Dealing with dry, dehydrated skin? Don’t despair. There’s a skin care routine for that!
Maybe your skin feels tight, scaly, flaky, or a combination of all three.
We’ve got you covered.
The following skin care routines and product recommendations for dry skin can leave your skin happy, hydrated, and glowing.
According to a small 2022 study, a consistent skin care regimen can lead to measurable changes in dry skin.
Dry skin can be uncomfortable and is usually marked by scaling, itching, and cracking. While dry skin commonly affects the hands, arms, and legs, it can affect any part of the body.
According to Shawnda Dorantes, RN, BSN, and co-owner of Beauty Lounge Medical Spa, there are several causes of dry skin. These include:
- hard water
- excessive washing
- exposure to irritants
- medical conditions, like hypothyroidism or diabetes
These factors can be mostly classified into two categories, says medical aesthetician Olivia Sparks.
“Dry skin causes can be classified as internal or external, and the easiest to address are the external factors,” Sparks says.
These include factors like:
- bathing habits
- use of harsh soaps
According to Sparks, dry skin, flakiness, and cracked lips may be due to a vitamin B deficiency.
A deficiency in B vitamins “will also make you more sensitive to certain skin care products and sunlight,” she says.
Talk with your healthcare professional about taking a vitamin B complex supplement.
While the causes may differ, anyone can practice a skin routine for dry skin that will be to their benefit.
“As skin dries, it shrinks and causes cracks, which can get deep, painful, and even start to bleed. Cracks allow germs and bacteria to enter the body, which can potentially lead to a skin infection,” says Melanie Speed, RN, BSN, CAN, and owner of Flawless Aesthetics.
When it comes to a skin care routine for dry skin, keep the five steps listed below in mind:
- Cleanse with a hydrating cleanser that doesn’t disrupt the outer skin layer.
- Tone with an alcohol-free toner to restore skin pH.
- Target specific skin concerns with a serum.
- Moisturize with a nourishing, noncomedogenic moisturizer to lock in hydration.
- Protect from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays to prevent sun damage.
Your first step is to choose a hydrating cleanser. You want a cleanser to remove dirt and oil without causing a disruption to the outer skin layer.
A good ingredient to look for is hyaluronic acid.
Many toners use alcohol as a main ingredient, which dries out the skin. Look for an alcohol-free toner with active ingredients that restore the pH levels of your skin.
This step helps to target specific skin concerns. Focus on hydration with a pure hyaluronic acid serum, or opt for something meant to target skin concerns like wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, or acne.
A good moisturizer will lock in the benefits of a serum. Use a moisturizer daily that’s specifically designed for the face.
According to Sparks, “facial moisturizer needs to be really nourishing and hydrating but avoid products that might clog your pores.” It’s a safe bet to look for “noncomedogenic” on the label.
Daily sunscreen use prevents harmful UV rays from damaging the skin.
Believe it or not, acne can happen even when you have dry skin. A few tips can help you clear up blemishes and hydrate at the same time:
- avoid heavy products like oil-based lotions, moisturizers, and sunscreens
- only cleanse the face once per day
- avoid exfoliating, which can dry out the skin
- go easy on drying ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid
Remember that alcohol, dyes, and fragrances may be irritating to sensitive skin. It’s best to look for noncomedogenic products.
There are plenty of natural remedies for dry skin, and some work great for the face.
Coconut oil is an emollient that can be used on sensitive areas, like the under-eyes and around the mouth.
Oatmeal is another soothing ingredient that can help relieve redness and itching.
You can use it in a homemade face mask.
Increasing your intake of omega-3s is another great way to address dryness. Try adding flaxseeds, salmon, and walnuts to your diet.
With all the steps and products, it can be a bit daunting to figure out what products to use and how to not break the bank. Luckily, there are a lot of quality products for dry skin that are affordable.
You can easily find options at your local drugstore or online. Peruse ingredient lists and reviews from people with dry skin. Keep in mind that a higher price tag doesn’t always mean the product will work better for your skin.
A skin care routine for your body will be similar to your face routine. The main difference is the products you’ll use for each.
The first step is cleansing. Choose a product that includes hydrating ingredients like:
- cocoa butter
- olive oil
- aloe vera
- hyaluronic acid
Then move on to moisture, ideally applying while the skin is still damp. Look for creams and ointments that include one or more of the following:
- jojoba oil
- hyaluronic acid
- shea butter
You may find that you benefit from an ointment or cream over a lotion because they contain more oil and less water.
Dry patches on the elbows and knees are fairly common. For the most part, you can moisturize them the same way as the rest of your body.
You may want to try an ointment, which is oilier and takes longer for your skin to absorb than a cream.
In some cases, dry patches on the body may be due to a skin condition like eczema or psoriasis. If you suspect you may be experiencing a skin condition, it’s important to talk with your healthcare professional.
Surprise! It’s the same.
A dry skin care routine for men is the same as for anyone else. While some men may have different preferences in scents and packaging, all skin needs the same kind of care.
There are a few things to keep in mind when you have dry skin that you may not have thought of.
Don’t overdo the caffeine
“Try not to overdo the caffeine intake. Too much caffeine and not enough water will dry you out in a heartbeat,” Sparks explains.
Go easy on the hot water
Hot showers or baths can strip the skin of natural oils. This can cause irritation, dryness, and sometimes even damage to the skin.
Instead of a steamy shower or bath, keep it just warm enough to soothe and relax without drying your skin out.
Avoid harsh products
Some products may make dry skin worse, like:
- chemical peels
- harsh exfoliating products like retinoids
- glycolic acid
- benzoyl peroxide
- salicylic acid
Don’t skip the sunscreen
“Protect your skin from sunburn and skin damage, which will leave skin tight, dry, and looking aged,” Dorantes says.
Lotion collectors, rejoice! You’d have to work really hard to overdo it on the moisturizer.
Kavita Mariwalla, FAAD and board certified dermatologist, says that moisturizing twice daily is ideal.
“Don’t apply moisturizer just once a day. Make sure you apply it twice, and one of those times should be on damp skin,” she says.
While dry skin is mostly harmless, there’s always a possibility that it could be caused by a condition like eczema or psoriasis. Talk with your doctor if you suspect an underlying skin condition.
Additionally, Mariwalla explains that a broken skin barrier can lead to infection. It’s important to protect your skin health to prevent this.
Speed recommends wearing gloves to protect your hands when working with chemicals or lots of water.
Once dry skin becomes uncomfortable or you’re not able to treat it on your own, it’s time to contact a dermatologist. They can help you figure out the cause of your dry skin. This may include environmental factors or skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis.
Your dermatologist can also work with you to develop a treatment plan, which may include over-the-counter or prescription products.
Will a toner dry out my skin?
It depends on the ingredients. Alcohol-based toners can be drying, while alcohol-free toners can provide needed moisture.
If you have dry skin and want to use a toner, look for one made with hydrating ingredients, like glycerin or rose hydrosol.
Should you use an oil- or water-based cleanser for dry skin?
Oil-based cleansers are designed to remove impurities, makeup, and debris without stripping moisture, so they’re a good choice for dry skin. Pair a gentle oil cleanser with a damp microfiber cloth to sweep your skin clean, and you’ll avoid stripping your skin the way traditional cleansers often do.
If you prefer a water-based cleanser, that’s okay too. Just be sure to look for one with hydrating ingredients, like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, or ceramides. Some people also have success with micellar water as a gentle cleanser.
Is vitamin C okay for dry skin?
Certain forms of vitamin C, like ascorbyl glucoside, offer all the brightening benefits without the irritation. If you have dry skin, look for this form of vitamin C specifically. Otherwise, you may have success with a product that combines another form of vitamin C with hydrating ingredients like glycerin.
If you have dry skin, following a daily skin care routine is a great way to find relief. By cleansing, toning, treating, and moisturizing your skin, you’re taking steps toward a healthy, happy dermis.
Consult with a dermatologist for the best routine for you.