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  5. Dry Skin On The Face: Symptoms, Causes & Remedies

Is the skin on your face dry and flaky? Does it itch often? It could indicate xerosis cutis or dehydrated skin on the face. While there are many underlying causes for this condition, there are remedies to rectify dry skin effectively.

If you have dry skin on the face, you can take measures to get rid of it. Using the right products and home remedies will give you glowing skin in no time. Read on to learn more.

What Does It Mean When Your Face Is Dry And Flaky?

When you have dry skin, also known as xerosis cutis [1], it can lead to skin peeling on your face. For those of you who have dry skin all over your body, you may be more prone to having dry skin on your face too.

Dry skin on the face may start to peel in flakes. Or, when you touch or scratch your skin, it feels flaky and itchy. The skin on the face can be dry due to several factors, while its symptoms can indicate whether the skin is dry due to lack of moisture or conditions like eczema [2] or psoriasis [3].

Symptoms Of Dry Skin On Face

Several symptoms indicate you have dry skin on your face. If your skin is peeling or has a scaly appearance, feels rough to the touch or bleeds if scratched even gently, it implies dry skin. The redness of the skin is also a symptom.

Dark-skinned people may develop an ashen or dull look on their face, which indicates that the skin on the face is very dry.

If the dry skin doesn’t go away after taking corrective measures, it may indicate other medical conditions that need to be checked by a dermatologist.

What Causes Dry Skin On The Face?

When the skin is deficient in water or oil, it can lead to dryness. Dry skin may occur during winter, all year round, and in places with low humidity. Showering with extremely hot water can also lead to dry skin.

Causes of dry skin on the face include dry air, extreme climate, prolonged exposure to the sun, harsh chemicals in products applied on the skin -- soaps, make-up, and moisturizers; an imbalance in pH levels of the skin and excessive face washing.

Some other causes of dry skin include frequent air travel, chlorine in the pool water if you swim a lot, and living in a dry and arid environment. If your skin is very dry and cracks appear, it may lead to an infection due to bacteria entering the cracks, requiring medical intervention.

According to research, smoking is a significant cause for dry skin on the face [4]. Health conditions such as hypothyroidism and diabetes; and skin conditions like psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, and atopic dermatitis can also cause dry skin on the face.

Another cause for dry skin is dead skin, and cell build up on the skin's surface. The skin replaces its old cells with new ones, and the process usually takes a month [5]. If not exfoliated regularly, the dead skin cells cause dryness on the face.

How To Treat Dry Skin On The Face?

There are many options available to treat dry skin, depending on how chronic or acute the problem is. However, it is best to seek a medical opinion and know the underlying cause before treating the symptoms. Changing skincare regimens can also help to a large extent.

A. Go Gentle On Your Face

Starting with your face cleanser, check the product to ensure it does not contain ingredients like alpha hydroxy acids, alcohol, and synthetic fragrances. These can cause dry skin on the face due to their harsh and dehydrating properties.

While washing your face, avoid scrubbing it vigorously. Use your fingertips only and not the palms of your hands. Rub your face in a circular motion applying minimal pressure. To rinse off soap or cleanser, splash your face with water instead of wiping it off with your palms.

If you have very dry skin on your face, wash your face with a suitable cleanser only at night. This removes all the dirt and grime collected on your face during the day and prevents the skin from drying out as you are not washing it multiple times.

B. Choose Products With The Right Ingredients

Ingredients in soaps and cleansers that are beneficial to the skin and can reduce dry skin symptoms include syndets. These are synthetic cleansers containing milder chemicals such as sulfur trioxide and ethylene oxide that are gentle on dry and sensitive skin.

Mild moisturizing soaps and cleansers are beneficial for dry skin on the face. Ingredients like alkyl-polyglycoside [6], silicone-based surfactants, and lanolin help the skin retain its natural moisture and do not dry out the skin further.

Avoid products that contain parabens and sodium lauryl sulfate. All of these can dry out the skin.

C. Alter Your Bath Routine

When you have a bath, make sure the water is lukewarm [7], never hot as hot water dries out the skin, and robs it of its natural oil, which keeps the skin moist.

Restrict your bath time to not more than ten minutes as excessive exposure to water dries your skin further. For the same reason, unless it is scorching, shower only once a day.

If swimming regularly, moisturize your face suitably before getting into the pool as chlorinated water can also dry the skin.

D. Moisturizing Is A Must

One of the best remedies for dry skin on the face is using the right moisturizer for the morning and night. Ingredients you should look for in an effective moisturizer include ceramides [8], hyaluronic acid, colloidal oatmeal, retinol, Vitamin C, and E. All of these help the skin stay hydrated.

You can opt for a moisturizer with a built-in SPF for sun protection during the day; and a nutrient-rich moisturizer for the night. Using a moisturizer immediately after your bath on slightly damp skin and at night on freshly cleansed skin can help seal in the natural oils.

Always choose a moisturizer according to your skin type. Ingredients that further dry out your skin include alcohol and synthetic colors and fragrances. If a product contains any of these, it is best to avoid it.

According to a study [9], mineral oil or its derivatives like petroleum can seal in the skin's natural moisture when applied and prevent dry skin on the face. However, some experts advise not using these. It is best to seek professional advice before using mineral oil-based products.

If you prefer using natural remedies to treat dry skin on your face, you can opt for extra virgin coconut oil, pure aloe vera gel, and shea butter. All of these contain natural oils that help relieve symptoms of dry skin. People with oily and combination skin may not find these suitable.

E. Protect Your Skin

In summer, it is essential to protect your skin with sunglasses and even a hat, besides sunscreen to prevent dry skin on the face. The cold air can dry out your skin further in winter, so wear a scarf around your face. Make sure it is a natural fabric that doesn't itch or irritate the skin.

F. Use A Humidifier

If you live in an area with low humidity or arid weather, it can contribute to dry skin on your face. When you use a humidifier, you add moisture to the air, which helps your skin stay hydrated and prevents drying. Choose a humidifier that is easy to clean to avoid bacteria.

G. Exfoliate Regularly

When you exfoliate your skin regularly, it can remove the build-up of dead skin cells and improve moisturizers' absorption into the skin. You can use mechanical or chemical exfoliators for the best results.

Facial scrubs, exfoliating loofahs, and cleansing brushes are mechanical exfoliators that brush the dead cells off the skin.

Chemical exfoliators remove dead skin cells from the surface and the deeper layers of the skin and increase cell regeneration, preventing dry skin on the face. Chemical exfoliators are Alpha Hydroxy Acids and Beta Hydroxy Acids.

According to studies [10], using a chemical peel with Alpha Hydroxy Acid and mechanical exfoliation shows significant improvement in the skin's hydration levels. However, keep in mind that you should use both exfoliating treatments at suitable intervals as prescribed.

Tips To Prevent Dry Skin On The Face

  • Use sunscreen throughout the year, even if you are staying indoors and not going out in the sun.
  • Avoid using alcohol-based toners.
  • Choose makeup that doesn't dry out your skin. If you need to use a foundation or concealer, choose a tinted moisturizer that prevents the skin from drying out.
  • If you are using a scarf to cover your face, ensure the detergent you wash it with is hypoallergenic and doesn't contain synthetic colors and fragrances as these can cause itching on dry skin and make it worse.
  • Drink adequate amounts of water.
  • Restrict your caffeine intake to a bare minimum.
  • Give up smoking if you are a smoker.
  • Do not stay out in the sun for long hours.

Home Remedies For Dry Skin On The Face

A. Oatmeal

Studies show that using oatmeal [11] mixed in your bath water is a great way to moisturize your skin. It contains antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe dehydrated skin. After you bathe, you can use a moisturizer to seal in the moisture.

B. Antioxidant-Rich Diet

Dry skin indicates the presence of dead and damaged cells that are not being replaced fast enough. Consuming foods that are replete with antioxidants can reduce dryness. Peas, dals, tomatoes, beans, carrots, salmon, and blueberries help the skin cells regenerate faster.

C. Coconut Oil

The fatty acids and emollient properties [12] of coconut oil can effectively remove dry skin from the face. The emollients present in coconut oil can permeate the spaces between the skin cells, resulting in smoother, hydrated skin. It can be used on its own and is very mild.

D. Honey

Honey is a natural moisturizer and can effectively reduce dry skin on the face. All you need to do is apply onto your face and neck and wash off after 15 minutes.

E. Milk Or Milk Powder

Milk has moisturizing properties, and if you have dry skin on the face, you can apply cold milk and wash off after it dries up. It will also help in removing tan and giving your skin an even tone.

If you wish to tighten the skin, make a thick paste with milk powder and water and apply it like a face mask. Wash off after it dries up on the skin. Doing this every day with weekly exfoliation will give you hydrated skin.

Wrapping Up

Dry skin on the face can occur due to a lack of hydration, the weather, or even using the wrong products for your skin. You can correct this problem by taking a few steps to ensure your skin stays hydrated and nourished.

Begin By Knowing Your Skin

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