The Independent Pharmacy

How To Get Rid Of Dry Skin On Your Face

Scott McDougall
Scott McDougallMPharmDirector & Registered Manager

Reviewed on 24 Jan 2023

Dry skin is far from a serious condition, but that doesn’t make it any less irritating or unsightly — especially if you’re dealing with dry skin on your face. Wondering what’s causing your dry skin or seeking tips on how to treat and prevent it? You’ve come to the right place — read on!

What causes dry skin on the face?

To maintain itself, your skin secretes a waxy, oily substance called sebum. Sebum helps your skin to lock in moisture by preventing water from evaporating away. Too much sebum and your skin will become greasy and prone to acne. Too little, and this will lead to your skin drying out.

Pinning down the root cause of your dry skin can be the trickiest step in treating it. It’s also one of the most important though, as it will dictate the type of treatment you choose. When discussing the causes of dry skin on the face, some of the most common contributing factors include:

  • Skin disorders — psoriasis and dermatitis are two of the most common conditions which can cause dry skin on the face.
  • Chemicals — some makeup and cleansers contain harmful chemicals that can cause your skin to lose moisture and dry out. This drying can often lead to additional damage if left untreated.
  • Ageing — the older you get, the less capable your body is of maintaining healthy skin, resulting in a loss of moisture and overall skin smoothness (and a greater need for moisturising skin treatments).
  • Illness — some conditions like kidney disease or diabetes may lead to chronic skin dryness. This will usually affect your whole body though, as opposed to just the skin on your face.
  • Environment — spending a lot of time in hot, arid, freezing or windy conditions can lead to dry skin. The chlorine present in swimming pools can also cause your skin to dry out, too.
  • Lifestyle factors — drinking alcohol, smoking and not drinking enough water are all potential causes of dry skin.

Dry skin symptoms

The most obvious symptom of dry skin is, of course, skin that feels dry and flaky. However, depending on your skin type, your age, and your overall health, you may experience a host of other symptoms along with this. These may include:

  • Skin that feels tight or taut
  • Cracked skin (deep cracks may also bleed)
  • Rough skin which is coarse to the touch
  • Redness — this may come and go, or appear gradually before dying down

Dry skin on face treatment options

As we’ve demonstrated, there are plenty of factors that could be responsible for the dry skin on your face. Once you’ve figured out the root cause, your next step is to seek treatment. Thankfully, the options are plentiful. Wondering how to cure dry skin on your face? Check out our top tips below.

Moisturise your skin

This is usually the first logical step in treating your dry skin. Moisturisers rehydrate your skin and help to protect its natural barrier, preventing any more water from wicking away. Moisturisers usually come in a cream or lotion (such as Cerave PM Facial Moisturising Lotion or Cetraben Lotion). Alternatively, you may choose to use a natural moisturiser — coconut oil or shea butter are two popular options.

Above all, always avoid any moisturisers that contain alcohol, artificial colours or fragrances, or dioxane. These ingredients will only exacerbate the dryness of your skin.

Use a facial cleanser

If you haven’t already, consider establishing a good skincare routine. Clean your face twice a day (when you wake up, and just before you go to bed), and only use a cleanser that is dermatologist approved. We recommend CeraVe SA Smoothing Cleanser, CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser or CeraVe Micellar Cleansing Water for makeup removal.

Always avoid any cleanser made with ingredients derived from mineral oils (including paraffin and petroleum), or those containing sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), parabens, diethanolamine (DEA), monoethanolamine (MEA) and triethanolamine (TEA).

Adjust your bathing habits

Like your showers or baths steaming hot? If so, consider lowering the temperature. Hot water is more likely to strip your skin of its natural oils, leaving it unprotected and more prone to drying out.

You should also try to limit your bath or shower to 5-10 minutes. That’s because long, hot showers or baths are harsher on your skin and can cause it to dry out, flake, or become scaly. Once you’re finished, use a moisturiser to protect your skin and lock in any remaining moisture.

Use a humidifier

Dry air can play havoc with your skin, especially in particularly hot or cold temperatures. If the air in your home is quite dry, consider installing a humidifier. Adding moisture back into the air won't cure dry skin overnight, but it will help prevent it in the long run.

Use dry skin medication

If your dry skin is unresponsive to all conventional treatments, seek the help of your local pharmacist or GP. It may be that you’re suffering from a broader, underlying issue such as atopic dermatitis, or even a skin infection.

In these cases, you may be prescribed a steroidal moisturiser containing hydrocortisone, or an antifungal cream to help fight your infection.

Dry skin is extremely common and, in most cases, relatively easy to cure. If you’re struggling with dry skin, remember to wash your face regularly with a gentle cleanser, and always follow up with a dermatologist-approved moisturiser. After a few days, you should see some improvement, but if that isn’t the case, it’s always best to seek the advice of your GP.

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