If your skin is prone to redness, flaking and irritation, there’s high chance you have a dry skin type. But what actually defines dry skin and how should you look after it? This is your expert-approved guide to caring for dry skin.
When it comes to determining your skin type, things aren’t always easy. But, while dry skin might experience periods of oiliness and oily skin might at times feel tight and uncomfortable, determining your core skin type is crucial if you want to keep your complexion in check. And that is especially true when it comes to dry skin.
Whereas oily skin tends to show itself through shininess or breakouts, dry skin has a tendency to hide away behind the scenes, appearing only when it feels too late in the form of redness, irritation and flaking. And as things start hotting up and our skin becomes subject to perils of the great outdoors, it’s more important than ever that we’re not neglecting the very specific wants and needs of dry skin.
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If you have a feeling that you have a dry skin type, now is the time to brush up on all of the expert-approved tips, ingredients and skincare routines to keep your complexion happy in the months ahead. To make things a little easier, we’ve enlisted the help of Dr Ifeoma Ejikeme, skincare expert at CeraVe to compile the ultimate guide to caring for dry skin.
What is dry skin?
It might sound silly, but just because your skin appears dry, doesn’t necessarily mean you have a dry skin type. “Dry skin is skin that has less sebum or lipid content,” explains Dr Ejikeme. “This means it is dry all year round, irrespective of products placed on the skin or levels of hydration.”
How can you tell if you have dry skin?
Here comes the hard part. As previously mentioned, dry skin can be particularly hard to self-diagnose, as all skin types are likely to experience some periods of dryness. However, Dr Ejikeme explains that prolonged or ongoing issues imply your skin type is likely dry. “Your skin will feel tight and you might be prone to redness, flaking or itchiness. Lines and wrinkles will also appear exaggerated,” she says.
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What causes dry skin?
“Many external factor can cause exacerbated dryness,” reveals Dr Ejikeme. “Environmental stressors, diet and caffeine intake can play a part in dehydrating the skin. Excessive exfoliation and overuse of retinoids can also impair the barrier function of skin, causing it to feel dry.”
And while what our skin is exposed to in terms of products can worsen the situation, so too can the weather. While dry skin can flare up during colder months due to cool winds and drying central heating, sun damage can also impair the skin’s barrier function, causing it to turn dry and irritated.
How can you tell if your skin is dry or dehydrated?
Now this is where things start to get tricky, but it’s important to know the difference if you’re trying to determine whether your skin type is dry. “All skin types, both dry and oily, can be dehydrated and feel dry. The difference is, with dehydrated skin, it’s only the upper layers of the skin that have low moisture content,” Dr Ejikeme reveals.
The key to determining the difference, Dr Ejikeme explains, is in how prone your skin is to the symptoms of dryness: “If the dryness you’re experiencing is not a common occurrence, it may be a sign your skin is just dehydrated. Using products that help to repair the barrier function can make this better over time.” For dry skin types that experience regular dryness, however, it’s important for your whole routine to be focussed on hydration and improving barrier function.
What are the best ingredients for dry skin?
Essentially, you want to be using any ingredient that works to hydrate and ‘pull’ water to skin. “Humectants help to do this, and include ingredients like glycerine, hyaluronic acid and even aloe,” says Dr Ejikeme. Then, you need to look for other ingredients that help to ‘lock’ the moisture in and hydrate the skin’s upper layers, such as ceramides and fatty acids.
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Which ingredients should you avoid if you have dry skin?
In times of extreme dryness and irritation, it is advised to steer clear of ingredients that compromise the skin’s barrier function, such as retinol and harsh exfoliants. However, experts warn definitively blacklisting ingredients for dry skin isn’t the way to go. “The hydration levels in the skin are constantly in flux, so there is no one ingredient to always avoid. Instead, listen to your skin. If it is feeling especially irritated, stop exfoliating and use hydrating ingredients that help reduce the feeling of parched skin,” Dr Ejikeme recommends.
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THE BEST SKINCARE PRODUCTS FOR DRY SKIN
The best cleanser for dry skin
When it comes to cleansing, it’s important to look for gentle formulas that won’t strip the skin. This cream formula contains hyaluronic acid to hydrate, as well as amino acids to support the skin’s natural barrier function. It also works into a gentle foaming lather to deliver a deep cleanse without causing any upset.
Honest Beauty Calm On Foaming Cream Cleanser, £20 at Cult Beauty
The best serum for dry skin
Unlike conventional serums, this formula has a nourishing, creamy texture. Along with super-hydrating hyaluronic acid, it also contains ceramides to restore the skin’s protective barrier, as well as vitamin B5 to soothe.
CeraVe Hyaluronic Acid Serum, £17 at Lookfantastic
The best rich moisturiser for dry skin
Formulated specifically to combat redness, irritation and inflammation, this rich moisturiser gives dry skin a healthy slurp of hydration and repair the protective barrier while it works.
Kate Somerville DeliKate Recovery Cream, £69 at Lookfantastic
The best light moisturiser for dry skin
If you have a dry skin type that doesn’t require heavy-duty creams all year round, this lightweight fluid will help to deliver necessary nourishment and keep irritation at bay.
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Fluid, £18.50 at Lookfantastic
The best mask for dry skin
If your skin is experiencing a particularly bad bout of dryness, this super-calming mask will help reset the balance. With white mushroom extract, it quells discomfort and restores moisture.
Ren Clean Skincare Evercalm Ultra Comforting Rescue Mask, £34 at Cult Beauty
The best eye cream for dry skin
The skin around the eye area is thin and requires more moisture than other areas of the face. Because of this, it is also more sensitive. This lightweight eye lotion contains ceramides to help rebuild the skin barrier as well as deliver plumping nourishment.
Curél Moisture Eye Zone Essence, £22.50 at Boots
The best exfoliator for dry skin
Dry skin doesn’t always do well with exfoliation, sometimes turning even more irritated and red. This exfoliating mask, however, has been specially formulated for dry, sensitive skin types to boost radiance, while maintaining optimum hydration levels.
Tata Harper Radiance Mask, £57 at Cult Beauty
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Images: Courtesy of brands
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