7 Moisturizing Mistakes That Could Be Making Your Skin Dry
Ever wonder why your skin still feels dry, even after using lotion and moisturizing from head to toe? Let us help you get to the bottom of this all-too-common dilemma. From using the wrong moisturizer for your skin type to forgetting to exfoliate, we discuss seven of the top moisturizing mistakes that can leave your skin feeling dry, plus tips and tricks to get the most out of your moisturizers, ahead.
Of all the skin-care rules to follow, moisturizing is seriously non-negotiable. After all, hydrated skin is happy skin. But what happens when your skin continues to feel dry and dehydrated, even after you use lotions, cream and other hydrating skin-care products? Applying moisturizer to your body and face may seem easy but, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a technique to it. In addition to applying moisturizers and body lotions the correct way, you also want to be sure that your skin is prepped to receive moisture and that you are getting the most out of your skin hydrators. Not sure where to start? Let’s begin with what not to do.
Dry Skin Mistake #1: Your Cleanser Is Too Harsh
Even a top-shelf moisturizer cannot save you if you’re using a cleanser that dries out your skin on a regular basis. Many traditional cleansers, especially those that are formulated with harsh ingredients, can strip the skin of vital moisture. Not sure if yours is too harsh for your skin? Assess the way your skin feels after cleansing. If your skin feels tight or squeaky clean, chances are you’ve washed away oils and hydration your skin could use. To avoid this problem, make sure that you’re shopping for a cleanser catered to your skin type. So, if you have dry skin you should reach for more hydrating, nourishing cleansers that can replenish your skin’s moisture. “I like cream cleansers for dry skin,” explains board-certified dermatologist Dhaval Bhanusali, MD. No matter your skin type, if you’re using a cleanser that strips your skin of moisture, you’re starting off your skin-care routine wrong.
Dry Skin Mistake #2: You’re Not Moisturizing Immediately After You Wash
Fact: There is a right time to moisturize and it happens to be right after you've washed up. “Your skin has the most moisture when it’s wet and moisturizers work best when skin is already hydrated,” explains board-certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon, Michael Kaminer, MD. Kaminer adds that after you shower, water evaporates off your skin, which can leave it feeling more dry. After a shower or a bath, pat your skin dry and immediately reach for a body lotion of your choice. We're a fan of lightweight lotions in the warmer months and creamy body butters all winter. The same goes for after you wash your face — gently pat dry and massage a moisturizer into your skin, after your serum, toner and other treatment products. Remember: When you shower and wash your face (both morning and night) to use lukewarm water because hot water can strip your skin of its natural oils and leave it feeling extra dry.
Dry Skin Mistake #3: You’re Using the Wrong Moisturizer for Your Skin Type
Whenever you select a new skin-care product to add to your routine, you should always use one that's been formulated for your specific skin type. If you have dry skin and are using a moisturizer that is formulated for oily or blemish-prone skin, chances are this is why your skin isn’t responding the way you'd like it to. Dry skin requires a much different product than oily skin, oily skin requires a much different product than sensitive skin — and so on. When you have dry skin, look for a moisturizer that can provide your skin with a burst of hydration, nourishment and comfort upon application. You’ll also want to make sure you look at the product label for key hydrating ingredients, such as ceramides, glycerin and hyaluronic acid.
For maximum moisture, we recommend SkinCeuticals Emollience. Formulated with three nutrient-rich Brazilian algae extracts, this product nourishes skin and maintains skin’s natural hydration levels. If you have oily skin, look for a lightweight, oil-free formula that won't clog pores. We love the Vichy Aqualia Thermal Mineral Water Gel as its strengthens the skin’s moisture barrier while also providing a cooling sensation.
Dry Skin Mistake #4: You Have Dead Skin Cell Buildup
If you can’t remember the last time you exfoliated your skin's surface, that could be why your moisturizer isn't leaving your skin feeling, well, moisturized. Remember that gentle exfoliation is a necessary part of your skin-care routine, at least once a week. You can choose between chemical exfoliators formulated with acids or enzymes, or physical exfoliators, like scrubs and dry brushes. If you skip out on exfoliating it can cause dead skin cells to build up on the surface of your skin and make it near impossible for your lotions and moisturizers to do their jobs. If you’re into physical exfoliation, look to the L’Oréal Pure-Sugar Scrubs. All four products are formulated with a blend of pure sugars and provide a gentle yet effective exfoliation experience. While each of the scrubs target a different skin concern, they all eradicate dead skin cells on the surface of your skin.
Dry Skin Mistake #5: You’re Dehydrated
Another reason why your skin might still feel dry post-moisturizer is because it’s dehydrated. Though they house minor differences — dry skin lacks oil and dehydrated skin lacks water — dry skin and dehydrated skin are actually two different things. Even oily skin can experience dehydration. “Dehydrated skin can be the result of not drinking enough water or liquids, as well as using irritating or drying products that can strip the skin of its moisture,” explains board-certified dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD. “Look for skin-care products that boast hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, and keep your body hydrated by drinking the recommended amount of water.”
Dry Skin Mistake #6: You’re Applying It Wrong
If you're regularly exfoliating, using skin-care products that have been formulated for your skin type and applying your lotions and creams immediately after washing your skin but you still feel dry, it may be the technique you're using to apply your moisturizer. Instead of haphazardly swiping — or worse, aggressively rubbing — moisturizer on your skin, try a gentle, upwards massage. Doing this esthetician-approved technique can help you avoid tugging or pulling at the delicate parts of your face, like your eye contour.
What's more, pay attention to the amount of moisturizer, or other hydrating products that you use. Often the recommended amount is on the product label and can make all the difference in how your skin feels after applying.
Dry Skin Mistake #7: You’re Over Cleansing Your Skin
Although you may want your skin to feel completely clean of all debris, over-cleansing your skin is actually one of the worst mistakes you can make. This is because it disrupts your skin’s microbiome, the microscopic bacteria that make an impact in the way our skin looks and feels. Board-certified dermatologist Whitney Bowe, MD, reveals that washing the skin too frequently is actually the number one skin-care mistake she sees amongst her patients. “Any time that your skin feels really tight and dry and squeaky clean after cleansing, it probably means that you’re killing off some of your good bugs,” she says.
Now that we’ve got the common moisturizing mistakes covered, let’s discuss how you can get the most out of your products.
Dry Skin Tip #1: Prep Your Skin Your Moisture With a Toner
After cleansing your complexion and before applying moisturizer, be sure to prep the skin on your face for moisture with a facial toner. Facial toners can help to remove any excess dirt and impurities left over after cleansing and can balance your skin’s pH.
Toners can be notoriously drying, so make sure to opt for a hydrating option. One of our favorites is the Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Toner, formulated with squalane, avocado oil and vitamin E. This toner effectively removes debris while also hydrating your skin.
Dry Skin Tip #2: Use a Serum or Facial Oil Before Moisturizing
While serums and facial oils aren’t an absolute necessity for your skin-care routine, they do help lock in extra moisture. Serums can give you a moisture boost and simultaneously target other skin concerns such as signs of aging. We recommend opting for an antioxidant serum that’s formulated with vitamin C, such as SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic.
Dry Skin Tip #3: For Extra Moisture, Try a Hydrating Overnight Mask
In addition to prepping your skin for moisture, you may also want to consider applying a hydrating overnight mask once or twice a week. Overnight masks can help hydrate and replenish the skin during its regeneration process — AKA while you’re asleep — and leave the skin looking and feeling soft, smooth and hydrated come morning. We’re big fans of the Lancôme Énergie De Vie Night Mask. It’s packed with ingredients such as cranberry, lemon balm and ginseng and formulated to help your skin feel softer and more hydrated.