Dehydrated Skin – Best Treatments For Your Dry Skin

Sadie Groberg

Is it just me that experiences dehydrated skin in the winter?

No, it is not just you. Dehydrated skin is a burden that we all have to bear. As we gear up for the winter months and the weather begins to get colder, it is all too common to experience a shift in your skin’s texture. Most often, we notice our skin becoming drier and flakier beneath our scarves and beanies. Unfortunately, this change is not exclusive to people with regularly dry skin. Regardless of skin type, almost everyone experiences additional dryness during the winter. So, why does this happen? And is there anything that we can do about it?

Why does my skin get drier in the winter?

Let’s consider the science behind our dehydrated skin. Our facial skin serves as a barrier that protects us from the surrounding environment. The exterior of our epidermis traps in moisture, hydrating the skin. When we moisturize our faces, we strengthen this barrier of hydration. However, evaporation also occurs on the skin, especially when the weather is dry and cold. Similar to a wet sponge left outside, our facial pores will lose moisture more quickly in certain types of weather.

There are additional factors that may exacerbate water loss in the skin. Medicine and treatments designed to target acne typically involve a focus on the sebum (or oil) in the facial pores. If you are someone who uses any form of acne treatment, you may experience that your skin is more dry than usual. This will result in even greater dehydration during the winter months, so it is important to manually increase the amount of moisture on your face. Natural unrefined face oil can be a great product for adding necessary moisture.

Further, there are some inherent traits that may increase skin dehydration. If you have a dry skin type, then you likely are already aware that the winter encourages your skin to flake and scale. We also tend to lose moisture in the skin as we age, so the older you are, the more you will notice a difference. Some people also find that those with more pigmented or darker skin are more prone to dryness. If you recognize that you are someone who experiences dryness frequently, the colder months of the year can be particularly frustrating. However, with an appropriate moisturizing routine it can be more bearable.  

Can dehydration cause itchy skin?

Itchy skin is actually one of the most common signs of dehydrated skin. When the face skin is lacking in moisture, it tends to tighten up. This can cause itchiness and irritation that is quite unpleasant. This itchiness can occur not just on the face, but all over the body. Treating your skin with moisturizers should provide relief from the irritation. Internal hydration, like increasing your water intake, should also help.

Itchiness due to dehydration does not mean that anything is “wrong” with your body or health. However, conditions such as eczema and psoriasis as well as atopic dermatitis are often worsened by cold weather and subsequent dryness. Many people who deal with these skin issues experience flare-ups during the winter. If you are someone who has suffered from psoriasis and/or eczema in the past, you can unfortunately expect to see patches of dryness and irritation. These flare-ups may also look like rashes on the skin but can be treated easily. However, if you have dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, or a similar condition, it’s a good idea to consult a dermatologist and see if there is a specific medication that they recommend.

tretinoin and adapalene

How should I treat my dehydrated skin?

So, you’ve determined that you are experiencing dehydrated skin. Maybe it’s itchy, flaky, or just plain uncomfortable. What should you do about it? There are many ways to treat your dry skin, and they are best used in conjunction with one another.

To start, external dryness is absolutely related to dehydration on the inside of the body. When the weather becomes colder and drier, you should always make sure you are drinking enough water and keeping your body healthy. It might not feel like you need to hydrate as much when you aren’t sweating and losing liquids, but our bodies are very sensitive in the winter, and we need to take extra precautions to stay healthy.

Increasing your consumption of foods with high water content is also a good idea. This includes watermelon, cucumbers, celery, and many other fruits and vegetables. Some people prefer supplements or vitamins for hydration but eating a balanced diet and drinking lots of water should provide your body with enough moisture.

Once we are ensuring that our bodies are receiving enough hydration on the inside, we can focus on moisturizing the outside. The most important step of a moisturizing skincare routine is making sure that you are using the right face cream. Even better, pick a nourishing face serum together with a good eye serum to add nutrients in addition to moisture. There are many types of face creams and serums on the market, each with different properties and designed for different skin types. It’s important to select the product that will provide you with adequate and long-term hydration. Look for clean skincare face creams and serums and always read the labels and look at the ingredients.

Everyday care of dehydrated skin

In addition to a moisturizer, every step of your skincare regimen can be designed to encourage hydration. When selecting a cleanser, it should be a product that will gently wash the face without stripping your pores of their natural moisture. Cleansing oil is a very good way to cleanse your skin without drying it out.

Harsh toners and makeup removers should be avoided in the winter, or all year if you are someone with naturally dry skin. Especially toners with alcohol or any other product with denatured alcohol. You should avoid these drying products at any cost. Additionally, the nighttime is a wonderful opportunity to provide your skin with extra hydration. If you use a heavy night cream or serum that might be too intense for the day, but it is perfect for the hours when you are resting.   

vitamin c serum for face

Is it okay to use my usual skincare products when my skin is dry?

If you are taking care of your skin and using items that have natural ingredients, you should absolutely be able to continue using products such as acne treatments. There are many products available that treat blemishes without stripping the skin of its  moisture. Plant Mother has products that target imperfections without subjecting your face to any harsh chemicals that will dry it further. For example, Plant Mother’s Vitamin C serum is oil-based and carefully constructed to nourish the skin. Using a product with Vitamin C and niacinamide will help ensure that your face remains moisturized throughout the day.

If you are someone who uses harsher acne treatments such as retinol, you should be careful to select a vegan skincare option that will target blemishes without weakening the barrier of your skin. Plant Mother’s plant-based retinol serum is the best option for those who rely on acne treatment but want a clean alternative. As long as you are selective about the products that you purchase, there is no reason for dehydrated skin to prevent you from enjoying your typical skincare regimen.

Why isn’t my makeup applying the way that it normally does?

Another side effect of dry and dehydrated skin that you may notice is that your makeup doesn’t settle on the face the way that it normally does. You may see your skin flake under the products that you apply, or patches of dryness may appear throughout the day. You can absolutely still wear makeup on top of dehydrated skin, as long as you are careful about application.

Before applying your makeup, the skin should be properly moisturized. This will help to create a layer of protection for the face and allow your makeup to last longer. Substituting your typical primer for a thick layer of moisturizer will let everything be applied more smoothly as well. Also, you can be thoughtful about selecting the best foundation for dry skin.

Further, avoid using excess powder to set your makeup. Apply powder only where necessary to prevent excessive dryness. If you still feel that your makeup is drying out your skin, you can try misting a layer of hydrating spray in between each step of your routine. Following these tips should help your face remain hydrated throughout the day while still allowing you to wear the makeup look that you love.

What is “slugging”? Should I be doing this to treat my dehydrated skin?

Unfortunately, the dry winter months tend to be brutal. It’s possible that you may do everything you can to keep your skin hydrated and it’s still not enough. The good thing is that you are certainly not alone, and the internet has your back. People are constantly trying out new skincare hacks and sharing what they’ve found with the world.

A trend that has gained recent traction on Reddit is “slugging.” Although the name sounds strange, slugging is supported by many dermatologists. The process involves applying a thick layer of petroleum jelly to the face in order to create a layer of moisture. This serves as an “occlusive,” or something that prevents the face from losing moisture. You can use Vaseline, Aquaphor, or whatever product you have lying around in your home. Just slather your face in the petroleum jelly before bed, and your skin will be all the more hydrated when you wake up. Slugging tends to feel slightly sticky and uncomfortable, but it definitely pays off. Thanks, Reddit!

Will my skin be this dry forever?

Suffering from dry skin is annoying and uncomfortable. Adjusting to colder weather is already hard enough without having to account for flaky and itchy skin. However, if there’s one thing we know, it’s that no skincare problem is untreatable. By following these specific tips and being selective with your product purchases, you can help to protect your moisture barrier. It might take some trial and error to find out what works best for you, but it is certainly worth it. With a little bit of effort, you can enjoy the cold weather with a lovely, moisturized face.

Medical Disclaimer:

This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. The publisher of this content does not take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, skincare product, or lifestyle program.

Sadie Groberg
Sadie Groberg is currently a student at Cornell University studying global development and incarceration. Sadie is passionate about the environment, skincare, and writing. In addition to writing for Plant Mother, Sadie writes about food for the Cornell Daily Sun. She is a vegan and loves to cook for her friends and family.