Fixing dry skin isn’t as simple as a single application of lotion or moisturizer. There are a number of contributing or aggravating factors that you need to consider when restoring balance and moisture, especially for the long haul.
Dry skin happens to everyone—even if you have naturally oily complexion. It can pop up seasonally—at peak winter, or even in summer as you sleep in an air-conditioned room—or as a result from overwashing. On the other end of the spectrum, people with perennially dry skin are itching (sometimes literally) for a permanent solution to their woes.
We’ll focus primarily on dry facial skin for the below advice, though the habitual/lifestyle tips apply to the rest of your body, too. Read on for our advice on reversing dry skin, once and for all.
Use these products
Cleanser flushes away sweat, grime, and excess oil, but it can also rinse away too much oil if you aren’t using a carefully formulated product. The sebum in your skin, when in proper supply, is what’s responsible for nourishing and softening everything. So it’s something you want to preserve, as much as possible, particularly if your skin is naturally dry.
Look for cleansers that promise to preserve hydration, and potentially even use ingredients (like hyaluronic acid) that add moisture while rinsing away grime.
A moisturizer’s primary function is to prevent moisture loss from within your skin, and to box out skin-damaging toxins in the air (as well as UV rays when the product contains SPF). By keeping moisture in and the bad stuff out, it keeps skin soft, firm, and supple—both short-term and long-term. Aim for SPF 30+ every day to block an effective amount of UV rays.
A serum is unlike a moisturizer in that it seeps into your skin and has a greater, more proactive impact on your skin. And depending on the type of serum you use, you can target specific issues like dryness. In this case, apply a hyaluronic acid serum beneath your moisturizer, to attract moisture from the air. The ingredient holds water up to 1,000 times its weight, which gives you a plump, nourished complexion.
Be careful though: avoid this product in winter, when the air is dry. It will extract moisture from even deeper within your skin, and leave you with drier complexion than when you started. It requires some humidity to work effectively.
With dry skin comes flaking, itching, and rough texture. By exfoliating your skin 2-3 times weekly, you can safely buff away or dissolve the dead skin cells on the surface of the skin, and make way for the healthier, more supple ones. Don’t over exfoliate, though, because that will only redden and irritate your skin further.
You can use a gentle exfoliating serum (with alpha hydroxy acids, or AHAs, like lactic and glycolic acid) as well as beta hydroxy acid (BHA, like salicylic acid). Or, you can try a physical and gentle scrub, like one with jojoba beads or ground pumice. Our vote is the former, since BHA can also unclog pores by dissolving dead skin cells that might trap themselves inside—and in turn prevent acne that results from said clogging.
Using a separate hydrator at bedtime is imperative to maintaining moisture levels in the skin while boosting hydration. Night creams are chock full of nourishing ingredients and are great at countering the drying effects of air conditioning or winter weather, while also syncing with your body’s regenerative cycle to magnify results. You’ll wake up with firmer, brighter, and more resilient skin.
Change your habits
Dry skin can also be resultant of your lifestyle—or at least aggravated by your lifestyle, if you are predisposed to having dry skin in the first place. In addition to prioritizing the above products and regimen, try tweaking your habits or lifestyle in the following ways to preserve moisture levels for the short- and long-term.
Take cooler, shorter showers: Overly warm water dries out your skin, period. And so does excessive exposure to water. (As backwards as it might seem.) So, while a long, hot shower might soothe the senses, it parches the pelt pretty badly.
Avoid dehydrating food and drink: Anything that dehydrates your body will have a terrible impact on your face. We’re talking excessive caffeine, alcohol, excess salt, and sugary/processed foods. Keep these to a minimum, and water to a maximum, and you should notice a drastic difference.
Drink lots of water: In tandem with the last tip, you need to step up your water intake. No shock here.
Nix the vices: Up there with alcohol and sugary foods, there are other vices that dry out your skin, such as drugs and cigarettes. Cut ‘em—for all the right healthy reasons.
Stay out of the sun: As nice as it is to soak up the sun’s rays (and hopefully you’re doing so with SPF), this habit also significantly dries out the skin. Moderation is key.
Sleep with a humidifier in the room: This does wonders for your skin, in that it prevents you from sleeping in a dry, dehydrating environment for up to 8 hours on end. As a bonus, you’ll also wake up with better breath by preventing dry mouth.
For more tips, read our 6 tips for transitional skincare and the benefits of chia see oil in skincare. Also, make sure you are layering your skincare products correctly.
Photo via Stock