I don't personally suffer from dry skin, but even someone like me with combination, acne-prone skin notices a definite moisture-lacking switch come fall and winter (or the second I step onto an airplane, for that matter). However, I have enough friends and family members who suffer from dry skin to know that it's one of the most common, stubborn, and frustratingly confounding skin concerns. There's a lot of information out there—what to do and apply and what not to do and apply—but as with most intel found on the internet, the majority of what you've read about dry skin is likely false. For instance, many people assume you should stop exfoliating once dry-skin season hits, but according to esthetician and founder of StackedSkincare Kerry Benjamin, swearing off your favorite peels and exfoliants is the number one mistake you can make if you suffer from dry skin. Just like neglecting moisturizer when you're breaking out is a no-no (even if it does sound counterintuitive), so is starving your complexion of the strategic buildup-blasting ingredients found in high-quality exfoliating formulas.
"Improper or infrequent exfoliation is the number one contributor to dryness," Benjamin warns. "The buildup of dead skin creates the feeling of dryness and actually compounds the issue because products can't penetrate to relieve the dehydration you're experiencing."
Game-changing advice, right? Ahead, we've asked Benjamin to share even more dos and don'ts pertaining to dry skin in addition to the best morning and nighttime skincare regimens to treat the condition. Keep scrolling!
The Best Things to Do for Dry Skin
As you can surmise from Benjamin's stealthy tip above, regular exfoliation using strategic, high-quality tools and products is the best thing you can do to help treat dry skin.
"My favorite ways to exfoliate are by dermaplaning, using regular at-home peels, and I also love using the Versed Photos, Please Brightening Tightening Mask ($10) a few times a week," shares Benjamin. "On Sundays, I like to power-exfoliate my skin! I dermaplane, apply the Versed mask, leave it on for 15 minutes, and after rinsing, I apply a layer of StackedSkincare's TCA Multi Acid Face Peel ($150)."
This way, she explains, she's using a few different exfoliation methods that are gentle enough not to irritate dry skin but that still leave it glowing, moisturized, and radiant.
And the Worst
Again, not to be a broken record, but as Benjamin confirms, the absolute worst thing you can do if you have dry skin is to not exfoliate.
"People often think exfoliation is too harsh for their skin, and it's absolutely not true. You just need to find the exfoliation technique that works best for your skin type, whether it's dermaplaning, acid and enzyme peels, gomage, etc.," Benjamin explains to us. "Oftentimes, your skin might react because you haven't been exfoliating, but once you start doing it regularly, your skin will adjust, and any adverse reaction will more than likely subside."
If you think your skin is too sensitive, she recommends starting an exfoliation-focused regimen slowly, gradually building up to a regular routine. The skin has an amazing healing ability—don't underestimate it!
Additionally, Benjamin recommends sticking to warm water versus hot in the shower, investing in radiant heaters and humidifiers, drinking tons (and tons) of water, and applying a body oil the second you step out of the shower when your skin is still moist to ensure you're locking in all that essential hydration.
Products to Include and Products to Skip
According to Benjamin, a good moisturizer to use alongside your exfoliants is crucial for getting a handle on dry skin.
"A high-quality moisturizing formula contains both humectants and occlusive agents—two families of ingredients with very different but equally important moisturizing properties," she says. "Examples of humectants include hyaluronic acid and glycerin, both of which help moisture bind to the skin, thus preventing dehydration. Occlusive agents, on the other hand, protect skin by preventing water loss. They also tend to be quite soothing, which are ideal for the winter months when skin tends to feel more sensitive to elements. I wrote a blog post earlier in the year with more information on these sorts of ingredients."
So what types of products should you forgo? Since ingredients like vitamin A and benzoyl peroxide are extremely drying, Benjamin recommends scaling back if you're experiencing a lot of symptoms associated with dryness (e.g., flaking, redness, chapping, cracked skin, etc.). In lieu, you can try the exfoliation methods she mentions above in addition to following her morning-and-night skincare prescription below.
Your Morning Product Prescription
"Hyaluronic acid (HA) is always a great daily serum to use for all skin types since it's lightweight and can be used for oily to super-dry skin," explains Benjamin. "In fact, if you are oily, this is a really great choice to use daily to help control your oil production and reduce and prevent breakouts."
Your Evening Product Prescription
"The second step is always exfoliation," explains Benjamin. "I do this three to four times a week. Once a week, I do all three treatments together: dermaplaning followed by the Versed mask and then the StackedSkincare peel. Another two to three times a week, I'll just use the Versed mask and/or the StackedSkincare peel."
"After you exfoliate, you always want to apply your serums," Benjamin reminds us. "Since they are thinner and have a smaller molecule size, they will penetrate best after exfoliation and before creams. If you are not exfoliating that evening, then after cleansing, you will apply your serums. I like to use HA from Versed for my hydration."
Next up, Benjamin recommends micro-needling (her tool is the best!) to drive the HA serum deeper into the skin for maximum hydration.
"I recommend micro-needling daily, as it will make your serums work better, and it's an amazing anti-aging tool that stimulates collagen production," she explains. "Just be sure to swap out your rollerhead monthly since the needles dull and need to be replaced for safety and hygiene reasons."
The Body Prescription
Daily after showering, Benjamin recommends applying the Versed body oil and allowing it to penetrate while you get ready. "I love this product for its hydrating properties, and it smells amazing!" she says.
The peel you applied as the first step will slough off the dead skin to allow the body oil to penetrate more effectively. The result? Glowing, super-hydrated skin.