When your skin looks like Sahara, it’s natural to think that more is more. More serums, more creams, and more lotions equals more hydration for your dry skin, right? But according to Boston dermatologist Ranella Hirsch, applying a little method to this madness can have great results. “By interspersing the right types of products with each other, you can really improve their effectiveness,” she says. (For example, the more delicate rosewater essence won’t do any good for dry skin if sprayed on heavy cream.) In general, you’ll want to use the thinnest and least occlusive products of first, then up, much like layering a silk bra under a chunky sweater. After that, it really depends on you. Here, our definitive guide to treating dry skin properly, one drop at a time.
1. Water is the first step.
OK, not exactly water. Essences, which are waters infused with humectant ingredients like glycerin, could be considered water 2.0. In general, it is best to soak a cotton ball in the liquid, measure your skin, and let it air dry. (Side note: this feels ah-mahz-ing.) SK-II Facial Care Essence is a particularly pleasant version enriched with the brand’s exclusive ingredient, Pitera, a mixture derived from the fermentation of yeasts that accelerates cell renewal.
2. Now let’s move on to the serum.
Because they are so light and easily absorbed, “the serums deliver active ingredients to the skin more effectively,” Hirsch explains. You’re going to want to look for one that’s incredibly hydrating—Kate Somerville Quench Hydrating Face Serum does the job with lipids, silicones and retinols; Mario Bedescu Hydrating Herbal Serum contains glycerin and barrier repair ceramides.
3. C light.
See what we did there? You might have the lingering idea that anything you put on dry skin should help soften it. But a few drops of brightening vitamin C can boost the overall function of your skin cells, meaning future cells will be less prone to drying out.
is a classic (and expensive) option; sprinkle with Philosophy cheaper and just as effective Turbo Booster C Powder in heavy moisturizer in the next step will also work.
4. Go big.
Now is the time to go for the really creamy, really thick, and truly satisfying cream your skin craves. We like
, which is a bit unsuitable for this thick, sweet and fragrant buttery dough. (To be fair, it absorbs completely and easily.)
5. Finish with SPF.
Sunscreen should always be used last – you want it to be the first line of defense against the sun’s rays. Just be sure to allow your heavier moisturizers time to fully penetrate before applying them so that you get the proper amount on the skin. If you want to skip step 4, a moisturizing sunscreen, like
which contains niacinamide, is the clutch.
Now learn how to prepare your skin for the cold of winter.