Diary / Beauty / Jan 26, 2023
Found: The Best Skincare Routine for Dry Skin
Written by: Michele Ross
Photography by: Ben Ritter & Jon Paterson
If you have dry skin, you likely know all too well how it can get in the way of putting your best face forward. Dryness affects both the look and feel of your skin: perhaps it’s dull or flaky, tight or itchy, sensitive or acne-prone… or all this and more. Excess dryness can also reflect the state of your dermatological health, signaling that your skin barrier isn’t functioning properly to adequately protect against the elements.
When it comes to caring for dry skin, there’s good news and not-so-good news. You can’t change your skin type, so if you’ve always been prone to dryness, chances are high that replenishing moisture will remain your top priority. But the good news is that it’s entirely possible to relieve dryness on a daily basis. It’ll take a few simple adjustments and investing in the right products to nourish and moisturize your skin (and to keep that moisture intact).
Before we cover a step-by-step guide outlining the best skincare routine for dry skin, let’s take a look at the key causes of dry skin—genetic and otherwise.
What causes dry skin?
Again, dry skin is primarily genetic. Age also factors into the equation: The older we get, the less we’re able to retain skin moisture. (For this reason, the best beauty products for mature skin will include highly nourishing, occlusive ingredients.) But even people with different skin types can struggle with bouts of dryness from time to time, just as those with inherently dry skin will deal with varying degrees of dryness.
Genetics and age aside, additional culprits that can dry out the skin include:
-Environmental changes: Dry winter air and indoor heating are major instigators that rob the skin of moisture. On the other end of the spectrum, summer heat and excess sun exposure also contribute to water loss in the skin, as can dehydration. (Also, if you’re a frequent flier, the desert-dry cabin air isn’t doing your complexion any favors.)
-The temperature and quality of your water: Hot water spells trouble, especially for those with dry skin. In addition, a 2021 study shows that there’s a clear link between water hardness and xerosis (aka dry skin). Hard water that has a high concentration of minerals (such as calcium) can also compromise skin barrier function and increase the risk of atopic dermatitis.
-Overwashing your skin: People with dry skin can generally get by with washing their face once a day (or up to two times a day) with a gentle cleanser. No matter your skin type, washing your face any more than that—especially with a foaming cleanser with harsh surfactants—can strip your complexion of its natural lipids and protein molecules. As board-certified dermatologist David Kim, MD, previously told Jones Road, these constituents help to keep moisture intact. (The same thing goes for when you wash your hands or apply hand sanitizer too frequently.)
-Harsh ingredients: Not all foaming agents are incompatible with dry skin—and they’re not the only ingredients that can lead to or exacerbate dryness. People with sensitive and/or dry skin should take extra care to avoid added fragrances in their skincare products, as they can trigger adverse reactions. Plus, if your skin is dry and acne-prone, the standard ingredients that derms recommend to battle breakouts (think salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and retinoids) can double down dryness as well.
-Underlying health conditions and medications: People who have dermatological conditions like eczema or psoriasis are likely to struggle with dry skin in general. But other medical issues (including but not limited to diabetes and hypothyroidism) and prescriptions can cause dryness, inflammation, and sensitivity, too.
How to build the best skincare routine for dry skin
Developing a skincare routine that truly works for dry skin takes a few small tweaks, the right products, and consistency. Altogether, they can make a major difference in how your skin looks and feels—transforming dullness and patchiness into soft, smooth, and soothed skin.
As you build your new and improved daily skincare routine for dry skin, be sure to keep the following steps, tips, and FYIs in mind.
1. Use a gentle cleanser
Whether your skin type is dry or you’re dealing with a newfound case of dryness, start your routine off right by using a gentle cleanser. Oil cleansers (like The Cleansing Stick) and cream cleansers are your safest bets to protect your skin barrier and not strip your face of essential moisture. (Note: While The Cleansing Stick is a game changer for dry and sensitive skin, it’s beneficial for dry and acne-prone skin as well. It packs sunflower seed oil, which fights acne-causing bacteria—all the while replenishing the skin with protective vitamins, antioxidants, and fatty acids.) And don’t forget to rinse it off with cool or lukewarm—never hot—water.
2. Pay attention to timing and prevent water loss
It’s not only what you apply to your skin that matters, but also how you apply it. After cleansing, you may choose to pat on a toner (opt for one that doesn’t have astringents) and/or serum (ideally one that’s hydrating and/or offers antioxidant protection: think hyaluronic acid and vitamin C, respectively).
A helpful hack to optimize hydration is to lightly pat your skin semi-dry after cleansing, and to proceed with the next steps immediately after. Humectants like hyaluronic acid will take to your skin better if there’s some H2O it can bind to. Also, waiting too long before proceeding with your skincare routine steps—whether you’re toning, hydrating, or locking in moisture—can lead to water loss and dryness.
3. Pick the best moisturizer for your skin’s needs
Since moisturizing is the most important step in a skincare routine for dry skin, take extra care to choose the best moisturizer for your complexion and concerns.
If you have oily or combination skin and you’re simply dealing with a random bout of dryness, check out the Light Moisture Cream. This bouncy gel-moisturizer will quench your thirsty skin without making it feel greasy or revving up sebum production. It’s also a worthy pick for people with dry, acne-prone skin, as it won’t clog your pores or trigger breakouts. Star ingredients include skin-balancing niacinamide, moisture-retaining propanediol, and water-attracting glycerin.
If your skin is always dry and/or sensitive, you’ll need a denser, more intensely nourishing product packed with occlusive ingredients. Enter: Miracle Cream, which Jones Road developed specifically for super dry skin. It packs some of the best dryness-fighting ingredients available—including ultra-rich shea butter, skin barrier-friendly and anti-inflammatory vitamin E, and soothing sunflower seed oil.
4. Replenish moisture on other dry spots
Aside from the face, common dry spots on the body include the hands, elbows, and heels. These areas tend to require more potent moisturizing properties as the skin below your neck is thicker, which is where buttery balms come in handy.
Hippie Stick is as rich as it gets. The universal balm—which is ideal for braving harsh elements—is a dream for conditioning and nurturing dry skin on the body (but also super flaky dry spots on the face and parched ends of your hair, too). It features barrier-protective and intensely moisturizing coconut oil, healing shea butter, and tried-and-true sunflower seed oil. Bonus: The convenient stick applicator allows you to apply the balm precisely where you need it.
P.S. While you’re at it, give your lips some love with The Lippie Stick.
5. Invest in non-skincare products to combat irritation
To take your regimen for dry skin to the next level, think beyond your bathroom shelf. You can invest in items that can undo the effects of key culprits that trigger dryness and reactivity, such as:
-a shower filter that softens hard water
-a humidifier for your desk or bedside table
-a plush face towel that won’t inflame or irritate your skin
The bottom line
Whether it’s your skin type or merely an occasional concern, dry skin can be itchy, irritating, and generally uncomfortable. Fortunately, a daily skincare routine that includes enriching ingredients in clean, non-irritating formulas—and implements a few simple but effective lifestyle modifications—can successfully help to keep dryness and reactivity at bay.