Why Your Skin May Still Be Dry, Even After Moisturizing
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 a serious 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 be as easy as it looks—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 you are getting the most out of your skin hydrators. Not sure where to start? Let’s start with what not to do. Keep reading to find out what common moisturizer mistakes to avoid (plus, tips and tricks for how to get the most out of your lotions and creams.
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 and Skincare.com consultant, Dr. Dhaval Bhanusali. 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. Don’t know which cleanser to grab? Take this simple quiz to help you determine which cleanser is best for your skin type!
Editor’s note: Facial cleansers aren’t the only culprit. Keep an eye on the products you’re using to clean your body skin. Turn to nourishing bar soaps or creamy body washes to ensure your skin is soft from head to toe.
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, cosmetic surgeon, and Skincare.com expert, Dr. Michael Kaminer, In addition, Kaminer suggests that after you shower, water evaporates off your skin quickly and can leave your skin feeling more dry. So after a shower or a bath, after patting dry, immediately reach for the body lotion of your choice—we're keen on lightweight lotions in the warmer months and creamy body butters all winter—and massage it all over your skin. Same goes for after you wash your face. Gentle pat dry and then after applying your serums, massage on the moisturizer that best suits your skin type and needs. Remember when you shower and wash your face morning and night to use lukewarm water and not hot water. Hot water can strip your skin of its natural oils and leave it feeling extra dry.
3. YOU’RE USING THE WRONG MOISTURIZER FOR YOUR SKIN TYPE
That brings us to our next point. 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, which can include ceramides, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid.
For maximum moisture, we recommend SkinCeuticals Emollience. Formulated with three nutrient-rich Brazilian algae extracts, this formula nourishes skin and maintains skin’s natural hydration levels. If you have oily skin, look for lightweight, oil-free formulas that won't clog pores or leave you with a weighed down, greasy feeling. We love the Vichy Aqualia Thermal Mineral Water Gel as its strengthens the skin’s moisture barrier while also providing a cooling sensation. Curious to know more? Check out our guide to finding the best moisturizer for your skin type.
4. YOU HAVE DEAD SKIN CELL BUILDUP
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 enyzmes—glycolic acid is a favorite—or physical exfoliators like scrubs and dry brushes. If you skip out on exfoliation 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. By exfoliating you help to rid your skin of that buildup and make way for your moisturizer.
f you’re into physical exfoliation, look to the L’Oréal Pure-Sugar Scrubs. All four all formulated with a blend of three pure sugars and each provide a gentle yet effective exfoliation experience. While each of the scrubs targets a different skin concern, they all eradicate dead skin cells on the surface of your skin. To learn more, check out the benefits of each scrub, here!
5. YOU’RE DEHYDRATED
Another reason why your skin might still feel dry post-moisturizer is because your skin is 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. And guess what? Even oily skin can experience dehydration. “Dehydrated skin can be the result of not drinking enough water or liquids, [as well as] irritating or dry products [that] can strip the skin of its moisture,” explains board-certified dermatologist and Skincare.com expert, Dr. Dendy Engelman. So, how do you stay hydrated? “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.”
Not getting enough water? Try one of our spa fruit water recipes!
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 immediatley after washing your skin and you still feel dry, it may be the technique you're using to apply your moisturizer and not the moisturizer at all. Instead of haphazardly swiping—or worse, aggressively rubbing—moisturizer onto 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, cream, of other hydrating product 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.
7. YOU’RE OVER CLEANSING YOUR SKIN
While 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 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 and Skincare.com consultant Dr. Whitney Bowe 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 moisturizers and body lotions:
PREP YOUR SKIN FOR 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 toner. One of our favorites is the Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Toner. Formulated with squalene, avocado oil, and vitamin E, this toner effectively removes debris while also hydrating your skin. Check out our complete list of hydrating toners, here!
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 with locking in extra moisture. While serums can give you a moisture boost, they can also 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 the SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic.
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 chock-full of antioxidants such as goji berry, lemon, balm, gentian, and vitamin E. It’s formulated to help your skin feel softer and more hydrated, restoring your radiance by morning. We have a full list of our all-time favorite overnight masks, here!
For more on moisturizing, see our beginner’s guide to moisturizing, here.