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The Ultimate Guide to Beautiful, Hydrated Skin: How to Treat Dry Skin on Face

Medically reviewed by:
 Dr. Lucy Chen, MD – Board-Certified Dermatologist

Dr. Lucy Chen, MD – Board-Certified Dermatologist

Dr. Lucy Chen, MD, is a highly regarded board-certified dermatologist with a wealth of expertise in skin health, surgical dermatology, and cosmetic dermatology. She is known for her commitment to patient care and her dedication to advancing the field of dermatology. Her journey is marked by academic excellence, specialized training, and a genuine dedication to […]

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By: Christina Davies
Updated on: April 05, 2024

Dry skin on the face can be a frustrating and uncomfortable condition to deal with. It can leave your skin feeling tight, rough, and flaky, possibly leading to itchiness and redness. However, with the right knowledge and skincare routine, you can effectively treat and manage dry and flaky skin, revealing a radiant and hydrated complexion. This comprehensive guide will explore various methods and techniques to help you address dry skin on your face and achieve healthy, glowing skin.

Understanding Dry Skin

Dry skin is common when your skin lacks moisture and essential oils, leading to an impaired skin barrier. Several factors contribute to the development of dry skin on the face, including environmental factors, genetics, aging, and certain medical conditions.

Causes of Dry Skin

  1. Environmental Factors: Exposure to low humidity levels, cold weather, dry air, or harsh winds can strip the skin of its natural oils and moisture, contributing to dryness.
  2. Genetics: Some individuals are genetically predisposed to having naturally drier skin. This can be due to gene variations responsible for producing moisturizing substances in the skin.
  3. Aging: As we age, the skin undergoes changes that can result in reduced oil production and decreased ability to retain moisture. This makes older individuals more prone to dry skin.
  4. Overwashing or Harsh Cleansers: Frequent washing with hot water or harsh soaps and cleansers can disrupt the skin’s natural balance, leading to dryness.
  5. Certain Medical Conditions: Dry skin can be a symptom of underlying medical conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, thyroid disorders, and diabetes. These conditions can affect the skin’s ability to retain moisture.

Symptoms of Dry Skin

  1. Tightness or Discomfort: Dry skin often feels tight, especially after washing or exposure to dry environments. This discomfort can be exacerbated by movement or facial expressions.
  2. Flakiness and Rough Texture: Dry skin may appear rough, flaky, or scaly. These dry patches can be more noticeable on the cheeks, forehead, and around the nose.
  3. Redness and Inflammation: Dry skin can become inflamed, leading to redness and irritation. In severe cases, cracks or fissures may develop, causing pain and increasing the risk of infection.
  4. Itching and Irritation: Dry skin is often accompanied by itching, which can be intense and persistent. Scratching can further damage the skin’s protective barrier, worsening the condition.
  5. Fine Lines and Wrinkles: Prolonged dryness can contribute to the development of fine lines and wrinkles and an overall dull appearance of the skin.

Skincare Routine for Dry Skin

Establishing a proper skincare routine is essential for treating dry skin. Here are some key steps to include in your daily skincare routine:

1) Cleansing: The First Step to Hydration

Start your skincare routine with a gentle cleanser that doesn’t strip away natural oils from your skin. Look for a mild, hydrating cleanser that removes dirt and impurities without causing further dryness. Opt for cleansers with ingredients like glycerin or ceramides, as they help to make skin retain moisture well.

2) Exfoliation: Removing Dead Skin Cells

Exfoliation is essential in any skincare routine, including for dry skin. It helps to remove dead skin cells that can accumulate on the surface, relieve dry skin, make your skin appear dull, and prevent proper absorption of moisturizers. Choose a gentle exfoliant with ingredients like alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) or enzymes that effectively exfoliate without irritating.

3) Choosing the Right Moisturizer

A good natural moisturizer is a key component of a skincare routine for dry skin. Look for moisturizers that are specifically formulated for dry or sensitive skin types. Ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and shea butter provide intense hydration and help to repair the skin’s moisture barrier.

4) Incorporating Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid is a powerful ingredient for hydrating dry skin. It can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water, making it incredibly effective at retaining moisture in dry facial skin. Look for serums or moisturizers that contain hyaluronic acid to replenish your skin’s hydration levels.

5) Facial Oils for Extra Nourishment

Facial oils can provide an additional boost of nourishment for dry skin. They help seal moisture into the natural skin barrier and provide essential fatty acids that strengthen the skin’s natural barrier. Choose oils like jojoba oil, argan oil, or rosehip oil, known for their hydrating and antioxidant properties.

6) Hydrating Face Masks

Treat your skin to a weekly hydrating face mask for an intensive moisture boost. Look for masks that contain ingredients like aloe vera, honey, or hyaluronic acid. These masks help to soothe and hydrate the skin, leaving it plump, radiant and revitalized.

7) Protecting Your Skin from the Sun

Sun protection is crucial for maintaining healthy skin, especially dry skin types. Exposure to UV rays can further dehydrate the skin and accelerate signs of aging. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 every day, even on cloudy days, and reapply it every two hours when exposed to the sun.

8) Drinking Water for Internal Hydration

Hydrating your skin from the inside out is equally important. Drinking an adequate amount of water throughout the day helps to maintain your skin’s hydration levels. Aim for at least eight glasses of water daily to support overall skin health and combat dryness.

9) Avoiding Harsh Ingredients

Avoiding skincare products containing harsh ingredients when dealing with dry skin is crucial to prevent dry skin. Ingredients like alcohol, fragrances, and sulfates can strip away the skin’s natural oils and worsen dryness. Opt for gentle, fragrance-free products specifically formulated for dry and sensitive skin.

10) Avoiding Hot Water

Hot water can further dehydrate dry skin, so opt for lukewarm water when cleansing your face. Also, avoid harsh scrubbing or rubbing motions that irritate and damage the skin. Gently pat your skin dry with a soft towel instead of rubbing it vigorously.

11) Using a Toner to Restore pH Balance

After cleansing, use a hydrating toner to restore your skin’s pH balance and prepare it for the next steps of your skincare routine. Look for alcohol-free toners with rose water or witch hazel that hydrate and soothe the skin.

12) Applying a Moisturizing Eye Cream

The delicate skin around the eyes is often prone to dryness. Use a moisturizing eye cream or gel specifically formulated for the eye area. Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, peptides, or ceramides to hydrate and reduce the appearance of fine lines. Many of these make for the best eye creams for dark circles.

13) Overnight Hydration with Sleeping Masks or Night Creams

To maximize hydration while you sleep, incorporate a sleeping mask or a rich night cream into your routine. These products provide intense moisture and help repair the skin overnight. Look for ingredients like shea butter, squalane, or niacinamide for added hydration and nourishment.

14) Using a Humidifier in Dry Environments

If you live in a dry climate or spend much time in air-conditioned or heated environments, consider using a humidifier. A humidifier adds moisture to the air, which can help prevent your skin from drying out.

15) Regularly Reevaluating and Adjusting Your Routine

Lastly, remember that skincare needs can change over time, so it’s important to reevaluate your routine and regularly adjust as needed. Pay attention to how your skin responds to the products you’re using and make modifications accordingly.

“Your skin care regimen may also need to change according to seasons and where you live,” says Dr. Lucy Chen. “You may want to pick more moisturizing and thicker products in drier, colder climates and more gel-like products or serums in humid or warmer times of the year.”

Remember, consistency is key when it comes to skincare routines. Give your skin time to adjust to new products, and if you experience any irritation or discomfort, consult a dermatologist for personalized advice.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

When dealing with dry skin, it’s essential to avoid common mistakes that can worsen the skin condition further. Here are a few things to steer clear of:

  1. Over-cleansing: Washing your face too frequently or using harsh cleansers can strip away the natural oils from your skin, leading to dryness. Opt for a gentle cleanser and limit cleansing to twice a day.
  2. Hot water: Washing your face with hot water may feel comforting, but it can dehydrate your skin further. Use lukewarm water instead to avoid exacerbating dryness.
  3. Exfoliating too much: While exfoliation can be beneficial for removing dead skin cells, overdoing it can cause irritation and dryness. Limit exfoliation to once or twice a week, and choose a gentle exfoliator suitable for dry skin.
  4. Skipping moisturizer: Moisturizing is crucial for dry skin, as it helps to replenish lost moisture and create a protective barrier. Apply a rich, hydrating moisturizer after cleansing to keep your skin hydrated throughout the day.
  5. Ignoring sunscreen: Sunscreen is important for all skin types, including dry skin. UV rays can further damage and dehydrate your skin. Apply a moisturizing sunscreen with at least SPF 30 daily, even on cloudy days.
  6. Using harsh products: Avoid using skincare products that contain alcohol, fragrance, or other harsh ingredients. These can irritate and dry out your skin. Look for gentle, fragrance-free products formulated specifically for dry skin.
  7. Overheating your environment: Heated indoor spaces and exposure to central heating can worsen dry skin. Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air and avoid excessive heating. Additionally, protect your skin from extreme weather conditions by wearing a scarf or a hat in cold and windy environments.

FAQs About Treating Dry Skin on Face

1. How often should I moisturize my dry skin?

Moisturizing your skin at least twice daily is recommended for individuals with dry skin. Apply moisturizer in the morning and evening after cleansing your face.

2. Can dry skin cause acne breakouts?

Yes, dry skin can potentially lead to acne breakouts. When the skin is dry, it produces more oil to compensate for the lack of moisture, which can clog pores and result in breakouts. Therefore, it’s essential to keep your skin properly hydrated.

3. Are there any natural remedies for dry skin on the face?

Several natural remedies can help alleviate dry skin. Some options include applying aloe vera gel to cracked skin, using coconut oil as a moisturizer, or creating a homemade face mask using ingredients like honey and avocado.

4. Can diet affect dry skin?

Yes, your diet can impact the health and appearance of your skin. Consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats and staying adequately hydrated can promote skin hydration and improve dry skin conditions.

5. Should I avoid exfoliation if I have dry skin?

Exfoliation benefits dry skin, but it’s important to choose gentle exfoliants and not overdo it. Aim to exfoliate once or twice a week to remove dead skin cells and promote better absorption of moisturizers and hyaluronic acid serums.

6. Can stress worsen dry skin?

Stress can affect your skin’s health and contribute to dryness. It can disrupt the skin’s barrier function, increasing water loss and dryness itchy skin. Therefore, managing stress through relaxation techniques and self-care can positively impact your skin.


Dry skin on the face is a common condition that can be effectively treated and managed with the right skincare routine and lifestyle habits. You can achieve a healthy and radiant complexion by understanding the causes of dry skin and incorporating proper hydration, moisturizers, exfoliation, and targeted treatments. Remember to make dietary changes, avoid common mistakes, and address frequently asked questions to ensure comprehensive skin care, even for dry skin. Embrace these tips and techniques and enjoy the journey towards beautiful, hydrated skin.


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