Dry skin doesn’t discriminate. It affects people of all ages and in all climates and seasons — not just winter. Having irritated, flaky skin can be a real vibe killer. It’s distracting, uncomfortable, interferes with makeup, and messes with our confidence. But don’t despair! There are plenty of ways to conquer dry skin and usher in a glowing, gorgeous complexion in its place. You might be surprised to learn it isn’t always about what you’re putting on your face, either. (Although that’s a big part of it!)
You’re made up of 60% water, so keeping that H2O balance in check is crucial for radiant skin and overall health and wellness. If you’re looking to say bye to the dry, keep reading. We’ve got all the info you need on how to take care of dry skin to stay hydrated and happy!
IN A NUTSHELL
Main Takeaways: Dry skin is a skin type caused by a lack of natural oils, so it’s important to have a skincare routine that doesn’t strip your skin of its natural oils and offers hydrating ingredients like squalane, hyaluronic acid, and jojoba oil.
Good to Know: Foaming cleansers can dry out your skin, so they’re best avoided if you already have dry skin.
SAY GOODBYE TO DRY
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What Is Dry Skin? What Causes It?
There’s a big difference between dry skin and dehydrated skin. It’s easy to confuse the two since they have lots of overlapping symptoms. When you have a dry skin type, it’s often because there’s a lack of natural oils to keep it hydrated. Dehydrated skin, however, is a temporary condition that can happen to any skin type, whether oily, dry, or combination. It happens due to water loss. Both come with an uncomfortable tight feeling, flakiness, itching, redness, and sensitivity.
Our skin produces a natural oil called sebum, which helps protect it and retains moisture. But there are plenty of killjoys out there that interfere with sebum’s good work. Everything from seasonal changes and not drinking enough water to using certain chemicals can counteract its effects. Anyone can develop dry skin, but it’s even more common as we age and for those who live in cold and low-humidity climates. Dry skin often happens because of environmental factors, and that’s actually good news! It means there are plenty of ways to curb it.
How Do I Know if I Have Dry Skin?
So how do you work out whether your skin is dry or just parched? One thing to try is the pinch test. Give your cheek a gentle squeeze and if it wrinkles instead of holding its shape, your skin is dehydrated. You might also notice new or exaggerated wrinkles, inflammation, dullness, or pronounced dark circles. Dry skin, on the other hand, tends to show up around the corners of the mouth, sides of the nose, and eyebrows via tiny flakes. It will also be sensitive to strong face washes and exfoliants. If it’s extreme, you might see noticeable redness and crack.
The Best Dry Skin Care Routine
We’ve got three words for you: hydration, hydration, hydration! Thirsty skin deserves a tailor-made skincare routine with natural products that boast plenty of nourishing, moisture-rich ingredients. Here’s a regimen to follow:
1. Wash your face with a gentle cleanser.
A mild, natural cleanser like our So Clean! Facial Cleanser is ideal for parched skin. You’ll want something with a no-foam viscosity that won’t irritate you further. Our low-lather formula cleans and removes makeup without drying and lacks harsh ingredients that sap the skin of natural oils. Rub a small amount in your hands to warm it up and massage it in with lukewarm water. Rinse off and then pat dry with a clean cloth.
2. Use a hydrating toner.
After washing, you’ll need to rebalance and restore moisture levels. Less is more, which is why our Rose and Shine toner is a great option since it only contains distilled water and rose flower oil. That means no drying alcohol! You can also seek out soothing toners with ingredients like chamomile or cucumber. Feel free to apply multiple layers to especially thirsty skin, targeting areas like your jawline, chin, and cheeks. And let it sink in!
3. Nourish with an antioxidant-rich serum.
Now’s the time to give your skin another shot of hydration along with some protection. That’s where antioxidant-rich serums, like our Nectar of the C, really shine. It’s packed with a high concentration of a gentle form of vitamin C, which brightens and evens skin tone like there’s no tomorrow. And thanks to its organic aloe vera and jojoba, a healthy dose of moisture gets locked in.
4. Use a dab of eye cream.
The skin around our eyes is even more delicate than the rest of the face. Add that to the fact that it has even fewer oil glands, and you’re dealing with dry, lackluster-looking peepers. Moisturizing eye creams with peptides and antioxidants, (ahem…like our Eyes Eyes Baby) can easily plump and pep up a woebegone eye area.
5. Integrate a facial oil.
For exceptionally dry skin, a hydrating facial oil works wonders. Especially during the winter months! A balanced, moisture-rich facial oil can add an extra boost while softening skin.
Arguably the most important step of all. Dry skin types love to soak up rich, creamy lotions with moisture barrier-reinforcing components like glycerin. If you’re looking for hydration without heaviness, gel moisturizers are also good.
7. End your morning routine with sunscreen.
Sunscreen is a non-negotiable for everyone, but especially for people with dry skin. You can use a moisturizer with built-in SPF or a separate sunscreen formulated for the face. It should leave you feeling hydrated but not greasy.
8. Use a mild exfoliant or detoxifying mask weekly.
One of the most frustrating aspects of having dry skin is the flakes! It can be tempting to slough them off with an aggressive exfoliator, but that will just dry you out more. Instead, use a gentle exfoliator or rich mask like our Prince Charcoal detox mask. Doing this at least once a week can help revitalize and brighten your complexion.
How to take care of dry skin depends on tons of changing factors. So don’t hesitate to double up on moisturizer or your serums on excessively hot or cold days, and always take a moment to skim ingredient lists!
Ingredients Dry Skin Should Avoid
We wouldn’t tell you to scrutinize labels without giving you a rundown on what ingredients and products you should avoid. While this isn’t an exhaustive list, (there are hundreds of baddies out there), it should get you off to a great start. Steer clear of:
- Most alcohols — Not all alcohol in skincare is bad, but denatured alcohol, benzyl alcohol, ethyl alcohol, and isopropyl alcohol are no-nos.
- Parabens and non-natural preservatives.
- Added “fragrance” — This usually refers to non-natural ingredients but even natural added fragrances can be drying. And since companies don’t have to disclose the ingredients that make up their “fragrance,” you don’t know what exactly is going on your face. We love a good mystery, but not when it comes to our skincare.
- Astringents — Not the same as a toner! Astringents may be handy for oily skin but are too harsh for dry skin types.
- Foaming cleansers — These may contain cleaning agents like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), which can irritate.
- Retinoids — Including retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, retinoic acid, and retinol.
- Benzoyl peroxide — causes dryness and peeling. Yikes!
- Salicylic acid — Overuse can aggravate sensitive and dry skin.
- Polyethylene/PEGs — These petroleum-based compounds reduce moisture levels.
Best Ingredients for Dry Skin
While there are tons of ingredients that are bad news for dry skin, there are plenty of natural, good-for-you ones to look for as well! Such as:
- Squalane — Derived from olive oil, squalane mimics our natural sebum. It hydrates, plumps, and soothes skin.
- Hyaluronic acid (HA) — This naturally-occurring substance attracts water, helping to keep your skin looking fresh, youthful, and healthy.
- Aloe vera — This nourishing green plant includes vitamins A, B, C, D, and E, plus minerals like magnesium, potassium, and zinc. It soothes and seals in moisture while eliminating build-up.
- Glycerin — A plant-based, odorless ingredient that attracts water like a sponge.
- Matrixyl 3000 — An anti-aging peptide that reduces dryness and minimizes the appearance of fine lines.
- Green tea — This ancient ingredient is rich in antioxidants, adds moisture, and helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles. (Drinking it is also a wise idea!)
- Jojoba oil — A natural moisturizer that softens and conditions skin.
- Ubiquinone (Coenzyme Q10) — A nutrient our body makes less of as we age with antioxidant effects that protect against environmental stressors while helping with hydration.
- Vitamin B3 — A must-have that helps your skin keep its water content intact.
- Algae — Sourced from the ocean, this antioxidant-rich extract nourishes and moisturizes by attracting water and boosting mineral content.
Tips and Tricks for Conquering Dry Skin
On top of using products with moisturizing ingredients, there are other things you can do to keep your skin hydrated:
- Drink water. Eight eight-ounce glasses of H2O per day will make sure you’re hydrated from head to toe.
- Turn down the heat. While hot showers and baths can feel luxurious, they also sap moisture from your skin. Make sure you’re washing your face with cool or lukewarm water — and try to do the same for the rest of your body.
- Keep it quick. We know it can be hard, but try to limit your time in the shower or bath to under 15 minutes. Close the bathroom door to keep humidity in with you.
- Add water-rich foods to your diet. Watermelon, celery, pineapple, cantaloupe, strawberries, lettuce, oranges, raspberries, green peppers, spinach, and avocado are all packed with H2O and antioxidants.
- Try a humidifier. The air in our homes can get super dry, which exacerbates skin issues. Investing in a humidifier can keep moisture in the air, especially when sleeping, which helps your skin stay hydrated.
- Take toner and lip balm on the go. Perfect for hydrating when you’re out and about.
- Avoid rough bath sponges, scrub brushes, and washcloths. Always pat or blot the skin when toweling dry.
- Apply moisturizer immediately after washing. Your pores are open and your skin is still damp, which are ideal conditions for soaking up lotion.
- Visit your derm. If your dry skin is chronic or excessive, ask a professional to determine the best treatment methods for you.
Remember — you can combat dry skin by being mindful of what you put on and in your body, drinking tons of water, and always using sunscreen! And look to us for natural, gentle skincare products that offer intense hydration, because you know we’d never hang you out to dry.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dry Skincare Routines
What is dry skin?
Dry skin is skin that produces less natural oils (sebum) or that has been dehydrated due to internal or environmental factors.
Why is my skin so dry?
There are lots of reasons why skin gets dry, including heat, dehydration, low humidity, dry and cold climates, sudden temperature changes, and chemicals in skincare products.
Why does dry skin itch?
With the loss of natural oils, dry skin becomes irritated and gets itchy to signal that something is wrong.
How do I know if I have dry skin?
Itchiness, redness, cracks, bleeding, flakes, and dullness are all signs of dry skin.
What’s the best skincare routine for dry skin?
Dry skin types should prioritize gentle and natural moisturizing products above all else and avoid harsh ingredients.
Can foods cause dry skin?
Yep! Food and drink that is high in salt, alcohol, sugar, refined carbohydrates, caffeine, and trans fats can all contribute to dry skin.
What ingredients should dry skin avoid?
Dry skin should steer clear of most alcohols, parabens, synthetic preservatives, retinoids, astringents, and added fragrances.
What ingredients should I seek out for dry skin?
Natural ingredients are best for dry skin, including squalane, jojoba, aloe vera, green tea, algae, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid.
What is the best way to treat dry skin?
Outside of using moisture-rich, natural skincare products, it’s best to avoid excessive heat, long baths and showers, and rough exfoliants and sponges. Using a humidifier, eating water-rich foods, and drinking tons of water can also work wonders.
Hi, I’m Regina. I’m a no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is skin coach and writer on a mission to help you achieve your best skin day ever – every day. I bust skincare myths and debunk marketing jargon to help you figure out what’s worth the splurge and what’s best left on the shelf – using science, not hype. I also offer skin care consultations to help you create the best skincare routine for your unique needs. Regina is a self-professed skin care junkie with a passion for experimenting with the latest beauty products and trends. She helps create engaging content for Ourcareproducts.com’s audience.