Everything You Need to Know About Caring for Dry Skin

Understanding exactly what your skin is trying to tell you is trickier than you might think, especially when it’s dry. Once upon a time, our understanding of skincare was simply that if your skin was breakout-prone and oily, you required products to soak up the excess oil, and if your skin was dry and irritated, you required heavy moisturisers to deliver some nourishment. However, as time has moved on, our understanding has deepened.

Now, for instance, we know that often the reason skin breaks out is a need for deeper dehydration. In fact, if you ask any expert, it’s extremely likely that they will say dryness is one of the biggest skin issues. Whether you’re experiencing tightness, redness, creasing or scaliness, it’s likely time you gave your skin a drink. And unfortunately, that doesn’t just mean slathering on the nearest moisturiser.

Keep scrolling for all there is to know on how to look after dry skin and to shop some of the best products out there.

The Signs


(Image credit: @AYSHA.SOW)

More often than not, if your skin is dry, you’ll know about it. The best way to determine whether or not your skin is dry is to take some time to consider how it feels after you’ve washed your face or had a shower. If your skin feels tight and appears crepey when you move your face, it’s more than likely to be dry.

On the more serious end of the spectrum, dry skin can also feel rough, itchy and sore as well as show redness, scaling and peeling. If you’re concerned that your skin may be showing signs of an inflammatory skin disorder, such as eczema or psoriasis, it’s best to seek expert advice before taking matters into your own hands.

The Causes


(Image credit: @AMY_LAWRENSON)

The key to tackling dry skin is understanding the reasons you’re experiencing it. So what exactly are the most common causes? Consultant dermatologist Anjali Mahto, BSc, MBBCh, FRCP, reveals, "Cold weather is a recognised cause of skin dryness. Low humidity and exposure to high wind will strip away moisture from the skin surface. We also tend to have the central heating on and opt for hot showers and baths, which can then further exacerbate the problem.”

And it’s not just external factors that can lead to skin dryness. Your daily regimen could also be causing issues. "Dry skin can be triggered by a number of factors besides cold weather and predisposition to inflammatory skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis. Advancing age, frequent overwashing, dry air and fragranced skincare products and soaps can also contribute,” says Mahto.

The Changes


(Image credit: @BAMBIDOESBEAUTY)

So what exactly can you do to help the situation? It comes down to hydration and moisturising. "I always recommend keeping yourself fully hydrated throughout the day, particularly during warmer months when sun damage can encourage fluid loss through the skin. The skin also loses more water content as we sleep, so always ensure you moisturise before bed,” says Mahto.

When it comes to treating dryness, it’s imperative that you look after your skin’s protective barrier, which works to prevent water loss and protect skin from external aggressors. Mahto explains, "In the winter months, there is less production of natural oils (e.g., ceramides, cholesterol, fatty acids), resulting in increased dryness, scaling and flaking.” To help combat such issues, she recommends regular moisturising: "Moisturisers will bind and retain water, in addition to forming a protective seal preventing further water loss.”

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Freelance Beauty Editor

Shannon Lawlor is a renowned beauty journalist and has contributed to Who What Wear’s beauty content since 2020. As a leading beauty editor, expert and brand consultant, she has over eight years of experience working for some of the industry’s most esteemed titles, including Who What Wear (of course), Glamour UK, Stylist, Refinery29 and Fabulous.

Having also worked behind the scenes with some of the industry’s biggest brands and retailers, Shannon has a unique insight into what people really want from their beauty routines. Understanding that beauty lovers seek honest, open and responsible advice, she has it made her mission to demystify the intimidating world of beauty, taking a no-frills approach to the most relatable topics.

While Shannon is the first to admit she doesn’t hold the answer to every beauty question out there, she is dedicated to sharing her expert insights in a bid to help. As a self-proclaimed lazy girl, Shannon has an affinity for easy-to-use, foolproof beauty products and has made it her mission to scope out the best of the best.

When she’s not working, Shannon is likely soaking in the bath or giving no-holds-barred beauty reviews on Instagram from her bathroom floor.