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7 Skincare Mistakes to Avoid for Dry Skin

June 18, 2023

7 Skincare Mistakes to Avoid for Dry Skin

Dealing with dry skin can be tricky. Whether you naturally tend to have dry skin or suffer from it seasonally, you’re most likely familiar with the tightness, uneven texture, and flaking that can occur.

Unfortunately, dry skin can lead to negative short and long-term effects. Not only can it cause itching, irritation, and dullness, but over time, it can lead to fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging—all signs of premature aging.

In order to effectively treat and prevent dry skin, it’s important to be aware of the misconceptions out there about this skin type. Keep reading to learn about seven things to avoid if you have dry skin, as well as some helpful alternatives to keep your skin moisturized, plump, and glowing.

Mistake #1: Using the Wrong Products

There are thousands of skincare products on the market today, and not all of them are created equally. Browsing the skincare aisle to find products that suit your specific skin type and concerns can be overwhelming, but it’s critical to keeping your skin nourished.

What works for one skin type may not work for another. For example, someone with oily skin may benefit from using a lightweight gel moisturizer during the day, while this might not provide enough moisture for someone with dry skin. Similarly, a thick, heavy night cream may do wonders for someone with dry skin, while this type of formula might be too heavy for someone with oily or sensitive skin.

If you have dry skin, but feel like your current lineup of products just isn’t cutting it, it may be time to explore some options specifically created for your skin type.

Alternative: Rather than reaching for any old product, it’s important for those with dry skin to do a little bit of research to determine the best ingredients for them. Oftentimes, products specifically formulated for dry skin types provide a good amount of moisture while staying away from any potentially harsh ingredients. 

Mistake #2: Mixing Too Many Ingredients

When dealing with dry skin, it’s tempting to apply a lot of different products to solve the problem. While the right products can certainly help, introducing too many different products into your routine can actually irritate the skin and cause it to become even more dry.

For example, both retinol and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are incredible ingredients for the skin. Retinol is known to help stimulate collagen, encourage cell turnover, fade pigmentation, soften wrinkles, and even fight acne. AHAs have been shown to exfoliate, brighten, plump, and smooth the skin.

However, when used at the same time, retinol and AHAs can irritate the skin and lead to stinging, redness, flaking, and peeling. If you’re someone with dry skin, this can be very uncomfortable and damaging to your skin’s outer layer, which is already susceptible to dryness.

It’s also important to avoid using too much of any one skincare product. For instance, moisturizer can be a lifesaver for dry skin—but using too much of it can cause breakouts and hinder your skin’s ability to produce moisture on its own.

Alternative: When creating a skincare routine to follow, always do thorough research on the ingredients in your products and if there are any combinations that should be avoided.

As you begin to experiment with different ingredients, introduce them slowly and be sure to closely monitor how your skin reacts. Space out stronger products to avoid irritation. For example, you might alternate the days that you use an AHA toner and retinol serum until your skin is accustomed to both. Additionally, start by applying smaller amounts of each product and work your way up as needed. 

Mistake #3: Applying Moisturizer to Dry Skin

After showering or washing your face in the morning, do you reach for a towel to dry off your skin? While this is second nature for many of us, this actually may be depriving your skin of the moisture it could be receiving from your products.

Studies have shown that the best time to moisturize your face is after cleansing, while your skin is still damp. Applying your products to damp skin will actually help to lock in moisture in your skin, helping it to get the most out of the products you apply.

This is especially the case when using a product such as a hyaluronic acid (HA) serum. This hydrating ingredient pulls moisture toward the skin, so it works best when skin is damp. Once the HA has been absorbed into your skin, be sure to follow up with a moisturizer to lock in all of its benefits.

Alternative: Rather than patting your skin dry with a towel after cleansing, allow it to remain damp as you complete your skincare routine. If you want to add an extra boost of moisture, use a few spritzes of rosewater spray before applying your serums and moisturizers.

Mistake #4: Over-Exfoliating 

One of the most common side effects of dry skin is flaking and peeling. Your first instinct may be to exfoliate this away using a face scrub, but this can actually worsen the problem and cause damage to the skin.

While exfoliating is important for all skin types, those with dry skin need to be especially careful. Using harsh exfoliators or exfoliating too frequently can cause microscopic tears in the skin, leaving it more susceptible to irritation and inflection.

So how often should you exfoliate? Typically, dermatologists recommend exfoliating no more than one to three times per week. When you do exfoliate, use a gentle product formulated for dry skin. Use gentle, circular motions and avoid any harsh scrubbing or tugging on the skin!

Alternative: If you’re experiencing flaking and peeling, take this as a sign that your skin needs additional moisture. Consider using a hydrating serum, thicker moisturizer, or a hydrating overnight mask to replenish your skin’s moisture levels. When in doubt, consult with a dermatologist. 

Mistake #5: Not Using Face Oils

Face oils can be one of the best additions to a dry skincare routine. These oils lock in moisture, protect the skin, and enhance its natural glow.

There are hundreds of face oils out there, but some great options for dry skin include:

  • Rosehip oil: Gives skin a vibrant glow and a firmer, softer appearance
  • Marula oil: Smooths and softens fine lines while keeping skin hydrated and well-nourished
  • Argan oil: Hydrates, brightens, and boosts elasticity
  • Safflower seed oil: High in vitamin E, which is known to keep the skin nourished while fighting against the harmful effects of free radicals
  • Black cumin seed oil: Helps to fortify the skin’s moisture barrier and maintain the skin’s elasticity, giving the skin a youthful appearance

While serums and moisturizers can certainly help to keep the skin hydrated, finishing off with a face oil can provide an extra boost of moisture. Plus, face oils will give your skin a radiant, dewy glow that makes for a beautiful base before applying makeup.

Alternative: There are a variety of ways to use face oils. Mixing a few drops in with your moisturizer can be a great way to introduce an oil into your routine, and you can also pat a few drops directly into your skin on top of your moisturizer to seal in hydration. If your skin is particularly dry in certain areas, try using a hydrating oil as a spot treatment to soothe dryness and irritation.

Mistake #6: Taking Long, Hot Showers

A long, hot shower can be a great way to wind down after a long day. However, steaming hot water can actually strip your skin of its natural oils, causing it to become drier.

While this doesn’t mean you have to shower with cold water, try to stick with warm water, and pay attention to how long you’re in the shower. This might seem inconvenient, but it will help to preserve your skin’s moisture—both on your face and the rest of your body!

Alternative: After showering, be sure to follow up with your skincare routine immediately (on damp skin!). This will help to replenish any of the moisture your skin may have lost while in the shower.

Mistake #7: Skipping SPF

Last but certainly not least, don’t go a day without applying your sunscreen!

Applying sunscreen is important for all skin types, but it’s especially important for those with dry skin. Unfortunately, dry skin is more prone to the formation of wrinkles and fine lines, and sun exposure will only accelerate this through a process called photoaging.

The damage caused by photoaging takes place in the deepest layers of the skin, so it can take years before the effects are visible. In addition to wrinkling and sagging, this can lead to more serious consequences over time, such as skin cancer.

Alternative: No matter what you’ll be doing during the day or what the weather is like outside, it’s important to apply sunscreen every morning. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), it’s best to use a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher for full protection. This one simple step will make a significant difference in the health and appearance of your skin over time!

At the end of the day, treating dry skin doesn’t have to be complicated. By following an effective skincare regimen and avoiding the mistakes mentioned above, you can help to keep your skin hydrated and nourished.