If your face feels tight and you’re prone to itchy, flaking skin, welcome to the dry skin club. For some of us, dry skin on the face is a seasonal malady brought on by a combination of winter’s arctic temperatures and biting wind combined with overly dry heating systems. It’s no wonder that our skin can be at its most vulnerable during the frosty months. For other people, especially those who live in more temperate climates, extremely dry skin is simple their skin’s status quo. When dry skin is a year-round concern, it’s known as xerosis cutis. This happens when the skin’s natural reserves of oils are low and the outer layer of skin doesn’t retain its moisture levels.
While dry skin can be uncomfortable and nobody likes the look of flaking, peeling skin, in extreme cases it can caused cracked skin. Untreated dry skin can also exacerbate the look of fine lines and wrinkles. If you’re wondering why your skin is so dry, genetics and age can certainly play a part in skin type, but if you suffer from dry skin there’s plenty of reasons why it could be happening.
Here’s a look at 20 reasons why your face could be dry – and how to help to get rid of dry skin.
- Overly Hot Showers
Although it’s tempting to start or end your day with a steaming hot shower, too much hot water and soap can dry out the skin. Overly hot water can strip the skin of its natural oils and lead to red, dry skin. Turn down the temperature and try to limit showers to 10 minutes or so.
- Extreme Temperature Fluctuations
In the depths of winter, our skin is subjected to huge temperature fluctuations as we move from dry, warm indoors to the cold outdoors. The shock of the temperature difference can cause flare ups of chapped, inflamed skin.
- You’re Skipping Night Cream
Some people may want to go to bed bare faced to let their skin breathe at night but our skin kicks into repair mode while you sleep. Before you go to bed, slather on a rich cream and let it soak in for a full eight hours to get all its moisturizing benefits.
- Your Cleanser Is Too Harsh
Anyone with dry or sensitive skin should choose a gentle cleanser, such as a cleansing balm or an oil. Otherwise a cleanser that is too strong could strip the skin of its oils. Choose a cleanser that has the right pH balance for your skin. There’s no need to wash your face again in the morning; a splash of water is enough.
- Over Exfoliating
One of the biggest causes of dry skin is exfoliating too much. While just about everyone can benefit from some removal of dead skin cells, over doing it damages the skin’s moisture barrier which leads to irritation and dryness, as well as peeling.
- Not Enough Exfoliation
Too much exfoliation can lead to problems but so can not enough exfoliation. If you have dead, flaky skin on the surface, you’ll want to get rid of it and start fresh. Anyone with super sensitive skin can just use a washcloth, or try a very gentle exfoliation with glycolic acid or lactic acid. A rice powder is also very gentle.
- The Sun
You know you should wear sunscreen. Every. Single. Day. But just in case you aren’t, here’s one more reason to do it. Sun exposure in any climate can help dry out the skin and shrivel up those all important oils that keep it soft and supple. Choose a moisturizer with a high SPF for daily use or buy a translucent mineral powder SPF that you can brush on top of your makeup.
- Skipping Face Oil
You may be nervous about adding a face oil to your routine in case it causes a breakout or leaves you looking too shiny. But a face oil is a great way to keep the dry skin at bay. Just add a few drops to your regular night cream and let it soak in and work its hydrating magic.
- Piling On the Products
Although it’s important to take care of your skin, there can be too much of a good thing when it comes to products. If you’re layering on retinols, AHAs and BHAS plus adding a manual exfoliation with a cleansing brush, the combination can damage the skin’s barrier and lead to irritation and dryness. Pare down your routine to the essentials and don’t over do it with the strong stuff.
- It’s Genetic
We hate to be the bearer of bad news but for some people, dry skin is simply down to genetics. If that is the case, be extra diligent about applying a rich moisturizer twice a day. Look out for ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides and glycerin to hydrate skin and lock in moisture.
- You May Be Indulging Too Much
Dehydration can also contribute to dry skin, so take a look at what you’re drinking as caffeine and alcohol are both diuretics. It’s best to keep these limited. Or a rule of thumb to follow is that for every cup of coffee or cocktail you consume, follow it with a glass of water.
- Don’t Forget A Humidifier
No matter how much moisturizer you put on your face, it’s also helpful to add moisture to the air. Buy a humidifier to maximize the amount of water in the air, especially in the bedroom where you’ll be spending the most amount of your time. Opt for a cool air humidifier. In a pinch, you can place a bowl of water on top of a radiator.
- Know When to Moisturize
What you apply on you face is just as important as when you apply it. One of the best times to apply face cream is when the skin is slightly damp after a shower or cleansing; this helps to lock in moisture. Post toner is also a good time to apply a moisturizer.
- Add A Serum
For extra hydration, add a few drops of serum to your morning and night time routine. A serum penetrates deeper into the skin than a moisturizer and can help seal in moisture. Choose one packed with humectants, which retain and draw moisture in, such as vitamin E, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3.
- You’re Not Getting Eight Glasses a Day
There’s a difference between dry skin and dehydrated skin, which is why it’s important to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Remember that many different types of liquids can count towards your quota, so reach for herbal teas or make lemon infused water.
- Medication is Behind It
Certain medications may dry out your skin, whether they are topical ones such as retinol or benzoyl peroxide, or oral medications. Some prescription medications, such as those designed for blood pressure and cholesterol, are also known to dry out skin. Medication that works as a diuretic may also contribute to dry skin. Speak to your doctor about any concerns.
- You Didn’t Switch Your Face Cream With The Seasons
Just as your wardrobe needs to be switched out seasonally, so does your face cream. In the summer a lightweight gel may be all you need but if you live in a place with cold, harsh winters, you’ll need to swap it out for something heavier and richer in the winter.
- Don’t Skip The Healthy Fats
You are what you eat, so you want to make sure you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet. Make sure you are adding foods with nutrient rich, healthy fats such as salmon, mackerel, nuts and avocado. These beauty superfoods are thought to help boost the skin’s moisture levels.
- You Don’t Have an Evening Skincare Routine
Consistency and layering products are the cornerstones of any good skincare routine. To help prevent dry skin, take care of your skin before you hop into bed. After cleansing, apply a hydrating serum as well as a thick, rich night cream and don’t forget the eye area as well as the neck and décolleté.
- Skin Disease
If you suffer from atopic dermatitis, psoriasis or eczema, dry, flaky skin is a hallmark of these conditions. See your doctor to discuss remedies.