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Why is My Skin so Dry Even When I Moisturize?


Unlike dehydrated skin, which is temporary, dry skin is a long-lasting affection that requires permanent care. Patients asking their dermatologists “why is my skin so dry even when I moisturize?” don’t always get the straightforward answer they would have hoped. But, if you think about it, it makes sense for the answer to be so complex, as your dermatologist cannot choose an efficient treatment without taking all the possible causes into consideration. This is what we will try to do next as well, in the attempt to offer a comprehensive presentation of the symptoms, causes, and remedies for dry skin.

Table of Contents: 

  • What is dry skin?
  • Skin types
  • Dry skin vs. dehydrated skin
  • Why is my skin so dry even when I moisturize?
  • What are the best moisturizers for dry skin?

What is dry skin?

Skin types

Each person has a different skin type. There are oily, mixed/normal, and dry or sensitive skin types, and depending on how your epidermis looks and feels, you will fall into one category or another. Most people have mixed skin types, that is, they have greasy or oily areas on the forehead, nose, and chin, while the rest of the skin is prone to dryness.

The exceptions are the oily and sensitive or dry complexions, which are opposites. Oily skin is greasy and prone to pimples, acne, and blackheads. Dry skin gets easily irritated, red, or bruised when exposed to extreme weather conditions or harsh cleansers.

Dry skin vs. dehydrated skin

The tendency is to use these two words as synonyms, but the two terms are not one and the same thing. Dry skin cannot be changed, regardless of the treatment we apply. It is a condition, and it is, therefore, permanent. Dry skin is characterized by a deficiency of natural oils.

Dehydration, on the other hand, occurs when the skin lacks water. It can happen to all skin types, even oily or dry ones. Dehydration of the skin appears most often during sun exposure or after consuming alcohol, which eliminates body water. So dehydrated skin is a temporary affection that can be cured by applying hydrating products or getting hydrated from within.

Why is my skin so dry even when I moisturize?

Determining your skin type requires advanced dermatological knowledge, which is why you should get evaluated by a professional before applying any treatments on your own. People with dry skin have a hard time finding the right products and they don’t always see results. However, if you moisturize regularly and your skin is still dry, there might be other causes for this beside the type of moisturizer you’re using, such as:

Excessive washing

With dry skin, it is important to find balance and to adapt to external factors, such as weather, season, etc. If you know your skin tends to get dryer in the wintertime, you should only use a cleanser in the evening and just rinse in the morning, preferably using lukewarm or, even better, cold water. Same for the summertime: if you spend the days at the pool, you might want to use cleansers as little as possible.

Lack of exfoliation

Flakes of dead skin are specific for dry skin. They cover the epidermis, preventing moisturizers and oils from penetrating the skin. The flakes must be removed through mild exfoliation so we can treat the dryness. It is safer to use a milder exfoliator to prevent red spots and dry patches. The secret is to immediately apply moisturizing lotions in abundance after the exfoliation has been completed. This way, the serums will be absorbed, while the skin will benefit entirely from the treatment.  

Medical conditions

Several medical conditions can affect the skin, but most of the time they are related to hormonal imbalances. Take, for instance, the pregnancy period when the female body undergoes many changes. Or menopause when the skin no longer produces the same hormones it used to. Thyroid diseases can also cause the skin to feel dryer than usual.

Skin conditions

Dermatitis, be it atopic or stress-related, is the number one reason people complain of extreme skin dryness. Dermatitis causes more redness and skin scaling. Special treatment is, therefore, required to calm the irritated skin.

Harsh ingredients

Sulfate-free products are the best for all skin types, but they are mandatory for sensitive and dry skin. If you want your dry skin products to be effective, you must resort to natural and vegan cleansers and moisturizers.

What are the best moisturizers for dry skin?

Depending on what causes it, there are different types of moisturizers for dry skin. As previously stated, the best face and body moisturizers are vegan, plant-based ones. Besides sulfates and fragrances, the best moisturizers for dry skin should contain no alcohol or other skin-irritating ingredients.

Once you have made sure you have eliminated all harsh ingredients, you may now focus on the ingredients that help relieve dry skin. According to dermatologists, oils and creams are better than lotions for this type of skin because they are thicker and they hydrate the skin more.

A good product for dry skin will not just nourish your skin, but also lock the moisture in the epidermis. Thus, the product you are looking for must have an emollient part, such as ceramides or other lipid-based formulations. Butter-based creams and serums have enough fat to restore the missing lipids in your dry skin. But how do we lock it in? By making sure the products we use also contain hyaluronic acid or glycerin, the two skin sealants that will prevent the skin from losing the added oils.


Having dry skin is not easy. Sometimes it gets worse and the skin is still dry even if we moisturize. It is best to be gentle with this type of sensitive skin and to search for natural ingredients that can help restore the missing sebum.

Nora Simion

My two secret passions are hair styling and dogs. Sometimes I'm lucky enough to mix the two together and get my dog a cute looking hairstyle. Other times, I usually braid my hair or my friends' hair in an attempt to mimic the most recent Tik Tok trends. I love the no-makeup or the bed head look and I live for the relaxed, all bio fashion trends.

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