5 Sneaky Ways You Might Be Drying Out Your Skin

During the winter months, dry skin is inevitable. Between the cold, dry air outside and the blasting radiator inside, even the most hydrated complexions don’t stand a chance. But though the elements are largely to blame for your chapped cheeks (and lips, and hands, and elbows), according to Caren Campbell, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in San Francisco, there are certain things you may be doing in your everyday life to make matters worse.

When it comes to keeping your skin hydrated, your skin barrier is your first line of defense. When it’s intact, it helps to prevent something called transepidermal water loss, in which moisture evaporates from your skin into the environment. When it’s damaged or stripped, though, your skin won’t be able to hold onto the moisture it needs to stay healthy and glowing. When the air is dry, the environment is practically begging to slurp moisture out of your skin, and when your barrier isn’t well fortified — which can happen as a result of harmless-seeming everyday habits — it makes it far too easy for that to happen. 

In order to keep your barrier intact and, in effect, your skin hydrated until spring humidity hits, scroll through for Dr. Campbell’s take on the biggest mistakes you’re making that are secretly drying out your skin.

The Dry Skin Culprit: Turning up the heat

Though luxuriating in a hot bath or shower can often feel like the ultimate form of self care (and the easiest way to thaw out your limbs after walking around in sub-zero temps), it’s likely doing a disservice to your skin. Though it may be counterintuitive, water — especially hot water — can actually be drying, because it strips your skin of the natural lipids and oils it needs to stay hydrated. Because of this, Dr. Campbell suggests limiting your baths and showers to once daily and using lukewarm water. 

The Dry Skin Culprit: Using the wrong kind of cleanser

When you use soap-based cleansers that are formulated with heavy surfactants, you run the risk of stripping your skin barrier, making it more prone for transepidermal water loss to occur. A tell-tale sign that your cleanser is drying you out? Your skin has a tight, “squeaky clean” feeling immediately after using it. Avoid any soap-based cleansers, and instead opt for a gentle foaming formula, like the Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser, or a deeply moisturizing, oil-based balm, like our Papaya Sorbet Enzyme Cleansing Balm (fun fact: its fruit enzymes also brighten skin, too). With our double cleansing method, you can use both without stripping your skin.

Before you cleanse, consider how your skin feels and looks — then read our guide!

The Dry Skin Culprit: Skipping the moisturizer

No matter what type of skin you’ve got, moisturizing should be a non-negotiable step in your routine — especially in the winter. When choosing one that you can be sure will effectively hydrate your skin, you’ll want to look for a formula with humectants, which attract and retain moisture, occlusives, which create a barrier that prevents that moisture from evaporating into the air, and emollients, which fill the cracks between the walls of your skin cells to leave your complexion smooth. You can find all three in the Watermelon Glow Pink Juice Moisturizer, which your skin will slurp right up. 

Oily skin needs moisturizer, too. Here’s how to hydrate right.

Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Pink Dream Body Cream

The Dry Skin Culprit: Skimping on the body lotion

Since winter-dry skin isn’t just limited to your face, you’ll want to be sure to slather on a hydrating lotion or cream every time you step out of the shower. This will help to restore some of the moisture that was lost as a result of your lather-and-rinse routine, and give your skin an extra layer of protection from the environment.

But the process can add extra time to your morning routine, what with massaging it in and waiting for it to absorb when you have a busy day ahead of you. That’s where the new Watermelon Glow Pink Dream Body Cream comes in. With the ability to both balance hydration and gently smooth skin texture — the combo that made our Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask such a fan favorite — its lightweight, whipped texture feels luxurious and allows it to sink in within seconds, making it pajama-proof (and easy to get jeans on, too). 

The Dry Skin Culprit: Doubling down on harsh exfoliants

In the same way that cleansers can strip your skin, using too many intense actives can do the same. Dr. Campbell explains that going in hard with exfoliating ingredients, like AHAs, BHAs, and scrubs, can ultimately leave your skin raw and more easily exposed to environmental damage — though it may be tempting to scrub away dry, flaky skin.

In order to keep your complexion protected, limit your exfoliating practice to one or two times a week, and look for formulas that combine your actives with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid or squalane. At Glow Recipe, we use fruit enzymes and hibiscus-derived AHAs, which are gentle enough for everyday use.