When your skin doesn’t retain sufficient moisture, it starts to dry out. This can be the result of many things, such as harsh products, frequent bathing, aging, some medical conditions, or a damaged skin barrier. Simply put, dry skin occurs when skin cells produce less oil than necessary. This lack of sebum results in the skin feeling tight with a dull or rough-looking texture. “That feeling of your skin being tight can happen all over your body. Wherever you have oil glands, and there is less sebum being produced than necessary, your skin will feel dry and tight,” says Dr. Debra Jaliman, board-certified NYC dermatologist and Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
No matter the cause, having dry skin is uncomfortable. And besides your ceramide moisturizer and hyaluronic acid serum (both great hydrating agents), you can add up some natural ways to get rid of dry skin. Since dry skin lacks moisture in its outer layer, it can crack, wrinkle, or get attacked by external aggressors, so it’s essential to keep its moisture in place.
Home remedies for dry skin
The bright side? A variety of home remedies can be used by everyone to relieve dry skin. Most of the ingredients below can be used as moisturizers or hydrating masks. And as a pro tip: the best time to use natural remedies for dry skin is after a bath on damp skin.
Repleted with several essential antioxidants and vitamins, avocados can nourish your skin from within and give it a natural glow. Avocado’s pulp is a high source of B-carotene, lecithin, and linoleic acid that moisture the skin, while vitamin E enhances hydration even more.
Besides its high moisturizing qualities, avocado has anti-itching properties — another reason to apply it to dry skin. Although the itchiness in dry skin is not fully understood, the clinical association between itch and dry skin is well established. Stephanie Bredif published a study investigating the anti-itching and moisturizing properties of a patented natural extract avocado peptide for dry, itchy skin, which confirmed the avocado’s hydrating qualities.
How to DIY? Puree half an avocado and mix it with one teaspoon of olive oil and honey. Layer the mixture to your complexion and decolletage and leave it for 20 minutes before washing it off. Try sticking to the habit, and apply the mask twice a week for significant results.
Sunflower seed oil
In 2013, Dr. Simon G Danby researched the effect of olive and sunflower seed oil on adult skin barriers. While Dr. Simon’s investigation concluded that sunflower seed oil preserved stratum corneum integrity, did not cause erythema, and improved hydration, the use of olive oil for the treatment of dry skin should be discouraged. Rich in linoleic acid, vitamins A, D, and E, and having an excellent absorption ability in the skin’s depth, the sunflower seed oil is an extraordinary idea for dry skin.
Dry skin remedy with coconut oil
Another oil that does wonders for dry skin! In 2004, a clinical trial study aimed to determine the effectiveness and safety of virgin coconut oil as a therapeutic moisturizer. Researchers found that coconut oil shows effectivity through significant skin hydration improvement and increases the level of lipids on the skin’s surface when used regularly. Coconut oil contains saturated fatty acids, known humectants, as this 2016 research explains, listing coconut oil as a rich emollient. It’s no secret everybody loves coconut oil!
Remedies for dry skin with oatmeal bath
The use of oat as a topical agent for soothing and cleansing the skin dates back to ancient times. It can be considered a multitasker natural emollient filled with lipids and fatty acids, polysaccharides, enzymes, vitamin E, proteins, and saponins. Also, Avenanthramides are low-molecular-weight, soluble phenolic alkaloid compounds produced by the plant, known to have strong antioxidant activity. These compounds have been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory and anti-itching activity, which may provide additional protection against skin irritation. Did you know that colloidal oatmeal (aka oats ground into an extremely fine powder) is currently approved as an over-the-counter skin protectant drug? Just add a cup of powdered oatmeal to a warm bath, and you’ll notice its particular hydrating effect.
Milk treatment for dry skin
Milk has been known to offer rich properties to the skin since ancient times, and it’s still used today. Maybe you won’t fill your entire bathtub with milk, as Cleopatra used to, yet you can use milk in some other ways to treat dry skin. For your complexion, dip a cotton ball in milk and dab all over the face. After 20 minutes, wash with cold water and apply a moisturizer to lock in hydration.
For the rest of your body, you can soak a washcloth in cold milk and place it on dry skin patches for 5-7 minutes. Then gently wash off the milk with another cloth soaked in lukewarm water. In this way, the natural milk moisturizer will remain on your skin. You’d need to do this kind of often to see results, but it worths the effort! And if you didn’t know milk contains lactic acid, which can help exfoliate dead skin cells and increases the skin’s ability to retain moisture. Also, milk’s soothing nature can preserve the skin’s delicate pH levels and lighten the skin. In plus, milk contains phospholipids, already known to strengthen the skin barrier.
Treat dry patches with honey
Honey has been praised for its healing properties, with records of its therapeutic use dating back to 2000 B.C., when ancient Greeks and Egyptians used honey to treat skin and burn wounds by applying it topically. Still used in many traditional medicines, some studies suggest that honey can be used as a home treatment to relieve dry skin.
It’s been shown that honey is antiseptic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antiallergenic, and has antioxidant, healing, and moisturizing effects. It promotes rehydration, stimulates immunity, and is beneficial for all types of skin. It has also been widely suggested that honey’s properties may contribute to tissue repair and reduce wounds’ chronic inflammation, promoting healing. All these factors indicate that honey is the perfect home treatment to use for dry skin. And if you use organic Manuka honey, you hit it big! Trust me!
Petroleum jelly is a mixture of mineral oils and waxes, which form a semisolid jelly-like substance without changing much since it had been discovered in 1959. The main benefits of petroleum jelly come from petroleum, the main ingredient, which helps seal the skin with a water-protective barrier, being one of the best occlusives. In 2017, a group of researchers found that the skin barrier improved after using petroleum jelly on older people’s dry skin. This conclusion encourages the idea of using petroleum jelly to treat dry skin.
Moisturizes dry skin with aloe vera
If you have a fresh aloe vera plant, cut open a leaf, squeeze the gel out of it, apply it on the skin, and leave it on for 15 minutes before rinsing it off. It’s a simple remedy that will help you keep your skin moisturized and protected by forming a shielding layer that will keep your skin free of any impurities. Plus, for dry hands or feet, before going to bed, apply aloe vera gel, cover the area with a sock or glove, and let it act until the morning.
With its antiseptic and soothing properties, aloe vera gel can help moisturize dry skin. In 2003, a clinical trial conducted by Dennis P. West evaluated the aloe vera gel in the treatment of dry skin on 30 women. Dennis concluded that aloe vera gel improves skin integrity, helped decrease the appearance of wrinkles, and has a positive outcome in managing dry skin and irritant contact dermatitis.
10 Ways to Combat Dry Skin
If repeated consistently, all these tips can help you combat dry skin:
- Try to “avoid excessive use of diuretics, such as alcohol, caffeine, and watch your salt intake,” facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon Inessa Fishman, MD. told Insider.
- Don’t use heavily scented products, as they may further irritate the skin. Better opt for unscented or lightly scented products.
- Limit to a 5 minutes shower daily. If you spend more time bathing, it can strip away the skin’s oily layer, causing it to lose moisture. Also, use lukewarm water instead of hot water, as hot water can strip away natural oils.
- Always apply moisturizer right after bathing on damp skin. This will help your skin seal in moisture longer and better.
- Use fragrance-free laundry detergents and avoid fabric softeners, or look for skin-friendly ones.
- Never scratch the dry areas. Better apply a moisturizer to control the itch. If the irritation persists, try placing a cold pack on the area to relieve the feeling.
- Use a humidifier in the winter, when the skin tends to dry out more. Ideally, set it around 60% — it should be sufficient to replenish the skin’s top layer.
- Avoid wearing wool and other fabrics that can irritate the skin.
- In skincare and makeup, ensure the products don’t include elements that can dry out the skin, such as SLSs, alcohol, or fragrance, or irritants, like retinol or glycolic acid.
- Try staying away from bath sponges, scrub brushes, or washcloths, or use a light version of them. For the same reason, pat the skin dry when toweling, without rubbing.
When to see a doctor
If none of the remedies you ever tried at home worked, maybe you consider making an appointment with your dermatologist. Severe cases of dry skin may require a medical prescription. Because dry skin can also be a sign of a skin condition, a derm can examine you and explain the reasons for your dry skin and what you can do to get rid of it.