Why Is My Skin So Dry Even When I Moisturize?
When you have dry skin, you use a moisturizer, right? While this simple solution works for many, it’s not a foolproof remedy for 100% of situations. Indeed, it’s more than possible to have dry skin even after you moisturize it thoroughly or follow a good skincare routine to the letter.
Today, let’s break down why your skin might be so dry even when you moisturize. We will also go over ways to help you fix dryness on a more consistent basis.
What Causes Dry Skin?
According to dermatologists, you can get dry skin on your face, hands, feet, and anywhere else due to several potential reasons. Some of the most common causes of dry skin include:
- A dry climate or temperature. For example, lots of people experience temporary dry skin in the winter, when humidity tends to be lower than usual.
- Over-washing your face or hands. When you wash your face or hands too much, you strip away a healthy, natural oil called sebum. Your skin makes sebum to prevent itself from drying out during the day. Similarly, using an exfoliating product too often can lead to dehydrated skin if you naturally have this skin type.
- Genetics. Some people simply have drier skin than average, while others may have the opposite problem where their skin produces too much sebum and it feels oily as a result.
- Exposure to chemicals or pollutants. For example, spending a lot of time in inner-city environments could cause your skin to become dry. When your skin is exposed to lots of exhaust fumes and other toxins, it could fail to produce as much sebum as it should or suffer other secondary side effects.
How Does Moisturizer Help?
In a nutshell, moisturizer lotions assist by both providing your skin with hydration in the form of water while also giving your skin cells extra nutrients, such as hyaluronic acid, to prevent dehydration or flaky skin conditions from occurring later. Some moisturizers also include certain compounds that seal in existing moisture, preventing that water from escaping over the next few hours.
- Help your skin feel a lot smoother and more moisturized immediately
- Alleviate the tightness, dryness, or irritation that can occur after a skincare routine or after a long day at work
- Help your skin produce the right amount of sebum without going overboard
With all these benefits and so much science on the side of moisturizers, they should immediately solve your dryness problems, right?
For many, it’s not that simple, especially if they have skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, or topical dermatitis.
Why Is My Skin Still Dry After Using Moisturizer?
Some folks moisturize and still find their skin to be too dry for comfort. There are several potential reasons for this.
For example, if you overwash your skin, you could make it dry by accident.
Remember, your skin produces a certain amount of sebum naturally. The sebum plays a vital role in keeping your skin moisturized throughout the day. This natural moisturization element is also essential for maintaining your skin’s pH level (your skin is supposed to be slightly acidic by default).
If you wash your skin too much, such as three times or more per day, or wash your skin with harsh chemicals like hand soap, you can wash away too much of the sebum as well. In turn, your skin will become a lot drier than usual.
Even worse, over-washing your skin can lead to oily skin and acne outbreaks if you aren't careful. Some individuals find that their skin produces extra sebum if it all gets washed away suddenly. This, in turn, can cause the sebum to be packed into skin pores, along with debris like dirt and dead skin cells.
Once those pores are clogged, pus can collect underneath, leading to acne outbreaks. Essentially, you should only wash your skin twice per day, once in the morning and once in the evening.
You should also only wash your face with lukewarm, clear water, never using soap or anything designed for use on your hands and body instead of your face. Hot water or not enough water can lead to flaking or irritation.
Alternatively, you might find your skin is still dry even after you moisturize it if your moisturizer has harmful ingredients. Certain chemicals, such as astringents, may draw moisture to the surface of your skin so much that it dehydrates the lower levels of your skin.
Other harmful ingredients, like synthetic chemicals, can destroy the skin barrier. The skin barrier is a layer of sebum, water, and bacteria that prevent your skin from drying out or becoming damaged. If your moisturizer product damages the skin barrier, dry skin will be only one of several side effects you could experience.
Bottom line: you should try to avoid using moisturizers or any other skincare products with harmful ingredients at all costs. Instead, target helpful ingredients to see hydrated skin, such as:
- Alpha hydroxy acids
Dry Weather or Sun Exposure
Lastly, you can also still have dry skin even after moisturizing it if you go outside and dry weather or expose your skin to a lot of solar radiation.
Dry weather is most common in the winter or in certain areas of the world, such as deserts. Even the best moisturizers can’t perfectly protect your skin from drying out, especially if you spend tons of time outdoors for your work or other reasons.
Spending time outdoors under the bright sunshine can dry out your skin because UV radiation damages your skin cells and the skin barrier. You might find that putting on sunscreen can alleviate dryness if you have to spend a lot of time outdoors in the sunshine.
In either case, moisturizers can be effective, but they aren’t foolproof remedies against skin dryness.
How Can I Make Moisturizer More Effective?
If you want your skin dryness to really be taken care of consistently, you’ll need to keep a few steps in mind.
First, you should only select moisturizers made with healthy, organic ingredients. Avoid moisturizers that have any synthetic chemicals or artificial astringents, as these can really do a number on your skin and make it feel more uncomfortable. The best ingredients include vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and glycolic acid.
Next, avoid over-washing your face, especially if you have recently applied a moisturizer. For example, if you apply moisturizer but wash your face 20 minutes later, you will wash most of the moisturizer away. Your skin cells will be exposed to the open air and could dry out very quickly.
Try to limit the time spent outside if the weather very dry or very sunny and you have sensitive skin. If you have to spend time outside, use a sunscreen product to defend your skin from damage.
On top of that, you should use moisturizer in conjunction with a healthy skincare routine. The right routine will remove dead skin cells and debris, enabling the moisturizer to penetrate more deeply into the pores of your skin and be more effective as a result.
Even if your skin remains stubbornly dry, moisturizing and getting a good night’s rest will eventually yield positive results. You can get that good night’s rest with our dedicated Melatonin Gummies, or check out our other supplements to maximize your bodily wellness and make seeing smooth, moisturized skin likelier every day.
Sebaceous gland lipids - PMC | NCBI
Natural skin surface pH is on average below 5, which is beneficial for its resident flora | NCBI
Skin Barrier Function - PMC | NCBI