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How to Treat Dry Skin

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Regardless of your skin type you’ve likely experienced dry skin at some point. It sucks, it hurts, and it makes you look older. 

Here’s our guide to getting rid of it. 

What causes dry skin:

Aside from genetics and cold weather, here are some things that cause dry skin that you can actually control.

Showering too long, too often - While it seems a bit counterintuitive, water—unless it’s delivered to the skin properly—actually dries out your skin because it removes surface lipids (natural oils) that lock in moisture. Hot water is even worse because it absolutely obliterates your skin’s natural moisture barrier. Keep your showers short, warm, and to once per day unless you really need another.

Using hot water - While showering too often is bad, showering with hot water is even worse because it absolutely obliterates your skin’s natural moisture barrier. Keep your showers at a warm or lukewarm temperature.

The sun - We’re all for sunny days, but that big fireball in the sky is kryptonite to your skin. Not only does the sun cause 90% of wrinkles but it also causes dryness by thickening the outermost layer of your skin. Thick skin, in this case, is not a good thing. Wearing a daily SPF moisturizer will prevent both aging and dryness.

Cleansing too often - Don’t wash your face more than twice per day, doing so will compromise the pH balance of your skin and lead to dryness. This goes for any skin type by the way—even oily skin. If you’re prone to breakouts, cleansing too often can actually lead to increased breakouts.

Harsh ingredientsSome skincare, especially a lot of the drug-store stuff, contains harsh ingredients that are absolute don’ts for dry skin. Here’s a list to avoid:

  • Sulfates - Sulfates are very commonly found in inexpensive face washes and bar soaps. Sulfates clean the skin by washing away grime but also remove all of the good stuff your skin needs to look and feel healthy.
  • Denatured alcohol - Some “fatty alcohols” are actually good for dry skin. That said, denatured alcohol, while providing short-term benefits for oily skin, will just dry you out in the long run.
  • Salicylic acid - Salicylic acid is a fantastic skincare ingredient for many skin types—especially oily, breakout-prone skin. That said, if you have dry skin, it’s generally best avoided or used very sparingly because it can aggravate dryness.
  • Benzoyl peroxide - Another acne-fighter that we love when used properly but best avoided by dry skin. If you think you have dry, acne-prone skin, our Experts can build you a regimen that hydrates while healing acne.

How to treat dry skin:

Moisturizing regularly is a great start, but you came here to learn so let’s go a bit deeper. Here are some of the best ingredients for dry skin:

  • Hyaluronic acid - The hydration hero. Hyaluronic acid draws in moisture from the air around you and has the power to hold 1000x its weight in water. When we said water has to be delivered to the skin properly, this is what we meant. While many moisturizers contain hyaluronic acid, using a more-potent hyaluronic acid serum is an even better option.
  • Squalane - While hyaluronic acid draws moisture to the skin, squalane locks it in. 
  • Ceramides - If your skin were made of bricks, ceramides would be the mortar—they’re essential for ensuring moisture doesn’t slip through the cracks. While your skin contains ceramides naturally, dry skin generally has fewer, so it’s best to supplement with ceramide-rich skincare.
  • Shea butter - It sounds like it might clog your pores, but shea butter is actually non-comedogenic (non-pore clogging) and super hydrating.

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The breakdown
  • 01
    Know your ingredients.

    Treating dry skin requires avoiding certain ingredients while utilizing others. The lists above are a good starting point, our Experts know the rest.

  • 02
    Hot water hurts.

    Hot water destroys the natural moisture barrier of your skin. Keep your showers warm and short.

  • 03
    Shield the sun.

    Unprotected sun exposure will, over time, thicken your skin and lead to dryness.

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