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Buiding A Skincare Routine for Dehydrated Skin from A to Z

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Skin feels tight, uncomfortable, and even flakey, calling for hydration — meet dry, dehydrated skin. When your skin is dry, most probably your protective barrier is damaged and can’t fulfill its role anymore, leaving your microbiome system unprotected, leading to even more dryness. More than that, dry skin can’t maintain hydration levels properly, which in turn can lead to premature aging. So, adding the right products to your skincare routine is imperious necessary.

But before we dig deep into the topic, here’s some theory:

Why is my skin dry?

Dehydrated skin could happen due to a series of reasons: could be genetics, age, pollution, lifestyle, some medication, or climate. Nevertheless, dry skin feels tight and can be a pain to apply makeup on. And when skin is dry, it becomes even less capable of drawing and locking in moisture, becoming even drier to a point where it can be flaky or itchy.

What dry skin needs the most?

Dry skin needs humectants as much as emollients and occlusives to draw in moisture and lock it in. Best humectant? You guess it right — hyaluronic acid. On the other hand, squalane, fatty acids, urea, petroleum jelly are great emollients that return moisture to your skin, making it soft again, while occlusives refer to these elements that lock in moisture, such as beeswax, shea, and cocoa butter.

Carry on reading and get ready to have infallible skin.

Morning routine

Kick off an awesome day with a morning skincare routine tailored for dry skin. This is how you combat the wreaking havoc that UV rays, pollution, dust, and smoke can make on your skin. Basically, your AM care regimen should shield your skin from external aggressors, which also diminishes the chances of premature aging. Show a little extra TLC with these steps that your dry skin will literally love.

Cleanser

While it takes away impurities, a cleanser for dry skin should hydrate and nourish the skin. If you’re not using the cleanser according to your skin type, you might end up stripping away the moisture your skin needs at once with the dirt. For your thirsty skin, pick one that includes ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, butter, glycerin, oils, and squalane, un-scented and soap-free. Also, you’d want to look for a cleanser with a creamy or gel-like formula rather than a foamy one, which can remove the sebum your skin needs. 

Toner

You may think you don’t need a toner, but this extra step may add a lot of moisture to your skin as long as you use the right product. If you don’t want your skin to suffer, stay away from alcohol-based astringent toners. Instead, you want your toner to be infused with moisturizing ingredients: peptides, jojoba oil, rosehip oil, glycolipids, and HA. A toner doesn’t just serve up an extra dose of moisture, but it also prepares your skin for what you’re applying after, which leads us to the next step.

Serum

By their very nature, serums are quickly absorbed by the skin, working to restore moisture. This is possible due to their itty-bitty molecules. Dry skin thrives for a creamier serum infused with HA to pull water to the skin, vitamin E to soothe and protect, peptides to support the skin’s natural renewal process, and antioxidants to protect against free radicals. Take a look at these hyaluronic acid serums and pick your favorite.

Moisturizer

During the day, the skin not only needs hydration but also protection against free radicals. This because UV, pollution, and dust can break the protective barrier, leaving your skin unshielded, so higher chances to dry out even more. That protection is mostly given by ceramide, B5, niacinamidepeptides, amino acids, and antioxidants. However, in the daytime, use a light moisturizer, maybe a gel-like formula that won’t feel heavy on the skin — that’s for PM, you’ll soon find out why. These occlusive moisturizers are exactly what your dry skin needs.

Eye cream

Everyone has a thin eye area, so the need for hydrating, anti-aging ingredients is high. Bring your eye area back to life with skin-loving ingredients meant to nourish and revitalize it, such as antioxidants, peptides, ceramide, and hyaluronic acid.

Makeup

Your makeup bag should be filled with products that address dry skin, no doubt. Maybe the most important are makeup base, concealer, foundation, and blush. Wearing a primer helps more than keeping makeup in place, it creates an even complexion to prep your skin for better eyeshadow and foundation application. Speaking of, you definitely need a foundation for dry skin — liquid, creamy formulas infused with skin-nourishing ingredients. Also, opt for a hydrating concealer. You may want to skip the setting powder (that’s for oily skin) and instead choose a setting spray. What about the blush? Stick to a creamy formula. The same goes for your highlighter: choose a liquid one. 

For the moments your skin needs a pick-me-up, carry with you a facial mist to refresh it and boost its hydration. 

Evening routine for dry skin

At night, skin cells go into renewal mode, growing and repairing the tissue. Hence, the need for a heavier cream. During this cell makeover mode, you get maximum impact from your night skincare routine. 

I bet I don’t have to mention cleansing your skin is the first step — even if you’re not wearing makeup — and eventually apply toner too. This preps your skin for the next step, aka serum.

Serum 

This hydration-booster elixir is what you need to make your skin work on hydration while sleeping. Since your skin cells are in a makeover state at night, applying a serum will make your skin wake up quenched. OFC, this if you use a serum rich in hyaluronic acid, the MVP for trapping water into the skin, the one that makes it look plump. A peptide serum would work great too. Or, if your skin is super dry, you can opt for a face oil.  

Moisturizer

I was mentioning earlier that at PM, you should apply a heavier moisturizer than the one you use in the morning. That’s because, during the night, skin loses water. If you don’t replenish that water loss with a hydrating moisturizer, you’ll wake up with the creepy feeling (and look!). Hence, pairing a good sleep with a moisturizer rich in hydrating ingredients is your best bet. Then you can hit the hay in peace cos’ your skin will show you some love in the morning!

Weekly routine

Some stuff should be done once or twice a week. Overdoing a skincare regimen can have the opposite effects, damaging your skin barrier and leading to more dryness.

Exfoliant

To polish away dead skin cells that make your skin look dull, use a scrub or an exfoliator once weekly. A gentle one with tiny particles; otherwise, you risk irritating your skin. OK, and if it’s got hydrating ingredients too, you hit it big. Sloughing away dead skin cells will make your skin look more even and absorb the products you apply to it better.

Mask

Once or twice a week, apply a hydrating mask to revive your dry skin. A hydrating mask not only has the role of relaxing your skin but it infuses it with skin-loving ingredients for a softer look. You’ll most likely notice a radiant glow every time you use a hydrating mask and an overall improvement with each application. Relax, and wait for your skin to go to its best condition!

Additionally, give your skin a hydration boost with capsules serum. These are pretty powerful since they are filled with more active ingredients than an actual serum.

What else

Eat healthily, drink plenty of water

Drinking enough water (8 glasses a day) is always a great thing, but even more, if you have dry skin. A study published in Clinical Cosmetic Investigative Dermatology shows that drinking water positively impacts the skin. Diet also is related to how the skin looks and feels, so make sure you eat skin-loving foods  — beauty comes from the inside is not a myth.

Stay away from SLSs, alcohol, fragrance, retinoids, salicylic acid, AHAs, and ammonium.

Avoid long hot baths

Hot water strips oils from the skin faster than cold water, so skip the long, hot showers or baths. I know this is more than painful, but try to limit yourself to 5-10 minutes of a warm shower per day to help your skin retain more natural oil into it.

Use sunscreen

Don’t forget about SPF! The skin exposed to the sun is gradually losing essential oils, making it even dryer, flaky, and prematurely wrinkled.

Consider collagen supplements

The use of collagen supplements for dry skin has been rising lately. A few clinical studies were performed regarding the effects of collagen-based supplements on skin hydration. Because collagen has a high water-binding capacity, it’s a great moisturizer that makes skin elastic and hydrated.

Restoring hydration to the skin is also essential, so there are some things to be avoided if you want to keep your skin smooth:

What to avoid

  1. Soaps in bar form
  2. Drying cleansers
  3. Products with irritants like alcohol and fragrance
  4. Hot water, since it strips away skin’s natural oils
  5. Abrasive scrubs or exfoliants
  6. Stiff-bristled brushes, as they can cause micro-tears in the skin’s surface

When should you get worried?

Having dry skin can also be a sign of dermatitis or other skin condition. If none of the products or treatments you use seem to work, it might be the case to see a dermatologist. You might face a severe medical issue that needs professional attention.

Who wrote this?
Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu
Ana is a sociologist and feminist with a shared passion for literature, psychology, and skincare, the combo that made her determined to start Women's Concepts. With over five years of experience in dermatological research, she has now become a certified skincare consultant keen to convince others of the importance of a diligent routine. Her close relationships with dermatologists around the globe, along with years of researching, analyzing studies, and hand-testing products on a daily basis, made Ana one of the best persons you can get advice from.
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Women's Concepts relies on the latest scientific research to provide accurate, complete, and fact-based information in skincare, on which we're willing to stake our reputation. Our team includes skincare experts who are highly regarded in their fields and committed to upholding the best standards of research. We spend quality time vetting every single product we recommend and double-checking all the facts shared on Women's Concepts. We always stand on the side of inclusivity, and our mission is to help everyone fix their skin issues as they arise and leverage the products they buy to achieve their goals. You can view our expert review board and everything about our editorial guidelines here.
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