How to Hydrate Dry Skin

how to hydrate dry skin
Image credits: Shutterstock

Dry skin can be extremely irritating. It often leaves people feeling very itchy and self conscious about any flakiness, redness or irritation that is present. It’s very difficult to cover up dry skin with makeup, making it a much better idea to try and heal your dry skin. Hydrating your skin along with repairing the barrier of your skin is the ideal method of caring for dry skin. Some people are just more prone to this problem than others, but you can develop a skin care routine for dry skin that is very beneficial throughout the different seasons of the year. Whether you’re prone to dry winter skin or the summer sun makes you dry out, there are different methods and products to take into consideration.

What is Dry Skin?

Dry skin can affect anyone at any age. It’s not necessarily something you’ll always deal with, as it can come and go with the change of seasons or based on your age. That tight, itchy irritation can be pretty serious for many people, especially for someone that experiences cracked and bleeding dry skin. When the skin is dry, there is a trans-epidermal water loss present. This can be due to dehydration within the body, but there’s often an external component that’s causing a problem. This could be allergies, exposure to the elements, a breakdown in the skin’s natural barrier or exposure to things like detergents or strong soaps.

It’s important to keep in mind that all skin types require hydration to some extent. Even people that deal with oily skin on a regular basis will need to add moisturizer to their skincare routine. It’s just a matter of what kind of product you choose for your South Asian skin. What you’re essentially trying to do is allow your natural oils to create a healthy and protective barrier on your skin.

The Components of a Dry Skin Care Routine

The ordinary dry skin routine that works best for people generally incorporates a few different products and practices. You need to stay on top of a regimen that focuses on nourishing products that boast high levels of hydration throughout the day and night. You should also focus on repairing and maintaining the lipid barrier of your skin, in order to retain moisture while preventing the growth of bacteria on the skin.

What is the Best Cleanser for Dry Skin?

You’ll still need to cleanse your face and body when you have dry skin, but you should be careful about the products that you select. Many soaps can be very strong and drying, and these products should be avoided. Look for something that is gentle, and potentially something that is a cream or oil-based cleanser. When you’re done washing your face, you shouldn’t feel like your skin is tight or dry. It should feel clean and hydrated.

Some great ingredients to look for in a dry skin cleanser includes vitamin E, glycerin and hyaluronic acid. It might sound counterproductive to use an acid-based ingredient in your products if you have dry skin. However, hyaluronic acid can actually help the skin retain moisture. If your skin is experiencing a very bad flare up of irritated and dry skin, look for a cleanser that contains colloidal oatmeal, chamomile or avocado oil.

Using a Toner for Your Dry Skin

A toner can be utilized to boost the hydration that you have on your skin without having to put on a heavy product. If you’re going to be applying makeup in the morning, a lot of people prefer a toner instead of a moisturizer. It helps to seal in moisture while soothing the skin by way of ingredients like cucumber, witch hazel, chamomile and bamboo. A toner that contains micellar water can help you keep your pores clear and clean.

Should Skin Be Exfoliated as Part of the Routine?

A lot of people believe that they shouldn’t exfoliate their dry skin because it could just cause further irritation. In reality, you want to get that dead skin off the surface of your skin so you can stimulate the growth of new skin cells. You should stick to exfoliating once per week when you have dry skin, and be careful about the products that you choose. Stay away from harsh chemicals that could lead to stripping more moisture from the skin. Glycolic acid, colloidal oatmeal and salt scrubs are all great options.

Be gentle when exfoliating. You want to work the product onto your face in circular motions, being very careful not to irritate the skin. After about two minutes of exfoliating gently, rinse the product off using lukewarm water. Pat your face dry rather than rubbing at it.

The Benefits of a Hydrating Serum

Serums are great for dry skin because they’re full of nutrients, and the product usually stays on the skin for a good length of time. This is an integral part of the best skin care routine for dry skin. Serums often contain hyaluronic acid in its composition. It works as a humectant, which means it helps your skin to retain moisture while drawing in moisture from the air around you. If you live somewhere humid, this can be an ideal product to have available.

A serum can be used throughout the day under your makeup, and you can also use a restorative nighttime serum to help your skin heal and be hydrated as you sleep. If you’re comfortable in your own skin, patting on some serum in the morning and skipping the makeup for the day can be very beneficial.

Using an Eye Cream for Dry Skin

A lot of people experience dry skin around their eyes, as this is a very sensitive area of the face that has very thin skin. A moisturizer targeted for the eye area can provide you with hydration by way of gentle ingredients such as Vitamin E, hyaluronic acid, chamomile and niacinamide and almond oil.

The Best Moisturizers for Dry Skin

Lighter moisturizers work well for oily skin as they don’t clog pores and cause breakouts, but you can choose something much thicker if you’re not worried about your skin breaking out. Look for a moisturizer for dry skin that contains ceramides, which help promote a healthy lipid barrier on the skin. If you’re in your late 30s, 40s or 50s, your lipid barrier is likely breaking down a bit. You’ll need that help to keep your skin hydrated and healthy.

Other moisturizer ingredients that can help with dry skin include shea butter, cocoa butter, glycerine, almond oil, petrolatum and dimethicone. Don’t forget to choose a moisturizer that contains SPF protection. Sun exposure is a common way for skin damage to occur along with dry skin. Look for a product that contains a minimum of 30 SPF, but feel free to go higher towards the 50 SPF mark.

Taking Care of Your Dry Skin Overnight

If you have dry skin, it’s a good idea to take full advantage of your body’s natural ability to heal the skin while you sleep. Overnight skin products can help to heal and protect your skin while you catch some z’s. When you wake up in the morning, you’ll want to wash your nighttime products off, and then apply your products for the day. Keeping up with the routine will allow your skin to always be hydrated and receive the nutrients that it needs to be healthy.

Pay close attention to the cleanser that you’re using before bed. You never want to skip washing your face just because your skin is prone to being dry. You still need to wash off any bacteria, dirt, sebum or dead skin cells that are present. This helps to stimulate collagen production and the growth of new skin cells. Make sure that you’re choosing your nighttime cleanser carefully. It should be a product that cleanses without stripping away any of the natural oils that are on your skin.

Always use tepid water rather than your face routine for dry skin using hot water in the bath or shower. Extremely cold water can have the same effect as warm water, so stay away from the extremes.

After your skin has been washed and dried, you’ll want to apply your moisturizing products. Serums or creams are the best products to use at night because they’ll provide you with ample hydration throughout the hours that you’re in bed (shoot for eight hours per night!). Don’t forget, humectants will help draw the moisture out of the air and into your skin. Other beneficial ingredients include jojoba oil, shea butter and vitamin E. Apply your products with clean hands, and gently pat your product onto your face. Avoid rubbing your face, as this can lead to loose skin or fine lines / wrinkles.

What You Should Avoid

We’ve talked a lot about what can help your dry skin, but you should also be paying attention to what you need to avoid in order to have healthier and supple skin. There are some ingredients and products that you should avoid at all costs if you’re prone to dry skin issues. Let’s take a look.

Alcohol

Skin products that contain fatty alcohols (cetearyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol) aren’t always bad, as they can often function to help your skin retain its moisture. However, products that contain ethyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol or benzyl alcohol should be avoided at all costs. They’re very drying, and they penetrate the skin easily. If you’re someone that experiences breakouts on top of your dry skin, you could expect a lot more blemishes with alcohol-based products.

Chemical Fragrances

Natural-based products often are scented from the organic ingredients that they are made with, and this isn’t typically an issue for people with dry skin. However, chemical fragrances that are artificially derived can be very irritating (not to mention unpleasant). To be on the safe side, opt for products that are completely fragrance-free. Hypoallergenic is another label you should look for. This means that the product you’re considering doesn’t contain the ingredients that are generally very irritating to people.

Astringent

People often think that astringent is the same thing as toner, but this isn’t true. Astringents are used for people with oily skin in order to remove the excess oil that’s on the skin and inside of the pores. It should be avoided when you have dry skin. You want to retain some of those oils to protect your skin. You should be using a toner though, and it should be one that is designed with dry skin in mind.

Foaming Soaps

A lot of face washes are being made as a foaming product. The purpose of a foaming face wash is to dissolve the sebum that is deep down in the pores of the face. It can really dry out the skin, especially if it contains ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate. Stick with a trusted cream cleanser if you have dry skin.

The Best Natural Products for Dry Skin

You can effectively heal your dry skin by using natural skin care products that are designed to replenish the moisture that is lost. While your lifestyle is important as well, your products are something you should be paying close attention to. There are many plants and botanicals in nature that have been used on the skin for centuries thanks to their benefits.

Christina Moss Naturals

Christina Moss Naturals makes a daily facial moisturizer that contains anise, aloe vera and other pure ingredients. It’s beneficial for all skin types, as it will hydrate without clogging your pores. The essential oils used in the product will nourish your skin without leaving it feeling greasy or messy.

LilyAna Naturals Face Cream

LilyAna Naturals Rose and Pomegranate Face Cream is designed to heal and protect our skin from UV radiation, pollution in the air, dry air and much more. It can be used to stop peeling and irritated skin from ruining your day. This product contains Vitamin C, rose petals, cranberry extract and meadowfoam seed oil. It’s great for skin types of all kinds, including sensitive and dry skin.

Derma E Hydrating Day Cream

If you’re looking for daytime protection and hydration, Derma E makes a wonderful hydrating day cream that contains ingredients like Vitamin E, hyaluronic acid, green tea extract, aloe vera, Vitamin B5 and more. You can also purchase their Vitamin C Intense Night Cream for even more hydration during the nighttime hours.

Lifestyle Changes for Dry Skin

The products that you put onto your skin are very important if you’re trying to cope with dry skin. However, there are a number of lifestyle changes that you may want to take into consideration as well. You can often heal the body from the inside-out using things like dietary changes or exercise.

Adding Moisture to the Air That You Breathe

Adding hydration to the surface of your skin can help heal dry skin, but it’s also important to look at the quality of the air that you’re breathing. If you’re breathing in dry air, this is going to dehydrate your body. Dehydration directly affects the condition of your skin. If the air around you is properly hydrated, then your skin will be able to absorb some of that moisture.

If you’re home, you can use a humidifier in the rooms that you spend the most time in. If nothing else, use a humidifier in your bedroom while you sleep. When you couple that with the humectant products that you’re using, your skin will look healthier in no time. If your entire home deals with dry air for a good portion of the year, think about having a whole-house humidifier added onto your furnace. At work or on-the-go, there are portable humidifiers that are powered by battery. You can use them in your car, on your desk, etc.

Drinking More Water Each Day

Approximately 60 percent of our bodies are made up of water, so it’s imperative that we hydrate throughout the course of the day. You should be drinking at least eight glasses of water each day, but you can increase that amount if you’re prone to dry skin. It’s better to hydrate with water or fruit juices. Stay away from things like coffee or caffeinated soda, which can be drying to the skin and body.

Your Shower or Bath Water

The temperature of your bath or shower water is important. While it’s nice to take a hot shower as a way to unwind at the end of a long day, hot water will dry the skin out very quickly as it strips your skin of its natural oils. You’ll quickly see your skin start to peel or crack from your hot showers.

You should stay in the water for no longer than ten minutes. Anything over that period of time will lead to dry skin as well. Once you’ve gotten out of the shower, you can apply a full-body moisturizer to your skin while your skin is still wet. This will help your skin retain some of that additional moisture while trapping your natural oils inside as well.

Certain products that you’re using in the shower could also be contributing to your dry skin. When you wash your body, use a gentle and moisturizing body wash that won’t dry or irritate you. You should stick to washing areas like your underarms, groin, etc. Don’t use soap on your arms, legs or torso if you don’t need to. These areas dry out more quickly than others, and they usually don’t need to be scrubbed every day.

When you shave your legs, pay attention to the type of razor that you’re using as well as the product you’re using to shave. Definitely look for a razor that has a lubricating strip on it. This will prevent your razor from pulling the hair out of the skin and causing irritation, and you’ll get a boost of hydration as you shave. Stay away from shave gels and shave creams that contain fragrances and chemicals. They tend to cause a lot of irritation.

Dry skin is something that should be taken very seriously. Finding the cause of the problem is important. This allows you to address your dry skin more effectively. You can remove anything that’s irritating your skin, and target the problem with specific ingredients. If you allow your dry skin to remain the way it is for a long period of time, this can lead to scarring and damaged skin. It’s a good idea to come up with a dry skin routine that utilizes the right products to rejuvenate and heal your skin. If your skin is very irritated or you’re experiencing a flare up of a condition like eczema, you can seek help from a professional dermatologist. There may be the need for prescription products that can help heal your skin before you continue with a regular skincare routine.