Dry skin feels tight, itchy and parched. It also tends to flake, have rough or reddish patches and makeup doesn’t go on smoothly. It can look thin or dull, have fine, crepe-y lines and act sensitive.
But there’s some justice: People with dry skin also tend to have small pores, rarely break out and don’t have to worry about looking shiny in photos.
The science: Sebum and sweat create your skin’s natural moisturizer, an acidic mix of lipids and waxes that protects the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of your skin. The stratum corneum is made up of dead skin cells that lay flat like shingles on a roof and holds water in the skin.
When the acid mantle on top of the skin is stripped (often from harsh cleansers or extreme heat or cold), the stratum corneum is damaged and moisture escapes, leading to dry, damaged skin.
Causes: Hormones play a role, since they determine the amount of sebum your skin produces, which is also why skin tends to get dryer after menopause, explains New York City dermatologist Francesca Fusco, M.D. Flaking can also be a sign of an underactive thyroid.
According to Dr. Leslie Baumann, CEO of the Baumann Cosmetic and Research Institute in Miami, and author of "The Skin Type Solution," the most likely cause is a damaged protective barrier, often from cold, dry winter air, wind, harsh cleansers and toners. And while drinking tons of water won’t directly moisturize your skin, your skin can’t function at its best if you’re dehydrated, so fill up on hydrating foods like fruits and vegetables.
WATCH VIDEO: A Review of Dry Skin and How to Treat It
Tips for dry skin:
See how your BMI and waist-to-hip ratio is affecting your beauty and health.
Highlight your eye color. Flaunt your body shape. Harness your confidence. Take our quizzes to better know yourself and get science-based, individualized advice to embrace your true beauty.
See how your BMI and waist-to-hip ratio is affecting your beauty and health.Take Quiz
Great sex does more than blow your mind—it's good for your heart, your head and your beauty.Take Quiz
Define your curves and discover the best ways to eat, exercise and dress for your figure.Take Quiz
If shopping for eye makeup is one big guessing game, find your best colors here.Take Quiz