May 12, 2021

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There's nothing like our health

The Ultimate Skin Care Routine for Dry Skin

5 min read

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 routine and recommendations for dry skin can leave your skin happy, hydrated, and glowing.

Whether it’s a tried-and-true skin care regimen, how often you wash your hair, or the cosmetics you’re curious about, beauty is personal.

That’s why we rely on a diverse group of writers, educators, and other experts to share their tips on everything from the way product application varies to the best sheet mask for your individual needs.

We only recommend something we genuinely love, so if you see a shop link to a specific product or brand, know that it’s been thoroughly researched by our team.

Healthline

According to a 2020 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:

  • environment
  • hard water
  • genetics
  • 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,” says Sparks.

These include factors like:

  • humidity
  • 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:

  1. Cleanse with a hydrating cleanser that doesn’t disrupt the outer skin layer.
  2. Tone with an alcohol-free toner to restore skin pH.
  3. Target specific skin concerns with a serum.
  4. Moisturize with a nourishing, noncomedogenic moisturizer to lock in hydration.
  5. Protect from harmful UV rays to prevent sun damage.

Cleanse

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, as in Cetaphil’s Gentle Skin Cleanser or CeraVe’s Hydrating Facial Cleanser.

Tone

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.

A great option is Alaffia Everyday Coconut Face Toner.

Target

This step helps to target specific skin concerns. Focus on hydration with a pure hyaluronic acid serum such as The Ordinary Hylauronic Acid 2% + B5.

Moisturize

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.

Kavita Mariwalla, FAAD and board certified dermatologist, recommends SkinFix Barrier+ Triple Lipid-Peptide Face Cream.

Protect

Daily sunscreen use prevents harmful UV rays from damaging the skin.

“I recommend wearing sunscreen to protect your skin from harsh UV rays regardless of your skin type. For sunscreen, I like ISDIN Eryfotona and La Roche-Posay Anthelios,” says Mariwalla.

Lower cost options include Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Lotion Sunscreen or Aveeno Protect + Hydrate Face-Moisturizing Sunscreen.

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 Sebamed’s Gentle Hydrating Cleanser or CeraVe’s Hydrating Cleanser Bar.

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:

You may find that you benefit from an ointment or cream over a lotion because they contain more oil and less water.

AmLactin Rapid Relief Restoring Lotion is my favorite body [moisturizer] since it has 15% lactic acid,” says Mariwalla. You can also try Ceramedx Ultra Moisturizing Cream.

Surprise! It’s the same.

A dry skin 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,” explains Sparks.

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 the skin.

Instead of a steamy shower or bath, keep it just warm enough to soothe and relax without drying your skin out.

Research shows that an optimum bath temperature for healthy adults is somewhere between 104 to 109°F (40 to 43°C). If you’re pregnant, an older adult, or you have a health condition, lower temperatures are recommended. Talk with your doctor.

Avoid harsh products

Some products may make dry skin worse, like:

Don’t skip the sunscreen

“Protect your skin from sunburn and skin damage, which will leave skin tight, dry, and looking aged,” says Dorantes.

Don’t under-moisturize

Lotion collectors, rejoice! You’d have to work really hard to overdo it on the moisturizer.

According to Mariwalla, 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 warns to wear gloves to protect your hands when working with chemicals or lots of water.

If you have dry skin, following a daily skin care routine is the best 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 ideal routine for you.

Ashley Hubbard is a freelance writer based in Nashville, Tennessee, focusing on sustainability, travel, veganism, mental health, social justice, and more. Passionate about animal rights, sustainable travel, and social impact, she seeks out ethical experiences whether at home or on the road. Visit her website.