Got naturally dry, easily irritated skin? Here are some essential tips for reducing roughness and inflammation, as well as keeping skin hydrated.
(For our friends with oily skin: Read Best Oily Skin Routine for Men)
HOW TO TELL IF YOU HAVE DRY SKIN
You may have dry skin year-round, but typically you'll notice it more in the winter months. Here are some common symptoms or signs that you have dry skin:
- Cracks or fine lines in your skin surface
- Flaky, scaly, rough texture
- Itchy or stinging feeling
- "Dry January" means something entirely different to you
But speaking of Dry January, these sensitive and parching woes are also more common in the winter months, even if you typically have normal, combination, or even oily skin. And while there is a technical distinction between ongoing, genetic condition of having dry or sensitive skin, compared to the seasonal or temporary condition, the fixes remain largely the same. Either way, you’ve got to work overtime to keep it moisturized and calm.
SIMPLE SKINCARE ROUTINE FOR DRY SKIN
Here's a simple skincare routine that can help you maintain a healthy, soft balance for dry or sensitive skin—you’ve just got to stick with it every day (that’s the point of a regimen, after all).
1. Pick a gentle cleanser
Often times, your skincare regimen is itself the culprit behind your irritated skin, and it starts with your cleanser. Many of them use harsh detergents to pull all the oil and grime away from your skin. The thing is, those oils are imperative for having balanced, smooth skin; it’s just that you want to rid of the excess oils that accumulate throughout the day or night, in addition to flushing away sweat and gunk. However, with dry skin, you don’t have this “luxury” of excess oils to remove—so you need a gentle, hydrating cleanser that doesn’t take things too far.
Typically, if something touts itself as hydrating, balancing, or purifying, then it’s likelier to be in your favor. (Read the reviews to confirm, however.) We use ingredients like soothing cactus extract and tiger grass, hydrating clay minerals, nourishing fig extract, and antimicrobial lauric acid (which is gentle, promise) in our Purifying Clay Cleanser. It also uses kaolin and Moroccan lava clays to softly balance oil levels while extracting all the toxins from your pores. We designed it to use twice a day—morning and night—which is the baseline for any skincare regimen.
See also: Cleanser 101: Tips for Washing Your Face
2. Keep showers short and water temperature low-to-medium
You don’t want to cleanse more than necessary with dry skin. The only time you should wash a third time is if you workout midday and need a proper rinse. But in addition to that frequency, you should also taper down your shower frequency and duration, as well as the water temperature.
Long and hot showers dehydrate the skin, full stop. You want mild temperatures and quick showers if you’re going to maintain soft, balanced skin. And as soon as you’re out, when the skin is still damp...that’s when you want to immediately apply the hydrating steps of your regimen. (The same goes for a simple sink cleanse; moisturize directly afterwards.)3. Exfoliate twice weekly
While exfoliation is inherently rough on skin—and is thus avoided by more sensitive skin types—it remains paramount for dry skin. That dryness gives you lots of rough patches of skin, which is essentially a mound of dead skin cells piling up on your face (kind of akin to your foot creating calluses, though it’s way less gross on the face, thankfully).
You should incorporate an exfoliating product into your regimen twice a week—applied in the evening, after cleansing, and before moisturizing. You want a cleansed surface that allows the exfoliating product to work unencumbered, and then you want to immediately hydrate it, to help it rebound. Doing this in the evening allows a full overnight recovery, in case there’s any redness. But it’s not like you’re taking a pumice stone to your face, here. There are lots of gentle scrubs (look for a low concentration of exfoliating beads, or even pumice and seed bits—it’ll probably have the word “gentle” on it, too) and even some gentle (low-strength) exfoliating serums and dual cleanser-exfoliators. For the latter, look for ingredients like lactic or glycolic acid, and salicylic acid. All of these products will also help keep pores clear and prevent breakouts—especially anything with salicylic acid.
Some people with dry skin react inversely to all exfoliating chemicals, like glycolic and lactic acids (which are alpha hydroxy acids, or AHAs), as well as salicylic acid (a beta hydroxy acid, or BHA). Always test it out on a small patch of skin and gauge the results before applying to your entire skin. If in doubt, then stick with a gentle physical exfoliant/scrubs
4. Use advanced hydrating products
If you have routinely dry skin, then you may have to elevate your regimen above the baseline/minimalist routine. That is to say, you need a little extra push, above a cleanser, moisturizer, and exfoliator. Specifically, you should consider things like hydrating masks, oils, and serums.
A 2-3x weekly sheet mask can plump your skin full of ultra nourishing ingredients. Our soothing Bamboo Charcoal Sheet Mask (with bonus beard oil) and Cactus Soothing Face Mask both give you a spa-like treatment, leaving skin glowing, but more importantly, you’re left feeling extremely nourished and hydrated. You can also get your serum from a standalone product, applied daily in smaller doses after cleansing, before moisturizing. It penetrates much deeper into the skin (as does the serum from sheet masks) to help “correct” skin, as opposed to moisturizers which only work on the outermost layer of skin.
Face and beard oils can also be applied over top a moisturizer, to compensate for the lack of natural oils that your pores are procuring. Look for oils like jojoba and argan for the task. They’ll penetrate through anything you’ve applied beneath, but should not be applied prior to any creams or serums. (Typically, unscented beard oils also double well as face oils, since they’re also meant to nourish the skin underneath the beard without causing breakouts.) These oils atone for the lack of natural sebum and secretions in the skin, and they even help soften facial hair. Not to mention, they’re also the best way to hydrate your skin underneath a beard, since creams have a hard time slipping past all the hairs; these oils will even prevent beard dandruff and itch.
5. Moisturize at least twice a day
Every time you cleanse your face—so, twice a day, at least—then you also need to chase it with a moisturizer. This keeps skin soft and hydrated in two key ways. First, it delivers nourishing ingredients to the outermost layer of your skin. But secondly, it’s defensive in nature, in that the best ones utilize SPF to bounce harmful, parching UV rays, and a good hydrator also floods your skin with antioxidants to fight free radicals, while also forming a defensive layer that keeps skin-aging toxins and pollutants out. We designed our Daily SPF Moisturizer to do all of these things. However, if you have dry skin, it’s wise to double up on moisture, by applying a hydrating serum or a hydration-boosting gel underneath your SPF. Many of our dry-skinned customers achieve this by pairing the Gel Moisturizer with the SPF Moisturizer.
However, you should also utilize a separate moisturizer for bedtime, for a few reasons. First, you don’t need SPF at bedtime, so don’t waste it. But moreover, your skin cells work especially hard overnight to regenerate and restore your complexion. For this reason, it’s imperative to juice them up with a denser and equally nourishing moisturizer. We designed our 3-in-1 Gel Moisturizer for this (though it’s great for daytime use, when paired with an SPF). It utilizes cactus extract as well as rosehip oil and niacinamide to calm, smooth, heal, and balance your skin while you sleep.
6. Avoid harsh ingredients
There are a number of ingredients to avoid, like sulfates and parabens, regardless of one’s skin type. But if you have dry or sensitive skin, you should also cut out anything with artificial fragrance.
Take caution with the aforementioned BHA and AHA exfoliating acids, though some people will have no issues with those. Absolutely avoid overly drying agents like astringents and alcohols, and it’s probably best to avoid “toning” products (even natural ingredients like willow bark), since those are more intended for oily skin types.
And, if you’re considering anti-acne or anti-aging treatments that utilize retinol or benzoyl peroxide, always do so under the supervision of a board-certified dermatologist—even if you’re using an OTC product. These work aggressively to achieve their end goal (clear, firm skin), and it’s often too harsh on sensitive or dry skin types.
Everyone has different reactions to each ingredient, but these are the best things to be cautious of.
👉 Read more SKINCARE TIPS FOR MEN