Moisture, Skin Science, How To

Dry Facial Skin: Causes & Treatment

by Neutrogena
April 16, 2023

Avoiding the culprits behind dry skin are just as important as using the right products.

Dry Facial Skin Explained

The body has a built-in mechanism to keep the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the epidermis) moisturized. When this mechanism is not working optimally, moisture loss can lead to irritation and can cause skin to look parched. Dry facial skin often feels "tight" and uncomfortable after washing, unless moisturizer or skin cream is applied. Dryness is exacerbated by wind, extremes of temperature and air-conditioning, all of which cause the skin to flake, chap and feel tight. Skin may look dull, especially on the cheeks and around the eyes, and there may be tiny expression lines on these spots and at the corners of the mouth.

Seasonal Strategies for Dry Skin

Faces with a tendency for dry skin – that is, a weakened moisture barrier function resulting in excessive transepidermal water loss where too much skin moisture evaporates into the atmosphere - are complexions influenced by internal factors such as genetics, health issues and age. Many are not negotiable. On the other hand, there are many things you can do to neutralize those dry skin triggers that are external, environmental and seasonal.

Winter cold

Freezing cold or dampness outside coupled with stifling heat indoors can be a primary culprit for this toughest of dry skin seasons. Now is the time to switch to highly efficacious and hydrating facial moisturizers and don't forget to apply moisture to your lips. Some people find using a humidifier indoors to be beneficial as well.

Summer heat

Summer's air conditioning can exacerbate dry skin the way heaters do in the winter; leeching humidity out of the air. Here too you might want to consider switching to a more hydrating moisturizer if you will be in air conditioning for more than a few hours. Chlorinated pools and salty seas are harsh on dry skin unless you rinse your face with clear water right after. Air travel is also notorious for dehydration. During air travel, skin responds well to frequent reapplication of moisturizers to help prevent uncomfortable dryness.

Dry facial skin often feels “tight” and uncomfortable after washing.

Year round relief

Those with dry skin on their faces would do well to seek moisturizers containing:

  • Hyaluronic Acid – Naturally found in skin, it is a powerful hydrator that attracts moisture and locks it in. We lose Hyaluronic acid over time, but Neutrogena® Hydro Boost formulas with added HA, works to help keep skin hydrated and looking 'plumped', resulting in supple, smooth skin.
  • Glycerin – A superbly efficient humectant that attracts water - either from the air or from deeper in the skin below - to lubricate skin's surface stratum corneum layer.
  • Sunscreen – Sunscreens come in different formulations and varying SPFs. Sun exposure can be particularly detrimental for those with dry skin because it can add aging structural damage on top of skin that's already hurting from a weakened moisture barrier function. People who experience dry facial skin may feel more comfortable with a physical sunscreen (that is, containing micronized zinc oxide or titanium dioxide ingredients) rather than a chemically absorbing one (with ingredients such as octinoxate or avobenzone). Whichever you choose, broad spectrum sunscreens will help preserve not only the look of your skin but the valuable, softening hydration within it.

We recommend that you consult your dermatologist or physician for proper diagnosis and treatment.

  • Resource: Bauman, Leslie MD. Cosmetic Dermatology: Principles & Practice. The McGraw-Hill Companies, Medical Publishing Division
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