Not only does dry skin look and feel unpleasant, but it’s also unhealthy since it’s lacking circulation and unable to retain moisture. When dryness, which really affects just the outer layers of skin in true cases, is not handled properly, it can lead to dehydration.
The layers of the skin are like soil in a garden: If all of the different layers of soil are hydrated with water and nurtured with food and sun, flowers grow properly. But, if the foundation is not nourished properly and dehydration sets in, all the layers are affected, and the visible effects are most seen on the surface. In the skin, dehydration starts with the organs and filters out to the lower levels of the skin and the epidermis last. “Something like surface dryness is more of a subcondition. It just affects the outermost layer of skin, and it’s usually the byproduct of using the wrong products, especially cleansers,” says celebrity aesthetician Nerida Joy.
Because dry skin can’t retain moisture, water can’t be locked within the deep layers (also known as transepidermal water loss). “Treatment for dry skin needs to restore moisture to the epidermal barrier so it can properly hold water in and allow the skin to heal,” says Sarasota, FL, dermatologist Elizabeth F. Callahan, MD. Infusing the skin with hydrating agents, like hyaluronic acid, “helps protect it from further evaporation and provides a blockade so that the skin is better equipped to retain moisture and reflect light properly,” says Los Angeles celebrity aesthetician Kate Somerville. When applying moisturizer, make sure to massage it into the skin for at least two minutes, which helps to tone the muscle fibers, stimulate circulation and keep the lymphatic system functioning properly. Serums also need to be used regularly since, unlike moisturizers (which help more on the surface), they can penetrate deeper.
Dry skin needs to be treated with a hyaluronic acid serum and a vitamin C serum. “Hyaluronic acid helps to coat the cells with moisture, and vitamin C acts as a skin protector. It’s also really good for those with sun damage since it provides antioxidant benefits, too,” Joy says. Stick to a mild cleanser with lactic acid and enzymes, that’s nondrying. If the skin feels extradry, treat it to a hydrating mask. A toner will also help alleviate some dryness—toners act as oil stimulants and help get the sebaceous glands going.
The best way to professionally treat dry skin is with moisture-infusing treatments like facials that douse the skin with hydration. Oxygen-based facials, in addition to those that employ hyaluronic acid, are believed to deeply deliver moisture to the lower layers of skin for an immediate difference in how the skin looks and feels.