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Managing Dry Skin

Updated: Dec 29, 2023

Dry skin is one of the most common skin conditions. But wait—you thought it was a skin type! Dry skin is typically dull and may get rough, flaky, or even scaly. It often feels tight and may be prone to fine lines and wrinkles. People with dry skin may also experience mild to moderate itching, irritation, or even cracking and bleeding.

Many people feel dry skin is just a winter issue. Although it’s very common in the winter months when the air is drier, dry skin occurs year round, and this is where the line between skin type and condition gets blurred.

Dry skin type is defined as skin lacking in oil and natural moisture factors that contribute to the barrier function of the skin. It is not a temporary condition, but a skin type that is permanent.

Dry skin often gets confused with dehydrated skin, or skin lacking in water. The two definitions are very similar, and dehydrated skin can be dry and itchy and perhaps dull-looking too. Your overall tone and complexion may appear uneven, and fine lines are more noticeable. It’s possible for combination and oily skin to also be dehydrated, though this skin condition can be corrected.  

Hydration vs. Moisture in Dry Skin: 

Drinking more water helps to replenish water loss and can aid those who are dehydrated, but it is not a cure for those with dry skin whose barrier function is not working properly. Instead, people with dry skin should apply moisturizers and creams that repair the skin’s barrier. 


Exfoliation provides many benefits, including lifting dead cells, increasing blood flow, and making moisturizing products more effective. The key is using the right exfoliant at the right frequency and finding balance, since over-exfoliating can also cause major disruption to the skin.  

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, these are the dos and don’ts for dry skin:


  • Put on moisturizer right after you get out of the shower. Creams and moisturizers will spread more easily and trap water in the skin. 

  • Listen to your skin. Maintain a skin care routine but switch it up seasonally.  

  • Pay attention to certain ingredients. Look for ingredients like ceramides, which are waxy lipid molecules that help hydrate skin, and hyaluronic acid, which is also known for its intense moisturizing qualities. Avoid products with fragrance because they can be irritating to dry skin.  


  • Forget sun protection. The sun and other types of light cause damage all year long. Protect your skin from the sun by seeking shade when appropriate, wearing sun-protective clothing, and applying broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. 

  • Exfoliate. People often make the mistake of exfoliating dry, peeling skin, further stripping it of moisture. Instead, moisturize.

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