Why Is My Skin So Dry Even When I Moisturize?
Dry skin is a relatively common condition, especially in the winter. Proper treatment is key for stopping dry skin from getting worse and preventing cracking, peeling, and other side effects. However, sometimes you will find that your skin is dry even when you moisturize, and it can be hard to discern the exact cause.
If your skin is dry no matter what anti-aging moisturizer you try, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we break down 16 possible reasons why your skin might be dry despite your best efforts. Keep in mind that there is rarely one single cause, and that most dry skin will be caused by multiple factors working together to dry out your skin. Without further ado, here are 16 reasons why your skin might be dry even if you are moisturizing regularly:
You’re over-cleansing, or using the wrong cleanser.
Out of your entire skin routine routine, cleansing is the step that has the potential to be the most stripping and drying. If you are cleansing too often, that can lead to dry skin no matter how much moisturizer you slather on. For instance, if you’re washing your face in the morning and at night, try only doing it once a day and just rinsing it with water the other time. You should also examine your cleansing for potentially drying ingredients such as sulfates and acids. Generally speaking, foaming cleansers will be more stripping while milk and cream cleansers are gentler on the skin, so the latter may be a better choice for you.
You use water that’s too hot.
We love a hot shower as much as the next person, but unfortunately hot water is very drying for your skin and hair. In fact, if you have been struggling with dry skin on your body as well as your face, then too-hot showers might be one of the culprits. Whether you are taking a shower or washing your face at the sink, the water should be lukewarm to warm, not hot to the touch. Also try to avoid hot tubs and other scenarios where you will be exposed to very hot water, especially for a long period of time.
You’re spending too much time in the water.
Even if your baths and showers are lukewarm, they might be drying out your skin if you tend to stay in them for a very long time. Ideally, your showers should last a maximum of 5-10 minutes, and you should only shower once a day if possible. If you spend a lot of time swimming in pools, ocean, lakes, and other bodies of water, that can also dry out your skin. Chlorinated water such as swimming pools will further exacerbate the effects, because chlorine strips the natural oils from your skin. If you are struggling with very dry skin, try minimizing your time in water to see if that helps to ease your symptoms.
Your skin has been exposed to chlorinated or hard water.
Even if you’ve been good about taking quick, lukewarm showers, your water might still be drying out your skin due to the chemicals it contains. Hard water has a lot of calcium and magnesium dissolved in it. The presence of these minerals means that the water is less effective at washing away soap, leaving residue behind on your skin and leading to dryness and irritation. You can get test strips to determine how hard your water is. If your home does have hard water, you can get filters to help remove the minerals from the water to lessen its effects on your skin.
You use products with a lot of fragrance.
We hate to break it to you, but all those perfumes and scented body products might be seriously irritating your skin. Fragrances are created by certain volatile chemicals reacting together, and the presence of these chemicals can irritate your skin. Denatured alcohol is also a common carrier for scents. Unfortunately, this type of alcohol is notoriously drying to the skin as well. If you have been struggling with dry skin, it’s worth switching to a fragrance-free skin routine to see if that helps with skin that is dry even after moisturizing.
Your moisturizer contains drying ingredients.
Reading the ingredient label carefully is important, because some moisturizers can contain ingredients that dry out your skin. Look for a fragrance-free moisturizer with a short ingredient list that is free of potential ingredients. If you need extra moisture, consider layering on a hydrated facial oil or mixing it into your lotion.
You’re applying your moisturizer at the wrong time.
To get the most benefit out of your moisturizer, you should be applying it twice a day: once in the morning and once in the evening; a.k.a. after each time you shower or wash your face. Ideally, you should apply your serums and then your moisturizer as soon as possible while your face is slightly damp. This will help to trap the water in your skin and help to combat dryness. If you wait even a couple of minutes, your face will dry out completely and your moisturizing products won’t be as effective.
You’re applying too much moisturizer.
Believe it or not, applying too much moisturizer can have adverse effects on your skin. That’s because using too much moisturizer or applying it too often can mess up your skin’s natural balance, smothering your skin and causing your skin to produce less oil than it should. Over time, this can reduce your oil production enough that it results in chronically dry skin. If you’ve been slathering your skin in moisturizer, try applying less or switching to a lighter product that won’t be as thick.
You exfoliate too often.
Exfoliating regularly can offer many benefits for your skin, including smoothing out texture, reducing acne blemishes, and clearing out clogged pores. However, over-exfoliating can have seriously negative side effects for your skin, such as drying out your skin and even damaging your skin barrier. If you have been exfoliating multiple times a week or using very harsh exfoliating products, it doesn’t matter how much moisturizer you put on — your skin will still be dry. Try cutting back on exfoliating, switching to gentler products, or even giving your skin a break entirely to see if that soothes your dry skin.
You don’t exfoliate often enough.
On the other hand, not exfoliating enough can also contribute to dry skin. This is because if you don’t exfoliate, the dead skin will build up on your face, resulting in dry patches and making it harder for your skincare products to work effectively. Some gentle exfoliation one to two times a week will help smooth out these rough patches and make it easy to apply an even layer of moisturizer. We recommend choosing lower concentrations of acids to reduce the risks of over-exfoliating and irritating your skin.
You live in a harsh, cold, dry climate.
Certain factors that cause dehydrated skin have nothing to do with you, and living in a harsh, dry, and/or cold climate is one of those. However, just because you live in one of these areas, it doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to peeling, cracking skin. Try to minimize your time outdoors, especially when the weather is inclement, and cover up your skin with coats, hats, gloves, and scarves when you must go outside. Getting a humidifier for your home and/or office can also make a big difference by putting some moisture back into the air.
You’re not drinking enough water.
Hydration doesn’t just happen from the outside in; it also happens from the inside out. If you’re not drinking enough water, then your skin will still be dry even if you are applying a gallon of moisturizer a day. If drinking plain water doesn’t appeal to you, try caffeine-free herbal teas for hot beverages, or infusing cold water with fruits and vegetables to give it some flavor. Most people need between three to four liters of fluid a day, depending on how much they sweat and other factors.
You’re not getting enough nutrients.
Getting the proper amounts of nutrients is key for skin health. If you’re deficient in certain vitamins and minerals, that could be contributing to dry skin. Some of the most important nutrients for skin health include vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, and zinc. Getting these nutrients naturally through your diet is usually the best course of action, but you might also need to look into taking some kind of supplement or vitamin if you can’t get them through food and drinks.
You have underlying health conditions.
Many different health conditions feature dry skin as a side effect. This is especially true for skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis. However, it can also be a side effect of many different internal health conditions, including diabetes, thyroid disorders, renal failure, and HIV. If you are struggling with health issues, talk to your doctor about whether or not your dry skin could be related to any of them. In some cases, the dry skin will go away as the underlying causes are treated.
You are experiencing side effects of medications.
In some other cases, getting treatment for your medical conditions is what causes the dry skin. Numerous medications are known to dry out the skin, including blood pressure drugs, cholesterol medications, acne treatments, wrinkle creams, and antihistamines. In some cases, the effects are temporary as your skin adjusts to the medications, but in other situations the dryness will be ongoing. If you’re experiencing extremely dry skin, talk to your doctor about mitigating the side effects and potentially switching to another drug that might be less drying.
You are genetically predisposed to dry skin.
Certain factors, such as ethnicity and genetics, mean that certain people are more predisposed to dry skin than others. For instance, ethnicity plays a large role in how much water content your skin naturally contains and how fast water loss occurs. Aging is also a major contributing factor to dry skin: Oil production slows down as you age, and basically everyone has dry skin by age 60 or so. So if you feel like your skin has been getting drier as you age, it’s not just in your head — that really is happening.
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