How To Take On Dry Skin & Win

Why the dry?
Dry skin produces less oil, and skin needs that natural grease to hold itself together, stay smooth, and to keep water in – with less of it, dry skin has a hard time staying hydrated. Dehydrated skin doesn’t work its best. Dead skin cells hang around longer than they should, creating flakey areas. Skin’s protective outer layer isn’t as strong, and skin is more brittle than bouncy so small cracks happen that let irritating pollution, dirt, chemicals or bacteria in. Skin gets inflamed and red trying to fight off the intruders. Sensitivity and dryness are together a lot. Skin gets drier with age.

Help skin stay moisturized, and skin starts working better.

  1. Cleanse
    Keep it gentle. Milks, creams, balms and oil cleansers are good options. Avoid products with soap or sulfates. Avoid hot water, long showers. With very dry skin, you can do wipe off oil-based cleanser with just a soft, damp cloth or cotton pad.
  2. Moisturize
    Morning and night. Heavier at night. Slather it on – and get it done fast, while skin is still damp. Lotion or cream right after washing traps moisture in.
  3. Sunscreen
    Easy and obvious. You’ve seen sun-dried tomatoes, right?

Exfoliate – AHA All the Way
Glycolic and lactic acids are two heroes here. The hydroxyacids we love so much help dry skin do a better job creating its own moisture, which means a stronger barrier against the outside world, and better ability to hold water in. Harvard Medical School dermatology doctor, Dr. Gilchrest, advises "look for moisturizers with alpha hydroxy acids, also called fruit acids, such as lactic acid or glycol acid. Creams with alpha hydroxy acids tend to hold moisture in the skin longer than other moisturizers." You’ll love the disappearing dry patches. Don’t tear up your skin with the rough stuff. You know, like scrubbing your face with crushed walnut shells.

Avoid products with alcohol as an ingredient – it just makes skin drier. Add some B vitamins to your routine. Giving skin a dose of B3 (niacinamide) is a top way to keep skin more hydrated and boost skin’s own production of natural moisturizing elements (the stuff we need to make a strong skin barrier). B5 (panthenol) also boosts skin hydration and helps skin function better.

The quick version
Do: gentle cleanser, lukewarm water, moisturizer day and night (heavier at night) – get it on soon after washing, sunscreen every day, AHA exfoliate, B vitamins
Don’t: soap, sulfates, hot water, abrasive scrubs, products with alcohol

If you're ready to get your shop on, take a look at our top picks for dry skin.

– Margot