Partly due to genetics, partly due to environmental factors, regardless of the cause, dry skin poses an array of challenging problems. Common symptoms of dry skin include flaking, cracking, tightness, itchiness, dullness, roughness, and patchiness. Aging skin also often has symptoms of dry skin, as our skin loses moisture as we age. Aside from doing what we can to avoid environments that will dry out our skin further, consider keeping a humidifier on at night and at your place of work. And with every step in your skincare routine, always choose products that add moisture to the skin, never take it away.

The two-step cleanse

Exposing your skin to too much washing has the potential to strip your skin of whatever moisture it has left. So for your cleansing needs, look for gentle cleansers that are labeled as such or targeted for sensitive skin. Yes, yours is a sensitive skin type. A natural oil-based cleanser is your first step. And then follow up with a foaming water-based one. Ingredients that dehydrate and that you should avoid include mineral oil, petrolatum, ammonium lauryl sulfate, or sodium.

Exfoliate

If you have dry skin, exfoliating should be done with care. Many skin care experts recommend that you exfoliate using a washcloth or a sonic cleansing face brush. Either of these options combined with a gentle exfoliating cream will do the trick of buffing off dead, flaky skin. Be careful with products that contain salicylic acid or willow bark (the natural version of salicylic acid), as these both have the potential to dry out the skin. If you are concerned about acne breakouts, look for a product with a lower concentration of salicylic acid, or one for spot use.

Prep and prime

If there is one thing we hope your skin care routine has taught you is that priming your skin is necessary for what follows. Particularly for dry skin types. If you want deep, beyond surface-level nourishment, you need to prep your skin to absorb moisture. Use a toner or lotion that contains glycolic acid, an AHA that has the smallest molecule structure, which allows it to penetrate the surface skin layer and encourages the skin to retain moisture. And of course, put hyaluronic acid to work for you. It’s helpful for all skin types, but its superpower lies in its ability to pull and hold onto moisture. The result is skin that stays moisturized for longer! Using hyaluronic acid before other serums to pull the rest of the serums deep into the skin versus a surface application.

Sheet Masks

The star of many beauty products and the bestseller of several cosmetics companies, the sheet mask will provide extra heavy-duty hydration for those days when your skin is particularly thirsty and needs some pampering. As part of your morning routine, or your night routine, or for your midday nap, look for a sheet mask that touts hydration as its primary purpose if you are wanting a moisturizing boost.

Serums

Whatever you wish to target with your serum step, such as dark circles under the eyes, or brightening for sun spots, always look for serums that provide hydration along with whatever else it targets. Be careful to avoid ingredients that could have a pore-clogging effect, however, which can irritate dry skin types. For example, petrolatum, mineral oil, and isopropyl myristate are all unkind to pores.

Moisturize

Dry skin types will want to find a moisturizer that is on the heavier side for their skincare routine. Cream-based or oil-based moisturizers tend to provide longer-lasting moisturizing capability and will lock in the serum formulation applied in the previous step. Some gold-star ingredients that are said to be effective for dry skin types include peptides, glycolipids, and jojoba oil.

Sunscreen

Finish up your skincare routine with a sunscreen that combines sun protection with hydration. Yes, these do exist! Rose extract is a popular addition to sunscreens that provide hydration as this extract is known for its ability to hydrate. Other hydrating elements to look for in sunscreens include oat kernel extract, various fruit extracts, and—of course—hyaluronic acid. Make sure to use a sunscreen that provides both UVA and UVB protection of 50 SPF or at the least 30 SPF.

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