How to Treat & Prevent Dry, Flaky Skin

Hyaluronic Acid
Skin Care
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Whether you're an occasional dry skin type or all-year-round sufferer, one thing is for sure: you should fix it asap. Dry skin feels merely uncomfortable, tight, wrinkles are more visible and can be flakey and red. Not even makeup plays nicely with dry skin. No matter how you look at it, dry skin is stressful, so to help you, we've come up with the best ways to treat dry skin and prevent further dryness. Read on to get enlightened and live your best dryness-free life as we're getting into the full rundown of causes, signs of dry skin, and the best skincare for dry face. 

Why is My Skin So Dry?

As Shari Marchbein, MD, a board-certified dermatologist with Downtown Dermatology in New York City says, "Dry skin is caused by an impaired skin barrier and dysfunction or deficiency in the necessary healthy fats in the top layer of the skin." [1] FYI, the protective barrier is the top skin layer, consisting of lipids, like cholesterol, ceramides, and fatty acids. When the barrier is damaged, you know you're dealing with dry skin. The thing is, the barrier's main function is to prevent transepidermal water loss (TEWL), and if compromised, you lose moisture from the skin faster than a wink of an eye.[2] Besides, skin becomes susceptible to external aggressors when the barrier is weakened. Simply put, maintaining a robust protective barrier should be your main priority to achieve resilient, moist skin. 

Fairly, skin becomes dryer with age and loss of essential proteins that give skin moisture and resilience. Nevertheless, lots of foes can dry your skin. Heat, either indoor heating or sun exposure, are two major culprits that deplete the skin of natural moisture. By the same token, cold weather draws moisture away from the skin; that's why it tends to be dryer in winter. Or you're the one who induces dryness. I know you love them, but all those long hot baths strip the skin's natural oils. Also, too much exfoliation or harsh skincare products can strip away moisture from your skin, drying it.

Signs of Dry Skin

You know when your skin is dry. It always looks dull, feels tight, and might flake to the point it cracks and is itchy. Plus, it never feels comfortable, and whenever you plan to apply makeup, it seems more of a bad idea as chances are, it'll look cakey and off.

The signs of dry skin include:

  • Rough texture
  • Redness
  • Itchiness
  • Peeling and flaking
  • Noticeable fine lines
  • Irritations

The Best Skincare Routine for Dry Skin

When skin is dry, your routine should be tailored to restore hydration and prevent further moisture loss. And here we're teaching you how to do it the best skincare routine for dry skin to take back what is yours: a glowy, hydrated complexion. 

Before anything, quit using all those skincare products filled with drying alcohol, fragrances, and other ingredients that strip moisture from the skin. Always say pass to salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and SLSs.

Cleanser? Opt for a non-foaming formula that aims to moisturize skin, cream, or balm will do best. Some rumors say dry skin can skip cleansing in the morning, but no. Not removing the bacteria accumulated on the skin during the night and the products you've applied in your PM routine won't do you any good. 

Pro tip: Use a pH-balancing toner before slathering on the serum. While the skin is still damp, it better absorbs what you apply, intensifying the benefits — a blessing for dry skin. 

Your serum should focus on humectants, like hyaluronic acid and glycerin. They help draw moisture to the surface and retain water, the key to keeping skin hydrated. Barrier strengthening elements like ceramides, peptides, squalane must also be on your radar. Or, for dramatic results, you can appeal to intensive treatment with supercharged ampoules we can't get enough of Babor Hydra Plus Ampoule Serum Concentrates, a 7-day hydration replenisher, a special treat for dry skin.

Next, you need a rich, thick, moisture-trapping moisturizer. You may have heard about occlusives and emollients, the heroes for dry skin. Occlusives are oily and waxy agents that form a veil on the skin's surface to hinder TEWL and encourage barrier recovery. The best examples are petrolatum, shea butter, argan, jojoba, and olive oils. On the flip side, emollients (fatty acids, lipids, oils, and butters) aid in softening and repairing cracks. Is there an ingredient that does both? Yep, squalane is an occlusive emollient, chock full of fatty acids that replenish lipids in the skin exactly what you need. We bet on Biossance Squalane + Omega Repair Cream, loaded with shea butter, ceramides, sodium hyaluronate, and vitamin E, the MVPs for preventing water loss and repairing dry skin.

Oh, exfoliation, the tricky part. Exfoliating dry skin is a two-edged sword. Not doing it can allow dead cells buildup, flakes, and impurities make your complexion look dull, and overdoing it might dry the skin even more. It's just that dry skin needs a gentle exfoliator — spoiler: lactic acid. Lactic acid, the mildest among AHAs, acts delicately on the skin thanks to its large molecule that doesn't allow it to penetrate the skin, hence working less aggressively. But that's not it. Lactic acid has humectant benefits, too, meaning it pulls water into the skin, bursting hydration. The moral of the story? Exfoliation is not a mined territory for dry skin, just that you need a delicate exfoliant once or twice a week and never use physical exfoliators on the face.

Find the Best Skincare Products for Dry Skin at Exponent

At Exponent, our mission is to set a new standard for effective skincare so you can cut through the clutter and choose products that actually work. We compiled a list of the best skincare products for dry skin from a bunch of products we've clinically tested. And stay tuned; soon, you'll have access to the first self-activated skincare line. Here's to skincare that's active, not acting.


  • Everyday Health, 10 Surprising Causes of Dry Skin. Source
  • Grubauer G, Elias PM, Feingold KR. Transepidermal water loss: the signal for recovery of barrier structure and function. J Lipid Res. March 1989. Source


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