat skin dry. Rubbing removes more oil and moisture.

Avoid bubble baths, especially for children.

Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize

The body:

The most important factor in how well moisturizer works is how much time elapses between bathing and application, dermatologists say. They recommend smoothing it on still-damp skin within three minutes of getting out of the shower, while skin cells can absorb the most moisture.

Get rid of the scented lotions. They often contain alcohol and binding agents that dry skin, even if they claim to be moisturizing. They can, in effect, make your skin drier than it would be had you put nothing on it.

If you have severely dry skin, look for a moisturizer that contains beeswax, shea butter or glycerin or try Cetaphil Therapeutic Hand Cream, Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream or Eucerin Original Moisturizing Cream – all available at your local drug, grocery and discount retailer.

Use an anti-bacterial gel instead of repeatedly washing hands. It dries hands less than the rubbing that comes with manual washing.

Break out some oil. It can be messy, but plain old baby oil, slicked on in the shower, does wonders for dry skin, says Dr. Doug Farris of Northeast Tarrant (Texas) Dermatology. You can even use small amounts of grapeseed or almond oil, but not olive oil, as an after-bath moisturizer, says Robyn Freeman, an aesthetician at Mylinda Renay Salon Spa and Boutique.

For red or cracked feet and hands, use petroleum jelly before bedtime. Coat hands and feet and cover them with socks, says Maberry says. It also makes a great lip balm.

The face:

Avoid thick creams, which can clog pores on delicate facial skin, and use a lighter moisturizer for the face. It should contain a sunscreen, preferably zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, and be noncomedogenic.

If you use a facial mask, switch to one that doesn’t contain clay, which absorbs oils you need to keep skin soft in the winter. Freeman suggests the Dermalogica Multivitamin Power Recovery Masque, available at salons for $40.

Just for men

To soothe red, chapped cheeks, shave just after showering.

Ditch the aftershave. It contains alcohol, which dries out skin and burns. Use a light sunscreen instead.

Try Eucerin Original Moisturizing Cream. It’s heavy enough to handle very dry skin but absorbs fairly quickly and doesn’t have any smell, Farris says

Ladies, if you live with your significant other, just stock the shower with a non-soap cleanser. “In my experience, men use whatever’s in there,” says Dr. Angela Bowers of Southlake (Texas) Dermatology.

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