Understanding exactly what your skin is trying to tell you is trickier than you might think, especially when it’s dry. Once upon a time, our understanding of skincare was simply that if your skin was breakout-prone and oily, you required products to soak up the excess oil, and if your skin was dry and irritated, you required heavy moisturisers to deliver some nourishment. However, as time has moved on, our understanding has deepened.
Now, for instance, we know that often the reason skin breaks out is a need for deeper dehydration. In fact, if you ask any expert, it’s extremely likely that they will say dryness is one of the biggest skin issues. Whether you’re experiencing tightness, redness, creasing or scaliness, it’s likely time you gave your skin a drink. And unfortunately, that doesn’t just mean slathering on the nearest moisturiser.
Keep scrolling for all there is to know on how to look after dry skin and to shop some of the best products out there.
More often than not, if your skin is dry, you’ll know about it. The best way to determine whether or not your skin is dry is to take some time to consider how it feels after you’ve washed your face or had a shower. If your skin feels tight and appears crepey when you move your face, it’s more than likely to be dry.
On the more serious end of the spectrum, dry skin can also feel rough, itchy and sore as well as show redness, scaling and peeling. If you’re concerned that your skin may be showing signs of an inflammatory skin disorder, such as eczema or psoriasis, it’s best to seek expert advice before taking matters into your own hands.
The key to tackling dry skin is understanding the reasons you’re experiencing it. So what exactly are the most common causes? Consultant dermatologist Anjali Mahto, BSc, MBBCh, FRCP, reveals, “Cold weather is a recognised cause of skin dryness. Low humidity and exposure to high wind will strip away moisture from the skin surface. We also tend to have the central heating on and opt for hot showers and baths, which can then further exacerbate the problem.”
And it’s not just external factors that can lead to skin dryness. Your daily regimen could also be causing issues. “Dry skin can be triggered by a number of factors besides cold weather and predisposition to inflammatory skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis. Advancing age, frequent overwashing, dry air and fragranced skincare products and soaps can also contribute,” says Mahto.
So what exactly can you do to help the situation? It comes down to hydration and moisturising. “I always recommend keeping yourself fully hydrated throughout the day, particularly during warmer months when sun damage can encourage fluid loss through the skin. The skin also loses more water content as we sleep, so always ensure you moisturise before bed,” says Mahto.
When it comes to treating dryness, it’s imperative that you look after your skin’s protective barrier, which works to prevent water loss and protect skin from external aggressors. Mahto explains, “In the winter months, there is less production of natural oils (e.g., ceramides, cholesterol, fatty acids), resulting in increased dryness, scaling and flaking.” To help combat such issues, she recommends regular moisturising: “Moisturisers will bind and retain water, in addition to forming a protective seal preventing further water loss.”
Shop the Best Products for Dry Skin
This sumptuous cleanser comes out of the tube as a thick jelly and, once massaged into dry skin, turns into a nourishing oil. But don't be alarmed. Unlike other oil-based cleansers, it doesn't cause even a hint of irritation. Perfect for sensitive, dry skin types, it removes every trace of makeup, dirt and SPF while keeping your skin barrier in check.
Recommended by skin experts and dermatologists far and wide, La Roche-Posay's Toleriane cleansing gel is considered a must-have for those with dry, sensitive skin. Fully hypoallergenic, it gives a gentle cleanse without even a hint of skin-stripping.
Free from fragrance and soap, this cult cleanser gives a deep clean while offering up three essential ceramides and hyaluronic acid for super-long-lasting hydration. Chances are your skin will love this stuff.
If you like a gel formula that foams when you massage it in but can't risk the drying effects that usually come with it, this one is for you. Full of amino acids, this hardworking cleanser retains the skin's natural moisture.
While this serum might not deliver instant glow and a renewed complexion, it does work to gradually build up moisture levels, helping your skin stay as healthy as possible.
There's no doubt that hyaluronic acid is a key ingredient in any skincare routine. This clever serum encourages the skin to produce its own hyaluronic acid, prevents its breakdown and delivers long-term hydration.
With vitamin B3 for skin barrier repair and oat lipids to soothe irritation, this is one of the most kind-to-skin serums out there.
With three forms of hyaluronic acid, each with different molecular weights, this simple-looking serum works to hydrate at a much deeper level to leave skin plump and glowing.
From Japan's leading sensitive skincare brand, this rich moisturiser is jam-packed with replenishing ceramides to protect and nourish the skin barrier. Plus, it's pH-balanced, making it ideal for irritated skin.
Unlike anything else out there, this cult moisturiser harnesses the power of goat's milk to soothe and moisturise dry, damaged skin. With aloe vera and vitamin E, there's virtually no dry skin situation this calming cream can't help with.
Free from potentially irritating oils, this moisturiser means business. With three forms of hyaluronic acid, not only does it deliver intense nourishment, but it also works to plump and improve firmness.
This nourishing cream also utilises the power of milk, only this time it's vegan. Formulated with fig milk to soften, oat milk to calm and argan milk to lock in moisture, it really tackles it all.
If your skin is dry, but you're still suffering with congestion, powerful exfoliators might only worsen the situation. This soothing, nourishing mask uses oatmeal and almond milk to gently exfoliate whilst soothing itching and irritation.
It is a little pricey, but it's also an incredibly impressive product. Harnessing the power of deeply hydrating natural ingredients such as avocado, pistachio and pumpkin oils, this mask leaves skin nourished beyond belief. Plus, it smells incredible.
With red algae, this impressive mask works to improve and replenish the skin's natural barrier function. Not only that, but it also contains plumping hyaluronic acid and aloe vera to soothe.