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Skincare tips for dry skin, according to dermatology providers

Discover the right routine and products to help keep dry skin soft, supple, and healthy.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Apr 9, 2024 • 11 min read
Medically reviewed by Elise Griffin, PA-C
Skincare for dry skin
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Apr 9, 2024 • 11 min read
Medically reviewed by Elise Griffin, PA-C
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

In this article

What is dry skin?
More

Managing dry skin may feel like a never-ending battle against itchiness, flakiness, tightness, and perpetually dull skin. While the lack of sufficient moisture is the main driver of dry skin, the skin condition has multiple causes. Failing to identify the root cause behind your condition may frustrate your effort to hydrate your skin and keep it soft, supple, and glowing.

The key to overcoming dry skin and reclaiming a youthful look is to build a skincare routine with quality products containing hydrating ingredients that help strengthen the skin barrier.

Dig in as Curology’s team of licensed dermatology providers detail the causes of dehydrated skin, highlight the best skin routine for dry skin types, and help you pick the best skincare products for dry skin.

What is dry skin?

Dry skin is a condition that results when the skin doesn’t have enough moisture to keep it soft and supple. Tight, rough patches characterize dry sensitive skin, and it may look flaky and scaly. In severe cases, dry skin may crack and bleed.

What causes dry skin?

Dry skin can be caused by a number of factors, including growing older, skin disorders, and even the products you use.¹ Below, we break down some of the most common reasons why you may have dry skin:

Aging

You’re likely to grapple with dehydrated skin as you age because there’s a significant drop in the sebum levels in the body, and the skin produces significantly less sebum after the age of 40.² Sebum is a natural oil that keeps the human skin soft and youthful.³

Skin diseases

Dry skin is a common symptom of many skin diseases like contact dermatitis, psoriasis, and eczema.⁴ For example, atopic dermatitis is a recurring skin disorder characterized by dry, itchy skin.⁵ It’s the most common form of inflammatory skin disease, causing skin redness, inflammation, and irritation.⁶ The skin becomes very itchy, and scratching only worsens the condition.

Harsh skincare products

Harsh skincare products may strip your skin of its natural oils and compromise its natural protective barrier.⁷ Certain products may also increase the rate of water evaporation through the skin, lower the skin hydration levels, and negatively impact the skin pH.⁸ This makes it more difficult for the skin to control and regulate moisture and water loss, saddling you with dry skin.

Inclement weather

Extreme winter cold impairs the skin’s ability to retain moisture and can impair the skin barrier function.⁹ The winter cold lowers the amount of ceramides in the skin. Dropping ceramide levels weakens your skin barrier, leading to increased moisture loss and dehydrated skin.¹⁰

Combatting dry skin: Best practices and routines

The best skincare routine for dry skin revolves around minimizing water loss and restoring the skin barrier. Here we go over some of the best practices when it comes to preventing dry skin and treating it should it arise:

Avoid products with harsh ingredients

Some cleansers contain harsh surfactants that may damage your skin proteins and lipids.¹¹ They can also strip away the skin’s natural oil and destroy your skin barrier, leading to irritation and potential skin inflammation.

Improve your skincare regime

Building a consistent skincare routine with the right products can help you manage and improve dry skin.¹² Using a gentle moisturizer and cleanser twice daily can help reduce skin dryness and itchiness and improve skin texture.¹³ Skin cleansers help unclog the pores to improve skin health, while moisturizers often contain humectants that improve your skin’s ability to attract and retain moisture.

Add emollients and occlusives

Emollients are topical moisturizing treatments. Using an emollient on top of a moisturizer may reduce dry skin severity, itchiness, and the frequency of skin flare-ups. Occlusives soothe and hydrate dry skin by forming a protective film that traps moisture and increases hydration levels.¹⁴

Shower with less hot water

Showering with hot water may damage your skin and lower its water-holding capacity.¹⁵ Exposure to hot water may also strip the natural oils from your skin and disrupt the skin barrier, which may exacerbate dry skin.¹⁶

Wear sunscreen

Besides protecting your skin from harmful UV rays, sunscreen* may also help improve skin barrier function.¹⁷ Due to the compromised skin barrier function and decreased lipid content, people with dry skin should always wear sunscreen for extra protection.

Daytime skincare routine for dry skin

A daytime skincare routine can help hydrate your dry skin and help it maintain a moisture balance while protecting it from environmental factors that may accelerate dehydration. Building a daytime skin routine around products with hydrating properties is beneficial.

Cleanser: Cleansing your face first thing in the morning leaves you feeling fresh while removing any dirt and oil that may clog your pores throughout the day. The best skin cleansers are formulated to cleanse without stripping skin. Stick to a gentle cleanser with hydrating ingredients.

Moisturizer: Moisturizers increase hydration by delivering moisturizing ingredients to the skin. You should always moisturize your dry skin at the start of your day. The best products for dry skin include moisturizers that contain hyaluronic acid, which acts like a sponge that attracts and holds water in the skin to keep your skin firm and hydrated.¹⁸

Sunscreen: When you have dry skin, your skin barrier is likely compromised leaving you vulnerable to sun damage. Applying sunscreen protects the skin from harmful UV rays and help prevent further skin damage.¹⁹ Stick to a sunscreen with an SPF factor of at least 30 for the best results.

Nighttime skin routine for dry skin

A nighttime routine for dry skin lets you clean, nourish, and replenish dry skin while you sleep. It allows you to cleanse your face and remove the oils, dirt, makeup, and sweat accumulated on your face during the day. The best nighttime routine products hydrate, repair, and strengthen your skin’s moisture barrier while you rest and rejuvenate.

Cleansing oil: Using a cleaning oil instead of a makeup remover can help reduce scaling, dryness, and itchiness, even in people with skin diseases like atopic dermatitis.²⁰ Cleansing oils have better cleaning ability than most makeup removers, so you won’t need to rub your face aggressively while removing your makeup.²¹

Hydrating cleanser: Hydrating cleansers are designed to cleanse the skin while restoring skin hydration. Using specially developed skincare products can help you avoid causing impaired skin barrier function.²² A hydrating cleanser can normalize skin pH, restore skin hydration, and create a healthy skin biome.²³

Hyaluronic acid: Hyaluronic acid is an excellent moisturizing agent because it can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water to provide deep skin hydration.²⁴ To maximize efficiency, you should apply a hyaluronic acid-containing product, such as Curology’s Cream Moisturizer, on damp skin.

Moisturize: Layering a moisturizing cream helps hydrate the skin to keep it soft and supple. It also locks in the other dry skin treatments. Moisturizing products are an essential treatment for dry skin because they contain ingredients like humectants to help prevent skin dryness and replenish moisture.

The 5 best skincare products for dry skin

Here are some of our favorite skincare products to help you manage and overcome dry skin:

1. Curology Gel Moisturizer

Lightweight and buildable, Curology’s Gel Moisturizer is specially formulated with quality humectants such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin to deeply hydrate your skin. It’s non-greasy and non-fragrant to complement other products in your skincare regimen while giving you smooth, supple skin. It’s an ideal choice if you want an affordable but high-end dry skin product for daily use.

2. Curology Gentle Cleanser

Wash away dirt and excess oil without stripping skin or clogging pores with the Cleanser. The lightly foaming, gel texture is made for all skin types but is especially loved by those with sensitive skin.

3. Curology Cream Moisturizer

Powered by 6 key ingredients, the Cream Moisturizer offers a rich boost of hydration—helping restore your skin barrier, without clogging your pores.

4. Curology Barrier Balm

Meet Barrier Balm—a versatile, non-greasy treatment that protects dry, sensitive skin from irritation, while promoting a healthy skin barrier. Barrier Balm’s silky, acne-friendly formula cocoons the skin with three key moisturizers (humectants, emollients, and occlusives) to promote a healthy skin barrier.

5. Cetaphil Rich Hydrating Night Cream

The Rich Hydrating Cream is an ideal choice when you need round-the-clock protection for dry skin. The hydrating cream is specially formulated with hyaluronic acid to nourish your skin while keeping it hydrated for 24 hours. It’s the perfect addition to your nightly skincare routine as it’s hypoallergenic and defends your skin against dryness, irritation, tightness, and roughness.

The key takeaways

  • Dry skin is a skin condition that results when the skin has a moisture deficiency, often due to a compromised skin barrier function.

  • Common causes of dry skin include aging, diseases, poor skincare routine, and exposure to inclement weather.

  • Having a dedicated night and daytime skincare routine can help you treat dry skin.

  • A nighttime skincare routine for dry skin should generally include cleansing oils, hydrating cleansers, and moisturizing creams to hydrate, repair, and strengthen the skin.

  • A daytime skincare routine for dry skin should include cleansers, serums, moisturizers, and sunscreen to moisturize the skin and protect against environmental factors. The best skincare products for dry skin contain a blend of ingredients that hydrate the skin while restoring the skin barrier.

Reclaim your beautiful, radiant skin with Curology

Managing dry skin can prove challenging because the condition damages your skin’s natural barrier. Combating dry skin requires you to build an excellent skincare routine with hydrating products that nourish and hydrate your skin while repairing and strengthening your skin barrier.

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

curology bottle
curology bottle

If you’re struggling to manage dry skin and keep it healthy, supple, and glowing, the dermatological experts at Curology can help. Our licensed dermatology providers can assess your skin to determine your needs and prescribe a personalized formula** to help you reclaim your healthy, radiant skin.

FAQs

How can I hydrate my skin fast?

Using products that contain humectants such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin can help you quickly rehydrate dry skin. Hyaluronic acid is a hydrating agent that holds up to 1,000 times its weight in water. It also helps your skin attract and retain moisture, leaving it appearing plump and hydrated. Glycerin locks water in the skin’s outer layer to maximize moisture levels.

What is the best natural remedy for dry skin?

Certain plant oils, including jojoba oils, make a good option for a natural remedy for dry skin because they're not only moisturizing but also help repair the skin barrier.²⁵ When applied topically, certain plant oils can form a protective barrier on the skin to lock in moisture and prevent water loss. Some plant oils have anti-inflammatory properties and can help protect your skin against oxidative stress and skin aging.

How can I fix my dry face at home?

You can fix a dry face at home by building an effective daytime and nighttime skincare routine with quality products that include cleansing oils, serums, and moisturizers formulated for dry skin.

How can I make my face glow with dry skin?

Switching to moisturizing products such as the Gel Moisturizer from Curology can help hydrate your skin and give your face a radiant glow. Besides taking care of your skin, eating healthy, balanced meals, adopting a healthy lifestyle, drinking plenty of water, and enjoying quality sleep may also help give your skin a radiant glow.

• • •

P.S. We did the homework so you don’t have to:

  1. Gade, A., et al. Xeroderma. StatPearls. (2023, October 29).

  2. American Academy of Dermatological Association. Dry Skin: Who Gets and Causes. (n.d.).

  3. American Academy of Dermatological Association. Dry Skin: Who Gets and Causes. Ibid.

  4. Gade, A., et al. Xeroderma. StatPearls. Ibid.

  5. Ständer, S. Atopic Dermatitis. The New England Journal of Medicine. (2021, March 24).

  6. Kolb, L. and Ferrer-Bruker, S.J. Atopic Dermatitis. StatPearls. (2023, August 8).

  7. Li, Z., et al. Skin care products can aggravate epidermal function: studies in a murine model suggest a pathogenic role in sensitive skin. Contact Dermatitis. (2017, November 20).

  8. Li, Z., et al. Skin care products can aggravate epidermal function: studies in a murine model suggest a pathogenic role in sensitive skin. Contact Dermatitis. Ibid.

  9. Ishikawa, J., et al. Dry skin in the winter is related to the ceramide profile in the stratum corneum and can be improved by treatment with a Eucalyptus extract. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. (March 2013).

  10. Ishikawa, J., et al. Dry skin in the winter is related to the ceramide profile in the stratum corneum and can be improved by treatment with a Eucalyptus extract. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. Ibid.

  11. Ananthapadmanabhan, K.P., et al. Cleansing without compromise: the impact of cleansers on the skin barrier and the technology of mild cleansing. Dermatol Ther. (2004, January 21).

  12. Kim, S., et al. A consistent skin care regimen leads to objective and subjective improvements in dry human skin: investigator-blinded randomized clinical trial. Journal of Dermatological Treatment. (2021, June 22).

  13. Kim, S., et al. A consistent skin care regimen leads to objective and subjective improvements in dry human skin: investigator-blinded randomized clinical trial. Journal of Dermatological Treatment. Ibid.

  14. Zuuren, E.J., et al. Emollients and moisturisers for eczema. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. (2017, February 6).

  15. Herrero-Fernandez, M., et al. Impact of Water Exposure and Temperature Changes on Skin Barrier Function. Journal of Clinical Medicine. (2022, January 7).

  16. Herrero-Fernandez, M., et al. Impact of Water Exposure and Temperature Changes on Skin Barrier Function. Journal of Clinical Medicine. Ibid.

  17. Gonzalez-Bravo, A., et al. The Effect of Sunscreens on the Skin Barrier. Life. (2022, December 12).

  18. Juncan, A.M., et al. Development and Evaluation of a Novel Anti-Ageing Cream Based on Hyaluronic Acid and Other Innovative Cosmetic Actives. Polymers. (2023, October 18).

  19. Hailun, H., et al. Natural components in sunscreens: Topical formulations with sun protection factor (SPF). Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy. (February 2021).

  20. Hosokawa, K., et al. Rubbing the skin when removing makeup cosmetics is a major factor that worsens skin conditions in atopic dermatitis patients. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. (2020, October 26).

  21. Hosokawa, K., et al. Rubbing the skin when removing makeup cosmetics is a major factor that worsens skin conditions in atopic dermatitis patients. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. Ibid.

  22. Baldwin, H., et al. Evidence of Barrier Deficiency in Rosacea and the Importance of Integrating OTC Skincare Products into Treatment Regimens. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology. (2021, April 1).

  23. Baldwin, H., et al. Evidence of Barrier Deficiency in Rosacea and the Importance of Integrating OTC Skincare Products into Treatment Regimens. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology. Ibid.

  24. Bukhari, S.N.A., et al. Hyaluronic acid, a promising skin rejuvenating biomedicine: A review of recent updates and pre-clinical and clinical investigations on cosmetic and nutricosmetic effects. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules. (December 2018).

  25. Lin, T.K., et al. Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. (2017, December 27).

Elise Griffin is a certified physician assistant at Curology. She received her Master of Medical Science in physician assistant studies from Nova Southeastern University in Jacksonville, FL.

*PSA for your future skin: sunscreen alone cannot prevent all UV damage.

**Cancel anytime. Subject to consultation. Results may vary. Restrictions apply. See website for full details and important safety information.

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Elise Griffin, Physician Assistant Curology

Elise Griffin, PA-C

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