With a compromised barrier and lack of nourishment, dry skin conditions can worsen over time if not taken care of. Add to it external environmental influences and an unhealthy lifestyle, and you have a dermis that’s begging for attention. For anyone with itchy and lacklustre dry skin, following a skincare regimen comprising hydrating and moisturising products is imperative.
The largest organ in the human body, our skin needs to be treated with utmost care irrespective of its type. Each skin type has its issues and therefore requires to be managed accordingly — be it through medical treatments or topical application of products. As for dry, itchy, and irritated skin, products formulated with moisturising and soothing ingredients are a saviour.
What characterises the dry skin type?
Characterised by a dull and rough texture and a scaly or flaky look, dry skin is medically termed Xeroderma. It is a skin type that produces less sebum than normal skin and lacks the lipids (ceramides and fatty acids) required to retain moisture and build a protective and healthy barrier function. As a result, the skin looks dehydrated, undernourished and feels less elastic.
Additionally, dry skin often feels tight, itchy and irritated with visible fine lines. Hence, it requires significant moisturisation for a hydrated, plump look. In extreme cases, dry patches, skin peeling and a cracked (dry-riverbed) look can appear.
Causes of dry skin include lack of moisture, loss of water in the form of perspiration and trans-epidermal water loss (skin’s natural process of diffusing water from the layers of the skin). However, other factors such as ageing, weather and environmental conditions, use of harsh or alcohol-based beauty products, excessive scrubbing, medical history and genetics can also act as contributors.
How to manage dry skin
Generally, this skin type can be managed at home by adopting natural remedies and using moisturising skincare products designed to target dry skin concerns. Increasing your water intake and eating healthy, balanced meals further help. However, for extreme skin conditions including scaling and peeling, consider consulting a dermatologist.
- If you have dry skin, avoid using hot water for your showers and instead opt for tepid water. Avoid longer baths and limit the duration to five to 10 minutes. Use gentle and moisturising cleansers and body washes (or soaps) that are free from artificial fragrances and alcohol content.
- Use moisturisers, body lotions, ointments and creams to keep your skin nourished all day. Apply several times throughout the day, especially after washing your face or hands, but never skip it.
- In winter, use a humidifier at home to maintain the moisture levels of the air indoors, replenishing the top layer of your skin as a result.
- Wear fabrics such as cotton and silk that feel comfortable on the skin and are non-irritant.
- As a natural remedy, you can apply kitchen ingredients in the form of face packs or as it is. Some of the most common ones include coconut oil, honey, milk, aloe vera, sunflower seed oil and olive oil.
How to choose the best moisturisers for dry skin?
Below are a few factors that you must consider while choosing products for dry skin.
Formula and texture
Dry and irritated skin benefits from thicker and more nourishing formulas as they tend to be more hydrating. Whether you’re investing in a cleanser or a body wash, creamier or milk-based consistencies can be a boon.
Having said that, you don’t need to rule out gel-based formulas. Quite a few products with such formulations specifically cater to dry skin. This makes them a good pick for summer months owing to their lightweight and quick-absorbing texture.
Always choose products formulated with hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, barrier-repairing ceramides, vitamins E and C, lanolin, urea, petrolatum and glycerin. You can also look for natural nourishing ingredients such as shea butter, coconut oil, argan oil, jojoba oil, aloe vera, avocado, honey and milk in the formula.
What to avoid
If you have dry and sensitive skin that feels itchy and irritated, avoid beauty products that have alcohol or artificial fragrances and dyes in them. Other components to avoid include harmful chemicals such as sulphates, parabens, phthalates, lead and formaldehyde.
When choosing makeup products such as foundation or primer, opt for products that have a dewy and hydrating or a comfortable and velvet matte finish. This is because dry and flaky skin makes for a difficult base for makeup application resulting in an uneven texture and products settling in rough patches and fine lines.
Check out the best beauty products and moisturisers to pamper your dry skin with
Cleansing is the first step of a skincare routine and is hence, unskippable irrespective of the skin type. When looking for a face wash for dry skin, a mild and gentle cleanser with a cream-based texture would be the ideal choice. Such face washes thoroughly clean the skin without stripping it of its natural oils and moisture.
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While exfoliation is an important skincare step for people with dry skin, choosing between manual and chemical exfoliation is the key. Chemical exfoliants or peels comprising AHAs like glycolic acid are ideal for this skin type. However, if you prefer using a body or a face scrub, ensure that it is gentle. It should not be formulated with walnut or coconut shell powder and contain sugar crystals or jojoba beads instead.
You can apply an exfoliator up to twice a week.
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Some of the best toners for dry and itchy skin are hydrating and free from any alcohol content and artificial fragrances. They should also contain nourishing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin while their consistency can be both water-based or slightly milky.
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Enriching your skin with the goodness of hydrating and barrier-repairing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides, vitamin C and other essential components, face serums can work wonders for dry skin. Being lightweight and quick to absorb, they seep into the deepest layers of the skin easily to tackle the conditions they’re meant to target.
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Face and sheet masks can provide that extra dose of moisturisation to the skin and therefore, should definitely be a part of your skincare regimen. They’re also a great go-to for times when your skin demands an instant boost of hydration and a radiant glow.
Moreover, sleeping face masks deliver ample nourishment and replenish your dry skin overnight.
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You might opt for the most hydrating skincare products for your dry and itchy skincare routine but nothing can replace a rich and nourishing moisturiser. There are three types of moisturisers — humectants (water-based, known for attracting moisture to the skin), emollients (oil-based, designed to repair skin lipids and nourish the skin) and occlusives (wax or oil-based, act as a physical barrier to prevent water loss). Often you’ll find a mix of two or all three of them in a single formula as they work best when paired together. While emollients work best if you have a compromised skin barrier, humectants ensure hydration and occlusives are beneficial for heels, elbows or eczema.
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Sunscreen is a must in every skincare routine irrespective of the skin type. While you should choose one with broad-spectrum SPF 30 or above, you should also consider the other ingredients in its formulation.
For those with dry and sensitive skin, a sunscreen that contains nourishing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides, vitamin E and other such constituents would be ideal.
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Primer is the unsung hero of a flawless makeup application. Often overlooked, it makes for an essential makeup step that creates a smooth and even base for the rest of your makeup to hold on to. It not only evens out fine lines and pores but also makes your makeup last longer.
And for someone who has rough, patchy and uneven texture, a primer for dry and itchy skin that also acts as an additional layer of hydration is a must.
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The key to achieving the perfect base makeup is to find a foundation that’s compatible with your skin and its texture. A foundation that isn’t appropriate for your skin type can settle into your fine lines and pores and further dry out the rough, scaly patches. This means that the best foundation for dry skin is the one that has hydrating properties and moisture-attracting humectants to keep your skin from drying out and the base cracking.
Formulas that glide onto your skin easily leaving a smooth dewy or velvet matte finish make for an ideal choice.
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Face and body oils
Face and body oils have a myriad of benefits for the skin. Besides moisturising dry skin deeply, they also help in maintaining the overall health of the epidermal layer, especially if they’re formulated with skin-concern-specific ingredients.
Body and face oils crafted for dry skin are usually formulated with antioxidants and barrier-nourishing components that also enhance skin elasticity and repair rough, damaged skin.
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The job of a body lotion or body cream is the same as that of a face cream. It helps in keeping your skin hydrated and nourished, locking in moisture, supporting the skin’s natural barrier and lending a soft and supple feel to it.
If you have extremely dry skin, you can also use body butter as they have a richer and creamier texture than a lotion and are consequently more moisturising.
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(Prices of the products mentioned in the story are subject to change.)
(Hero and featured image credit: Fleur Kaan/Unsplash)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Answer: Yes, you can use a facial toner on dry skin. However, it is essential that you choose one that is alcohol-free and is instead formulated with hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, allantoin, glycerin, chamomile and aloe.
Answer: No, foam-based cleansers aren’t meant for dry and itchy skin. Gentle cream-based cleansers are ideal for people with flaky and dehydrated skin.
Answer: Yes, face exfoliation helps keep dry skin smooth, nourished and free from dead skin. While using chemical exfoliants such as glycolic acid makes for a safe option, you can also try physical exfoliation (face scrub) if it’s gentle and contains jojoba beads, sugar crystals or coffee powder instead of nut shells and seeds.
Answer: If you have dry skin, ensure that your makeup products are formulated with hydrating and moisturising ingredients such as ceramides, hyaluronic acid, aloe, jojoba oil and vitamin E. You can look for products that have a creamy consistency, smooth texture and lend a dewy, luminous finish.
Answer: In general, you should wash your face with a cleanser at least twice a day. However, if your skin is too sensitive, flaky or itchy, it can further strip your skin barrier and cause irritation. In such cases, washing your face only during your nighttime skincare routine is ideal. Additionally, you should use a gentle and cream-based face wash that is non-drying and contains hydrating ingredients.
Answer: Yes, nourishing face masks and sheet masks will make for a great addition to your skincare routine if you have dry skin. They act as an extra layer of hydration and further boost the skin’s moisture.
Answer: To manage your dry skin in winter avoid long, hot showers and use lukewarm water instead. Use moisturisers and hydrating ointment creams whenever the skin feels dry and tight and adopt a proper winter skincare regimen and be consistent with it. Indulge in gentle exfoliation of skin once or twice a week and do not skip the sunscreen.
Answer: In general, lifestyle changes and nourishing skincare products can help manage dry skin. However, you should consult a dermatologist if the symptoms and signs of your skin’s condition persist or worsens, your skin feels and looks inflamed, you have scaly or peeling skin or if it is making you uncomfortable and causing a hindrance in your daily activities.