Heal and prevent dry skin with my dermatologist's treatment tips developed from over 30 years of dermatology practice. It is important to treat dry skin by using a skin care routine that does not damage your skin's barrier and that also helps to strengthen it. Skin with healthy barrier will hold water and resist dryness. This helps your skin also resist chapping. It's simple with the right skin care routine and products.
What exactly causes dry skin?
Your skin become dry when it loses both water and its natural skin oils. Dry skin that has lost oils and water is also more vulnerable and has an impaired barrier function. It creates a spiral that leads to drier skin that's prone to chapping.
The diagnostic term for dry skin is xerosis. The fine skin of children is more fragile and prone to dryness. Your skin will also become more prone to dryness as you age. The first and most common areas of your skin to show dryness are usually the arms and legs. Your hands and feet can also become dry, and here the dry skin often thickens and cracks. Facial skin is thin, and often becomes dry with age as oil glands produce less oil.
It is important that your daily skin care helps you to resist dry skin because dry skin has a weakened skin barrier strength.
Dry skin has impaired barrier strength
What this means is that,
- dry skin can't hold onto precious skin water and suffers what is called an increase in transepidermal water loss, and
- soaps, solvents and harsh chemicals are better able to penetrate deeply into dry skin to dissolve more of your natural skin oils.
You can see why the problem compounds. Once skin becomes dry, it is prone to chapping. You experience this as flaking that becomes rough, begins to itch, stings and may even blister crack and bleed. The most common place people experience this is on their hands but it can happen to any area of your skin including your face, arms, legs, lips etc.
What’s happening inside your skin is that that the outer skin barrier (epidermis) can’t stand up to the usual insults of weather, soaps and other exposures. For example, dry air ‘pulls’ water out of your skin into the dehumidified wind, soaps seep into chapped skin to dissolve more of your skin’s natural oils. Eventually the dead cell protein also becomes damaged, dry skin gives way to chapping, cracking and more.
Why is dry skin worse in dry climates or in winter when outside air is windy and cold, and inside air is heated?
This environmental combination of dehumidified interior air and windy and harsh outdoor air draws moisture out of skin, leading to damaged skin barrier and skin dryness. Lost or damaged skin lipids, protein and water are all involved. Heal dryness, and prevent skin chapping with simple changes in your skin care routine.
Dermatologist's treatment tips for dry skin
The most important way to treat and prevent dry skin is to cleanse and moisturize your skin with the right type of products used in the most effective way.
The best skin cleansers for dry skin
Always cleanse skin using only gentle, hypoallergenic, non-drying soaps and skin cleansers. Excellent options include naturally made soaps that retain deeply hydrating glycerin such as my Naturally Best Bar Soap, Natural Foaming Liquid Hand Soap and Natural Shower Gel.
I find that facial skin requires a pH balanced facial cleanser to resist dryness such as my Extremely Gentle Foaming Facial Cleanser.
To prevent dry skin, how you cleanse your skin is as important as what you use to clean it!
- Lather-up soap or cleanser on only the parts of your skin that need it, such as skin areas that create body odor, have excess oil, or that become soiled or have product that needs to be removed. I tell my patients these areas are usually the face, neck, upper chest and back, armpits, groin, buttocks, hands and feet.
- The larger skin surface areas of the trunk, arms and legs are drier, less oily, less often soiled, and don’t typically need direct application of cleanser or soap lather.
- Use cool to warm water when cleansing dry skin; bathe and wash with cooler water to prevent over-stripping of your natural skin’s natural oils. Hot water removes skin oils too efficiently, just as it removes oily residue from dishes, pots and pans. Your skin is not that tough, so use warm water instead of hot water to prevent dry skin.
- Always rinse all soap residue completely from your skin so it does not continue to pull precious oils from your skin after bathing.
Dermatologist recommendation for the best skin creams and lotions for dry skin
Moisturizing your skin with a good skin cream or lotion is the most important skin care step to heal dry skin (xerosis). This locks in water soaked into skin during bathing. Historically, mineral oil and petrolatum are the classic skin moisturizing ingredients recommended by dermatologists. in skin care products. They are inexpensive, popular and products with them are often labeled as "dermatologist approved". They work well but my preference are natural plant-based botanical oils.
I prefer to formulate hydrating botanical oils into creams and lotions made with other water binding ingredients such as glycerin. Find my favorite ingredient combinations in my Natural Face, Hand and Body Lotion and Natural Face, Hand and Body Butter. These moisturizers are deeply hydrating and hypoallergenic yet never feel heavy or greasy on your skin. They are economical and the entire family can use them from head to toe.
Dry Skin Care Beyond Cleansers and Moisturizers
Get even better results when you use humectants that bind water, ingredients that mimic skin lipids and/or remold the skin barrier in a way that enhances its structural integrity.
Some of the best ingredients to actually boost your skin's ability to fight dryness include:
1. Humectants for dry skin such as:
- hyaluronic acid
- sodium PCA (part of your skin's natural moisturizing factor)
2. Lipids and skin barrier enhancers for dry skin such as
- siloxanes such as dimethicone which form a protective barrier on top of the skin
3. Alpha hydroxy acids for dry skin help to compact the dead cell layer to make it more resistant to dryness.
Putting it all together - dry skin care and dermatologist's treatment tips for:
Dry Skin Face Care Routine
My Complete Facial Skin Care Kit has everything you need to resist dry facial skin including the right sunscreen and green tea antioxidants to fight skin redness, irritation and to load skin with the right health promoting antioxidants. This soothing routine is perfect for even the most sensitive skin. It also integrates well with any of your favorite facial skin care products such as makeup, acne care products, wrinkle treating products etc.
I began using products from Dr. Bailey’s skincare line a little over a month ago. I have very sensitive, dry skin and am constantly seeking deep hydrating products that aren’t irritating or overly heavy. Trust me I have spent many, many years and dollars on various products and I must say this is the best skincare routine I’ve been on. I highly recommend these products. Audra
In winter or in extremely dry climates, I recommend enriching the lipid content of my Daily Face Cream with a few drops of my Omega Enriched Face Booster Oil. The organic sea buckthorn and borage oil in this beautiful botanical facial oil strengthens and sooths skin even more.
I have never used any kind of face oil before so I was hesitant to try the Omega Enriched Face Booster Oil. However, it is not greasy at all and goes on smoothly. You can feel it naturally nourishing your skin and moisturizing dry areas without irritation. Melanie
Body Smoothing Skin Care Routine for Dry Skin
My Ultra-Fast Triple Action Body Smoothing Kit uses glycolic acid to smooth and remodel the dead skin cell barrier. Use it at least twice weekly and apply your favorite body lotion or cream after all other bathing. I alternate this with my Natural Lotion or Butter to keep my own body skin soft and resisting dryness. You can use this kit to keep feet soft too.
It honestly does miracles to smooth, hydrate and tighten crepey skin. I saw 100%+ improvement in my skin in just a matter of weeks. THAT's the miracle I was looking for. Lori
Hand Care Routine to Prevent Dry Hand Skin
My favorite remedy to prevent dry hand skin is my Survival Kit for Busy Hands. I combine the right easy-rinse hand soap with my favorite humectant containing hand moisturizer, which is Dry Skin Hand Cream. This non-greasy cream contains the right humectants and skin barrier enhancers to keep hand skin healthy but never greasy. I keep a tube at every sink and in my lab coat pocket so that I can apply it numerous times a day to prevent dry skin from frequent hand washing.
I work in food and beverage where I need to wash my hands constantly! I started putting this on before bed, in the morning, and after work and noticed a huge difference! Now my hands aren't nearly as dry or sensitive to the temperatures (some spots on my hands were even starting to crack!). I also really like this one because it's scent-free and I don't have to worry about rashes. Which was one of the main reasons I had a hard time finding a good hand cream. Alex
How does sun protection help prevent dry skin?
UV damage causes skin thinning, structural fragility, and ultimately dryness. Sun damaged skin gradually looks like “an old leather purse”, and dries out and flakes easily. Get the best UV protection from pure mineral zinc oxide sunscreens such as my Sheer Strength Pure Physical Mineral Sunscreens. For the body and hands, my top choice is my Sheer Strength Pure Physical SPF 50+ Spray Sunscreen, which is invisible, dries completely and never feels heavy or greasy. It also rubs in entirely on hairy skin.
Does drinking enough water treat and prevent dry skin?
No! Contrary to popular belief, your dry skin is not caused by your failing to drink enough water. I’m sure you’ve noticed that taking a bath does not quench your thirst. Your body is more complex; only the most severe dehydration will cause skin to become flaccid and dry. This means that if you have dry skin, your skin care routine is how you fix the dryness.
Get rid of dry skin with your skin care routine, not a glass of water!
When you are prone to dry skin, a dermatologist's treatment tips will help to heal your skin's barrier and prevent dry skin. Your skin care choices can keep your skin supple, hydrated, comfortable and flake-free at any age.
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Cho HJ. Quantitative study of stratum corneum ceramides contents in patients with sensitive skin. J Dermatol. 2011 Oct 31.