Dry skin can be frustrating but there are some ways you could unknowingly be making it more difficult to manage. To help determine which skin-care habits could be making your dry skin worse, INSIDER spoke to board-certified dermatologists and other skin-care experts.
Here are some things they recommend you avoid doing if your skin is feeling especially dry.
Don’t wash your face too often
Even just washing your face with water can dry out your skin, said board-certified dermatologist Adam Friedman, MD, FAAD, advisor to Remedy Review.
“People with dry skin should minimize washing to avoid additional dryness,” Dr. Caroline A. Chang, FAAD, a dermatologist and a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University,previously told INSIDER. “Wash morning and evening with a gentle face wash that cleanses but doesn’t strip the skin of oil. Before activities, use a makeup remover wipe instead of washing.”
Friedman said exfoliants can damage your skin barrier and make your skin even drier. A damaged skin barrier can also create more opportunities for allergens, irritants, and pathogens to gain entry into your skin, he added.
Although exfoliating can be important, Michael Nova, MD, and board-certified dermatopathologist and chief innovation officer for Pathway OME, previously told INSIDER that “it’s important to not overdo it.” He said you should exfoliate only once or twice a week.
Don’t apply moisturizer to your skin without dampening your skin first
“Most moisturizers are really moisture-blockers, meaning they prevent water from evaporating from the skin and [they] create a gradient to push it into the skin,” Friedman explained. He said applying moisturizer to dry skin will temporarily soften your skin but applying it to wet skin can be more effective in the long run.
Avoid products that contain glycolic acid
“Choose a lactic acid cleanser over a glycolic acid cleanser,” said board-certified dermatologist Dr. Monica Bonakdar. She explained that glycolic acid is a strong exfoliant but it can make dry skin even worse. She said she recommends using lactic acid cleansers because they gently exfoliate your skin while also hydrating it.
Don’t skip out on applying moisturizer
“Don’t leave your house without applying a rich moisturizer,” said celebrity esthetician Dr. Maribel Pedrozo. She suggested using ones that contain lipids and squalene. Applying them is important because they rehydrate the top layer of skin cells and help seal in the moisture, she explained.
Avoid excessively using diuretics like alcohol and caffeine
“Patients with dry skin should also avoid excessive use of diuretics, [like] alcohol and caffeine, and watch their salt intake,” facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon Inessa Fishman, MD. told INSIDER.
On the other hand, she said it’s important to make sure you’re consuming a sufficient amount of vitamin C (which is important for collagen production),protein, and healthy fats (such as those found in avocados).
Don’t use heavily scented products
“If your skin is dry, it is not wise to use heavily scented lotions or creams,” said board-certified dermatologist Dr. Richard Torbeck with Advanced Dermatology PC. These fragrances and scents may further irritate your skinso you may want to opt for unscented or lightly scented products instead.
If possible, avoid triggers that can cause an eczema flare-up — especially if your skin is already dry
Although not all cases of dry skin are eczema, if you’re prone to eczema flare-ups, you may want to figure out what triggers them. Some known eczema triggers include things like pet dander or pollen, according to the National Eczema Association.
These triggers can vary from person to person. And once you’ve begun figuring out what yours are, you should avoid them when possible, Dr. Torbeck told INSIDER. He said this is especially important during times when you’re already dealing with dry skin because you become more likely to have an eczema flare-up or come in contact with the allergen exposures that can cause them.