Regardless of whether we blame genetics, old radiators, or the cold weather, the battle against dry skin can often feel like an insurmountable beast. From itchy, flaky skin to breakouts and more, figuring out the right skincare routine during unexpected skin shifts can feel overwhelming. The good news is, dry skin isn’t usually serious, and there are several reasons why it can occur. But if it is causing you extreme discomfort and you can’t seem to get a handle on it, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor. Luckily, Dr. Y. Claire Chang is here to “save our skin”—literally—with the best dry skin skincare routine so you don’t have the play the guessing game any longer.
Dr. Chang tells us that dry skin is actually very common and can be a result of both external and internal factors. External factors include low humidity, cold weather, lack of moisturizer, drying skincare products, or long hot showers which can worsen dry skin. Those with a predisposition to certain skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis are also prone to dry skin. Other medical conditions, like diabetes and thyroid disease, as well as medications can also cause dry skin. And as if that weren’t enough, our skin tends to get drier with age as well.
What is the ideal skincare routine for someone with dry skin?
Dr. Chang notes that those with dry skin should stick with a gentle skincare routine that includes multiple hydration-boosting steps. Skincare should focus on products that repair the skin while keeping moisture in.
- Choose cleansers that are soap-free and contain hydrating ingredients.
- Hydrating sheet masks, toners, and serums can be applied after cleansing to give a boost of hydration.
- It is always important to finish with a thick moisturizing cream or ointment to lock in the moisture. Even those who are acne-prone can use a thicker cream, just look for one that is “oil-free” and “non-comedogenic.”
- Everyone, including those with dry skin, should apply sunscreen every day and reapply every few hours. Sun exposure can actually worsen dry skin, so daily sun protection is key.
There are also a number of lifestyle changes that you can make to prevent dry skin, including using a humidifier to add moisture back into the skin, adapting your skincare routine as the seasons change, and switching out lighter lotions for thicker creams and ointments.
Keep your eyes peeled for hydrating ingredients
It is obvious that using moisturizers can relieve dry skin, Dr. Chang points out, but knowing which ingredients are most effective is important. She recommends using a combination of hydrating ingredients, including humectants to draw moisture into the skin, emollients to smooth and soften skin, and occlusives to lock moisture in.
- Hyaluronic acid
- Lactic acid
What should those with dry skin avoid?
- Avoid harsh, drying soaps or irritating skincare products.
- Don’t overexfoliate.
- Use gloves to protect your skin if exposed to harsh chemicals at home or at work.
- Limit extended exposure to hot water. (Keep bathing time to 10 minutes or less using lukewarm water.)