Every few weeks we shed an entire layer of skin — more than 40,000 dead skin cells slough off us every minute. But if you’ve got a problem with dry skin, you’re shedding way more than that. When your skin barrier is dry, it creates small cracks in the skin, causing moisture to escape.
What are the causes of dry skin on your face? And what’s the best way to treat it? We consulted with Dr. Steve, Geologie’s founding dermatologist, and got some professional insights.
In this article you’ll learn:
- Why your skin is do dry
- How to get rid of dry skin
- Why your skin is so dry even after moisturizing
- Can you really cure dry skin on your face overnight?
- How to fix dry patches on your face
Why is my skin so dry?
If you’ve got dry skin there could be many reasons for it. Here are eight reasons why you might be experiencing dry skin.
Soap is harsh on your skin
Our skin has a thin acidic film known as the acid mantle, which retains natural oils, hydrating proteins, and fatty acids. The pH of this film is about 5.5, no match for the much higher pH in most bar soaps, which strip the skin of its protective coating. “It can literally eat away the protective layer and leave your skin so dry it’ll begin to crack,” said Dr. Steve. “You can go a lifetime without using harsh bar soap and your skin would thank you.”
But if you’re jonesing for suds from a bar, and you want to prevent dry skin on your face, Dr. Steve recommends a soap labeled neutral pH.
Dry air = dry skin
Turn up the heat indoors during the winter and humidity levels dip, a signal to your skin barrier to start working like a flake factory. That's because humidity is really water vapor, and your skin takes advantage of this moisture by sucking it up to stay hydrated. When the humidity disappears, your skin will make like a raisin and go brittle.
To avoid dry skin in the winter, use a humidifier. It'll restore moisture to the air and some skin sanity (it can also help with other problems associated with poor indoor humidity levels, such as nose bleeds, increased seasonal allergies, difficulty breathing, sore throat, dry eyes, and more).
Also, winter is a great time to start your skincare regimen — one that includes our Vital Morning Face Cream with hyaluronic acid, the king of moisturizers.
Long, hot showers
Does hot water damage skin? Janet Leigh’s character in Alfred Hitchcock's “Psycho” might have wondered about that when she entered the shower in the Bates Motel. She didn't last long enough to find out, unfortunately, that hot water strips away the protective lipid layer responsible for keeping moisture in and bacteria and irritants out. That's why your fingers get wrinkly.
Limit your soak if you can (it saves water) and keep the water temperature lukewarm (if the mirror gets steamy, lower the temperature), and if you hear screeching violins, violas, and cellos — run!
After your shower, quickly apply a moisturizer — they work best on damp skin.
According to the Mayo Clinic, about half of adults over 40 have issues with dry skin. That’s because as you get older, your body produces less hyaluronic acid — a natural moisturizer that hydrates your skin to plumpness. Our Vital Morning Face Cream has a synthetic hyaluronic acid that will hold in moisture with a great big bear hug where your skin needs it most. Roar.
Psoriasis, which occurs when skin cells are replaced more quickly than usual, can make your skin more prone to the flake factor. Same with eczema flare ups. On rare occasions, dry skin could also indicate something more medically serious, such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, malnutrition, or even kidney failure.
Beware of crusting, intense itchiness, hyperpigmentation, and rough, flaky, or scaly patches on the skin. If they persist, visit a doctor to determine the proper treatment.
Parents are too often blamed by their kids for things beyond their control, but an inherited skin condition is fair game. A recent study found that some skin conditions are caused by mutations in genes that control the production of the protein filaggrin — which plays a role in forming and hydrating the skin barrier. Nearly 10 percent of the population is affected by these mutations, inheritors of drier skin and a greater chance of developing eczema.
When tap water contains a high concentration of minerals like magnesium and calcium, it's known as hard water. Those minerals can leave a film that turns the oils on your skin into a thick substance that plugs glands, aggravates conditions like acne and rosacea, and prevents moisturizers from being absorbed.
The Center for Disease Control recommends investing in a home filtration system. Or you can try adding skin-care products that contain vitamins A and C to counteract the coating deposited by hard water. Retinol is a vitamin A derivative, and can be found in our Repairing Night Cream.
Salicylic acid is great for treating acne, but it can dry out your skin when you first start using it. Dryness is a common side effect of retinol, too, which loosens the connection between cells on the skin’s surface.
The good news is that you don't have to give up these skin-care saviors. That’s why we start our acne regimen gently and build up concentrations of retinol over time.
“Because these materials are potent, pure, and active, and cause DNA expression changes at the cellular level, there are going to be biological responses from your skin as it adjusts,” said Dr. Steve. “And that's what you want, because the skin is smart, and it reacts and adapts so that you ultimately get healthier, younger looking, and better-looking skin.”
Take the diagnostic now!
How to treat dry skin on your face
Deal with your dry skin and start wearing dark shirts again without worry — that'd be cool, right? Try these dry skin treatments:
Ceramides are a class of lipid molecules that we produce naturally, a "glue" that holds skin structure together. “They're kind of greasy and oily by nature, so they’re perfectly suited at providing a moisturization mechanism,” said Dr. Steve.
Unlike hyaluronic acid, which moisturizes by sucking in water anywhere and everywhere, ceramides repel water and support the skin barrier so the moisture that you have in your skin doesn't escape. Thing is, as we age, our skin cells produce less ceramides, which is why many companies produce synthetic ceramides as a replacement.
The leaves of this magic cactus-like plant have long been regarded as a skin savior. “It produces a gel that is rich in vitamins A, E, C and B12, and has been used for centuries to help with skin issues like acne, dry skin, uneven skin tone, and eczema,” said Dr. Steve.
Having an Aloe Vera plant nearby to break off a leaf can help develop your green thumb while keeping your face happy. Or, you can try our Vital Morning Face Cream — aloe vera is the very first ingredient.
Lactic acid, derived from milk and naturally produced by muscle tissues, is an exfoliant that has moisture-retaining properties to help even out the skin tone. It's commonly used in chemical peels. While exfoliation is a pillar to every skincare routine, most guys don’t have the bandwidth to do it.
That's why using a liquid exfoliant instead of a scrub can be a game changer, as it can dissolve the connection between skin cells and help other ingredients in a regimen to work more effectively. You can find lactic acid in over-the-counter products easily.
Add moisture to the air
Plug in a humidifier — or check to see if your home heating system has a humidifier. Running a humidifier pulls moisture back into the air to improve dry, itchy skin and help it retain hydration.
Hyaluronic Acid: The key moisturizer
At the proper formulation, you can’t find a more effective liquid exfoliant than hyaluronic acid, another naturally-occurring molecule in the skin. Used regularly, it locks in moisture from the outside, like water vapor in humid air, to hydrate, plump, and smooth the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
If you experience occasional dry skin, you can likely treat it with a sensitive skincare regimen — we've put hyaluronic acid in our Vital Morning Face Cream. If you develop severe dry skin, however, make an appointment with your doctor.
Take the diagnostic now!
Why is my skin so dry even when I moisturize?
Dr. Steve said: “Some people have a greater propensity to dry skin. There was a recent discovery that one of the drivers of eczema (atopic dermatitis) was actually a mutation in something called filaggrin filament, an aggregating protein. It's a key component of your skin barrier that the epithelial skin cells produce to give you smooth skin. That genetic mutation is very common, it appears in about half of all patients with eczema, so maybe 10% of people probably have this mutation, and increases the risk of dry skin, eczema, etc. So you might need stronger medicines or drugs to maintain that skin barrier.
“Certainly the environment you’re in matters too. So you might have dry skin in the dead of winter in Chicago, but if you lived in South Florida year round with the higher humidity in the air, dry skin would be less of an issue.”
Can you really cure dry skin on your face overnight?
Dr. Steve said: “No. The term ‘dry skin' is a catch all. It doesn't necessarily mean moisturizers are the answers, because it could be other skin problems. In other words, there's no curing dry skin with moisturizer if you have some kind of deeper skin problem. You might need more topical medicines or even orals.”
How to fix dry patches on face
Dr. Steve said: “The dry patches could be eczema or something called petaloid dermatitis, which are scaly patches on the face that are actually driven by dandruff.
Again, dry skin doesn't just mean you're not moisturizing enough — it could be a different disease.”
How Geologie can help your dry skin
Go personalized! Take our skincare quiz for a personalized skincare routine just for you and your dry skin.
Not ready for a full routine? Try our Hydrating Face Cream with SPF10. This moisturizer is perfect for dry skin. It contains hyaluronic acid - the ultimate hydrating ingredient - to provide all day moisture to dry skin.
Still not sure? Browse our entire catalog of face creams and moisturizers for dry skin.