There are few things worse (beauty-wise!) than having dry, rough, flaking, itchy— or, ouch, cracked— skin on your face. Not only can parched skin look unsightly, even making your face appear older than it is and makeup difficult to use, but it also can be itchy and painful and make your complexion vulnerable to other issues, like sensitivity and redness.
We asked top skin experts, including dermatologists and Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab scientists, for his or her best advice on the causes of and coverings for dry skin on the face.
What causes dry, flaky skin and dry patches on the face?
There is a laundry list of possible culprits, from the weather and environment to certain products and skin conditions. “Lack of hydration in the skin makes your complexion dull and accentuates wrinkles, and it’s more likely to occur in winter,” explains Jeanine Downie, M.D., a dermatologist at Image Dermatology in Montclair, New Jersey.
“Cold and windy conditions may dehydrate your face thanks to lack of humidity within the environment, and dryness also can be caused by irritating products which will strip natural oils, like those with alcohol, astringents, and harsh acids.” Other potential factors prompting dry skin on the face can include over-cleansing or exfoliating, which may also deplete skin’s oils, also as skin and health conditions that cause skin dehydration, like atopic eczema (eczema), psoriasis, and diabetes.
How to treat dry skin on the face:
By making small lifestyle changes and selecting the proper skincare products, you’ll stop dry skin and nix flaky patches on your face pretty quickly. Here are dermatologist- and expert-approved ways to hydrate parched skin fast:
1. Reach for a hydrating lotion or cream.
According to GH Beauty Labs testing, “face lotions and creams are generally more hydrating than oils, serums, and other formulas — and that they can increase skin’s moisture for hours,” says GH Beauty Lab Director Birnur Aral, Ph.D. search for products with “humectants, like glycerin and mucopolysaccharide, which may bind or hold on to water effectively,” Aral says, and “ingredients that help repair the skin barrier, like niacinamide and ceramides.”
Our top pick is sweet Housekeeping Seal star Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream. In our tests, it raised hydration by 50 percent over 24 hours, quite the other facial skincare product the Lab has evaluated. See this alongside the GH Beauty Lab’s best-tested moisturizers for dry skin on the face, below.
2. Moisturize often.
“The best treatment to replenish skin hydration is applying a topical face moisturizer [like the above] morning and evening,” Dr. Downie says. Consistency is key: Moisturizing skin twice daily (not just once you see or feel symptoms of dryness) will keep skin healthy long-term and stop dehydration from occurring within the first place.
3. And moisturize correctly.
To help heal dehydrated skin quickly, apply a layer of face moisturizer on clean heal the other skincare products like serums or treatments. Massage your moisturizer into skin employing a circular motion. “The technique helps push hydrating ingredients deeper into rough patches and dry lines for an instantaneous plumping effect,” says Ava Shamban, M.D., a dermatologist in l. a.
4. Give lips extra hydration.
Your lips are often the foremost parched area of all since they need fewer protective layers of skin. Apply an upscale ointment or treatment whenever you moisturize your face, including morning and evening, and throughout the day as required, since eating and drinking can remove the merchandise.
The most effective formulas contain a mixture of moisturizing ingredients (e.g. plant oils like sunflower and castor and emollients like squalane and triglycerides) and occlusive ingredients (such as petrolatum, beeswax or plant waxes and butter-like shea and cocoa), which form a protective barrier to lock within the nourishment and hydrate, too, Aral explains. The GH Beauty Lab picks below, Kiehl’s ointment #1, contains the moisturizer squalane and occlusive petrolatum.
5. Use a mild face cleanser.
Don’t grab unspecified soap: Some face washes can over-cleanse skin, exacerbating dryness. “A sulfate- and soap-free cleanser specifically for the face are going to be pH-balanced and delicate to take care of skin’s barrier without stripping,” says Whitney Bowe, M.D., a replacement York City dermatologist and author of the sweetness of Dirty Skin.
For dry skin on the face, choose a formula that also contains moisturizing ingredients, like glycerin. Cetaphil Daily Face Cleanser was a winner of the GH Beauty Lab’s face cleansers test, scoring well for creating skin feel soft and hydrated, and helps to comb away dirt and makeup without stripping skin of oils or leaving skin feeling dried out.
6. Turn down the heat when you wash your face.
Hot and steamy water might feel amazing, but it is often harmful to skin, Dr. Bowe says, by disrupting the barrier, which may cause sensitivity. “For the foremost skin-friendly cleanse, confirm the water temperature is lukewarm and test it with a finger first,” suggests GH Beauty Lab senior chemist Sabina Wizemann. you’ll also try washing your face only within the evening to avoid dehydrating skin, rinsing with just water within the morning instead, suggests Tess Mauricio, M.D., a dermatologist in San Diego.
7. Be smart with exfoliation.
While you’ll consider exfoliation as how to slough off dry, flaky patches, a harsh face peel or scrub is that the enemy of parched skin, because it can disrupt the skin’s moisture barrier and take away its naturally-occurring hydrating oils. Avoid stronger acids like glycollic acid and rougher exfoliants like sugar and salt.
Instead, if you’ve got dry skin on your face, try a gentler face peel formula with a carboxylic acid or fruit acids or face scrub with round jojoba beads, which are less likely to be abrasive on the skin. GH Beauty Lab test winner No7 Radiant Results Revitalising Face Daily Face Polish is full of nourishing ingredients to softly lift away dead skin without additional irritation. Just make certain to limit the use of your exfoliator to once per week, the GH Beauty Lab recommends, to avoid dehydrating the skin.
8. Invest in a humidifier.
“I always recommend that my patients use a humidifier while they sleep to spice up skin’s moisture levels,” Dr. Downie advises because it combats dry air which will parch skin.
9. Deep treat flaky spots.
A GH beauty editor go-to trick for curing dry skin overnight: Seal your moisturizer in with a thick coat of an upscale balm or ointment which will be applied to facial skin, like Aquaphor, which has the great Housekeeping Seal. It functions as an occlusive, locking hydrating skincare ingredients and moisture into skin as you sleep so you awaken softer, smoother, and fewer parched.
If you’re heading outdoors for extended periods of your time in cold, dry winter weather, the balm acts sort of a “coat” for your face, protecting any exposed skin from the weather and preventing the skin from becoming chapped or irritated.
Moisturized skin comes from The within out, too. “Drinking enough water improves skin hydration,” Dr. Downie says. “Aim for eight glasses, or 64 fluid ounces, of water [or other sugar-free beverages, like coffee, tea, and sparkling or flavored water] per day.”