Dry skin is not only uncomfortable and unsightly, but also leads to wrinkles and premature aging. Chemicals, wind and harsh soaps strip your skin of its natural oils and leave it feeling irritated. Cracks in dry skin allow skin infections to develop. If you keep your skin hydrated, you protect it from damage and slow the signs of aging. Diet, natural moisturizers and a simple skincare routine help replenish lost moisture and prevent dryness.

Eat foods rich in amino acids. Amino acids help build and maintain collagen and elastin in the skin. These bind with water to keep your skin hydrated. Eat foods rich in amino acids, like walnuts, olive oil, salmon and flaxseed oil, between three and five times per week.

Apply a moisturizer that contains three key ingredients: stearic acid, cholesterol and emollient ceramides. These ingredients are found naturally in the skin and combine to soften skin and prevent moisture loss.

Make and use a homemade moisturizer. Mix the juice of 1 fresh lime with 1/4-cup boiled whole milk and 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil. Keep this moisturizer refrigerated and apply it to your skin when needed (morning and night is often recommended). Homemade moisturizer will stay fresh for at least three days.

Apply aloe vera gel to your skin. Aloe vera gel is an all-natural gel derived from the aloe vera plant. This gel provides your skin with moisture and creates a thin boundary layer on the skin to prevent moisture from escaping.

Exfoliate your skin naturally. Soak a washcloth in milk. Place the washcloth on your face for five minutes and then rinse the milk off. The lactic acid in milk removes dead skin cells and helps your skin retain moisture.

Puree an avocado and apply the pulp to your face. Keep the pulp on your face for five minutes and then rinse. The oil in the avocado softens skin and contains vitamin E, which helps heal dry skin.

Use a humidifier in your home during the dry months of fall and winter. Dry weather and home heaters can strip your skin of its natural moisture. Humidifiers keep the humidity level in your home high and hydrate your skin in the process.