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dry skin type

What to Know About Having a Dry Skin Type

Understanding Dry Skin

Dry skin is characterized by inadequate moisture or oil in the skin that leads to common dry-skin symptoms such as tightness, discomfort, flakiness, itchiness, and a lackluster appearance. Most often, dry skin is caused by insufficient sebum production, resulting in a lack of essential lipids responsible for preventing moisture loss and protecting the skin from external irritants. Due to an impaired barrier function, those with dry skin are more susceptible to sensitivity, dehydration, and increased risk of fine lines and wrinkles.


Various factors can cause dry skin, including genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle habits such as using harsh skincare products or taking hot showers. Proper treatment of dry skin involves using gentle, hydrating skincare products that fortify the skin’s moisture barrier and avoiding triggers that exacerbate dryness.

Identifying Dry Skin

Factors such as genetics, environmental conditions, and lifestyle habits can contribute to dry skin. To determine if you have dry skin, check for common symptoms like tightness, discomfort, flaking, itchiness, and a dull appearance. While markers of dry skin may vary with age and lifestyle, those with dry skin may be prone to sensitivity, irritation, and an increased risk of fine lines and wrinkles. Dry skin may also feel less elastic and supple to the touch due to the absence of adequate natural oils and insufficient water retention. Managing and treating dry skin may involve using gentle, hydrating skincare products and avoiding triggers that worsen dryness like harsh soaps and detergents, excessive heat, and overwashing.

Characteristics of Dry Skin

Dry skin may appear dull and feel rough, flaky, or scaly to the touch. Sensations of tightness or irritation are also common symptoms of dry skin, which may lack plumpness and elasticity due to water loss and inadequate production of sebum. In addition, fine lines, cracks, or fissures may be present on the surface. Dry skin's appearance can vary depending on an individual's age, genetics, environment, and overall health. It may be more prone to developing redness, itching, or inflammation. Areas commonly affected by dryness include the face, arms, legs, and hands. Severe cases may lead to bleeding or painful cracks.

Dry Skin Texture

Dry skin typically feels rough, tight, or flaky due to impaired moisture retention and inadequate oil production. It may also have a scaly or cracked appearance. The texture can vary depending on factors such as underlying health conditions, environmental factors, and topical skincare products used. For example, dead skin cells can build up on the skin's surface, creating a rough texture and preventing moisture penetration. If you're concerned about your skin's texture or experiencing discomfort, consult with a skincare professional for personalized recommendations and treatment options.

Causes of Dry Skin

Dry skin can result from factors that affect the skin's natural moisture balance, leading to a rough, flaky, or scaly texture. Potential causes include genetics, environmental conditions, lifestyle habits, hormonal changes, underlying health conditions, overexfoliation and use of irritating skincare products.


Common environmental factors contributing to dry skin include low humidity, cold or windy weather, and pollution. Underlying health conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and thyroid disorders can also cause dry skin, as can aging.


Hormonal changes during pregnancy or menopause, living in dry or polluted environments, and lifestyle habits such as taking long, hot showers or not getting enough sleep can contribute to dryness. Identifying the underlying cause is crucial for developing an effective treatment plan. Consult with a dermatologist if you experience persistent dryness or discomfort, as they can help identify the cause and provide personalized recommendations.


While exfoliation is beneficial to remove superficial dead skin cells, evening skin texture and improving skin permeability for skincare, exfoliating too frequently or with actives at too high a concentration can damage an intact skin barrier and exacerbate dryness. Evaluate your skin’s tolerability and if redness, stinging, or irritation occur when using an exfoliating product decrease your frequency of use or change to a new more gentle exfoliating product.

Caring for Dry Skin

A multifaceted approach is needed to care for dry skin, including lifestyle changes, skincare products, and other treatments recommended by your dermatologist. To avoid aggravating the symptoms of dry skin, limit long baths/showers and exposure to hot water. Use gentle skincare products which can vary based on your skin’s tolerability. Choose a mild, fragrance-free cleanser and apply a fragrance-free moisturizer immediately after showering or bathing while the skin is still damp to lock in moisture and prevent transepidermal water loss. Look for moisturizers with hydrating ingredients such as ceramides, fatty acids and glycerin. While extreme, persistent dryness may require professional consultation, the symptoms of dry skin can be mitigated with preventative lifestyle measures and the right topical ingredients.

What is the Appropriate Skin Care Routine for a Dry Skin Type?

Cleanse: Start and end each day by cleansing with a mild and hydrating cleanser. Look for a cream or lotion-based cleanser or a cleanser with clinically proven hydration that effectively removes impurities without stripping the skin's natural oils. Rinse with lukewarm water to avoid hot temperatures that further irritate dry, sensitive skin. If you wear heavy makeup or sunscreen, consider doing a double cleanse, removing sunscreen, makeup, and debris with an oil-based cleanser, and following with a water-based cleanser to ensure thorough cleansing without stripping the skin of its natural oils.


For a thorough cleanse, we like Gleanser, our non-drying, Glycerin based cleanser designed for the face and body. Formulated with 50% glycerin, Gleanser effectively removes makeup, oil and impurities without compromising your skin's essential moisture barrier. The humectant-rich formula is further enhanced with oat extract, aloe, and arginine, which work together to soothe and comfort dry, dehydrated skin.


Exfoliate: (1-2 times a week): Incorporate a chemical exfoliant containing alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) into your routine. These ingredients work by dissolving the bond between skin cells to encourage cell turnover and reveal brighter, softer, and more radiant complexion. If done once or twice a week, chemical exfoliation enables the hydrating, nourishing skincare products that follow to better absorb into the skin.


Moisturize: For daytime use, apply a nourishing and lightweight moisturizer. Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, which attracts and retains moisture, or ceramides, which strengthen the skin's barrier function. In the evening, consider applying a richer and more nourishing moisturizer at night to provide intensive hydration while you sleep. Slugging, the use of using a petrolatum-based product as a final step, can help to seal in your skin’s moisture and reduce symptoms of dry skin.


Combat dryness, soothe irritation, and achieve well-nourished, hydrated skin with Prequel's Barrier Therapy cream. This skin protectant cream for face and body is specially crafted to ease irritation and itchiness caused by dryness and eczema. Its potent blend of colloidal oatmeal, a multi-ceramide blend, allantoin, and adenosine ensures quick absorption and delivers relief to dry, distressed skin.


For targeted relief on extra dry spots, complement your skincare routine with a protective ointment like Skin Utility Multi-Purpose Skin Protectant. Formulated with 45% petrolatum and specifically designed to seal in moisture, this ointment protects dry, chapped, cracked and irritated skin with a comfortable, occlusive barrier.


Fortify: Apply a nourishing and reparative serum with ingredients that soothe, calm, and replenish skin’s hydration. They can contain ingredients like polyglutamic acid, ectoin, beta glucan, or oat extract.


Protect: During the day time, finish with a broad spectrum sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30 that provides protection against UVA and UVB rays. Look for a moisturizing sunscreen formula to add an extra layer of hydration.





DISCLAIMER: All skin care articles are intended to help educate on specific ingredients and skin care topics. Our articles are written to be informative and informational. Any reference to a specific patient experience is not a medical suggestion for treatment. Please note that any Prequel products with referenced ingredients are formulated for Cosmetic Use Only and NOT intended as replacements for physician advice and/or pharmaceutical product recommendations.

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