Choosing and Using the Best Moisturizer for Dry Skin

What is the best moisturizer for dry skin? If you’ve ever done an online search for skin moisturizers, or spent any time at all in the skin care department of a local store, you know that there are an overwhelming number of products Best Moisturizer for Dry Skinto choose from, making it a challenge to find the best moisturizer for dry skin.

From real food ingredients like avocado and carrot to complicated-sounding chemical compounds like propylene glycol linoleate, you’ll see a bewildering selection of possibilities.

Good news! You don’t have to be a scientist or a dermatologist to make sense of all this. Arm yourself with some basic knowledge about the causes and cures for dry skin, and you’ll be ready to shop like a pro. So let’s get started:

What causes your dry skin?

Before looking for the best moisturizer for dry skin it’s important to ask what’s causing your dry skin. The general answer is a simple one. Dry skin is a result of exposure to harsh weather conditions and insufficient air humidity. It may also be caused by kidney disease or diabetes. Other possible causes include side effects of medications, or overly harsh skin cleansers.

It’s not always possible to correct these kinds of factors. While you can certainly switch to a gentler cleansing product, you can’t control the weather; and you definitely won’t want to stop taking an important medication because it is drying out your skin! What you can do, however, is to understand the physical changes that occur in your skin that make it dry ‒ and formulate a plan that mitigates those changes.

Normal vs Dry Skin - Best Moisturizer for Dry SkinYour skin protects itself from damage by making a protective barrier ‒ called the stratum corneum ‒ from fatty lipids, oils, and dead skin cells. This layer on top of your skin keeps dirt particles, bacteria, and viruses from invading your body. It also keeps moisture in, and since the human body is more than half water, this is a very important function.

When your skin is normally hydrated, it sloughs off the dead cells in the stratum corneum regularly. But when external or internal factors (like the weather, or medications) reduce the amount of oils in your skin, this process goes haywire. Dead skin cells build up in clumps that become visible flakes. Your skin becomes red and inflamed, even cracking in severe cases.

Understanding just this little bit about the skin’s natural processes and how dryness disrupts them should make the next part easy: making a plan to repair and replenish with a moisturizer for dry skin.

Replenishing moisturizers with humectants, emollients and occlusives

The first job of a good moisturizer for dry skin is to restore the skin’s natural water and oil content. Basically, there are two ways to accomplish this: either by helping the skin to absorb extra moisture or by sealing in moisture that’s already present in the skin. The best moisturizer for dry skin will use humectants, emollients, and occlusives ‒ or a combination of them ‒ to accomplish this task.

Humectants are usually water-based, and work to help the skin soak up moisture. (You’ll also see this word used frequently for shampoos designed to treat dry hair.) Humectants draw water into the outer layers of your skin from the air outside, and also from the inner layers of the skin. They also help your skin to retain the moisture it absorbs. Common humectant ingredients include glycerin, lactic acid, alpha hydroxy acids, and sorbitol.

Emollients can be oil or water-based. They deliver moisture directly to the skin instead of helping it to absorb moisture from other sources. For super-dry or cracking skin, an oil-based emollient may be the right choice, as it will be a bit greasier and therefore stay on the skin longer without evaporating. On the downside, an oil-based moisturizer for dry skin can be more visible and messier to handle than a moisturizer with water-based emollients. Carrier oils, urea, silicone oils and isopropyl myristate are common emollient ingredients.

Occlusives create a waterproof barrier that seals moisture into the outer layer of your skin. They’re most often made from substances with a very high oil content. Because occlusive moisturizers are so oily, they make a terrible choice for people with oily skin. But for parched dry skin, they are a great way to retain the maximum moisture possible. The best moisturizer for dry skin will include occlusive ingredients like dimethicone, petrolatum, mineral oil, and grapeseed oil.

Dry Hands - Best Moisturizer for Dry SkinThe best moisturizer for dry skin helps repair and heal

Some moisturizers for dry skin are designed to repair skin damage in addition to restoring moisture. These products are generally called skin repairing or skin identical moisturizers. Moisturizers that contain skin identical ingredients are especially good at defending the skin from environmental pollution and maintaining the skin’s natural functions.

The special ingredients in skin repairing moisturizers work to revitalize the intercellular matrix of the skin. The intercellular matrix is what holds your skin cells together, and keeps your skin strong and pliable. When it decays, your skin gets dry, flaky, overly tight, and rough. Skin repairing moisturizers fight and fix the damage done to your skin’s intercellular matrix, keeping it supple and healthy.

There are a great many helpful skin repairing ingredients to watch for in a good moisturizer for dry skin. Among them are antioxidants like Vitamins C and E and ferulic acid, and other healing substances like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, lecithin, glycerin, phospholipids, and polysaccharides.

Healing habits to consider along with the best moisturizer for dry skin

By now you should have a pretty clear understanding of your dry skin and how to use a moisturizer for dry skin to help it recover. But you’re not quite finished yet! There are some great healing steps you can take to keep your skin looking and feeling soft and youthful.

First and foremost, treat your skin gently! Harsh cleansers will dry your skin, and scrubbing your face damages delicate tissues and causes irritation and inflammation. Cleanse with a gentle product and warm ‒ not hot ‒ water. Massage your face gently, and don’t wash it too often. This will help retain those vital skin oils.

After bathing or showering, pat yourself dry gently. And remember, this is the very best time to moisturize! You’ll get the greatest benefits from your moisturizer for dry skin if you use it while your skin is still slightly damp.

Drink lots of water. There’s no point in going to all these lengths to moisturize your skin if your body is dehydrated. If the air in your home is dry, get a humidifier. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel, and your skin will love you for it!

Finding the best moisturizer for dry skin is only part of the battle. With good healing habits together with a moisturizer for dry skin on your side, your skin will stay healthy, hydrated, and youthful. What could be better?

Here are our picks on Amazon.com for the best moisturizer for dry skin.

Do you have an opinion on the best moisturizer for dry skin? Let us know your favorite in the comments below.

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