A beauty editor’s guide to fixing dehydrated, dry skin in five easy steps

Say goodbye to sore, flaky, itchy and scaly skin.

Ah, winter. Whether you’re more at home on a beach or ready to put up your Christmas tree from the 1st November, there’s no denying the joy the chillier seasons can bring. But whilst brisk countryside walks and cosy evenings spent watching Netflix with the heating ramped up high might make you feel like an extra in a festive romcom, your dry skin won’t necessarily thank you for it.

Skipping outdoor activities is no fun, and neither is shivering whilst trying to settle into the latest season of the Crown, so it’s skincare to the rescue to remedy dry skin. We reveal how to stop flaky, itchy and all-round unhappy skin.

Is my skin dry or dehydrated?

First up, it’s important to identify if you have dry skin or dehydrated skin. If you’ve only noticed a change as the weather has started to chill, then you’re likely to be suffering from the later.

What is dry skin?

Dry skin is a skin-type and long-term problem, caused by having fewer oil-producing glands on the face and body. The most common characteristics are flakiness and rough, scaly texture, with sufferers relying on oil-rich ingredients to keep their skin comfortable and healthy.

What is dehydrated skin?

Dehydrated skin on the other hand is lacking in water and can be brought on by anything from poor diet (not uncommon during the festive season!), to the lack of moisture in the air during the winter months. While dehydrated complexions can also show themselves through roughness and flaking, it’s not uncommon to experience over-sensitivity, tightness and break outs too.

How can I treat dry skin or dehydrated winter skin?

The treatments are the same for both dry skin and dehydrated skin, though the period you treat them for is probably different. Dry skin will require ongoing care, the treatment of dehydrated skin should hopefully be temporary.

Because dry and dehydrated skin is suffering from a shortage of water, you need to reincorporate that missing moisture through your skincare routine.

Treat dehydrated, dry skin in 5 easy steps

1. Try a Hyaluronic acid

Start by stocking up on hero hydrators! With a single molecule holding up to 1000 times its own weight in water, hyaluronic acid is our first port of call for rehydrating thirsty skin. It helps strengthen your skin’s barrier function too, not just adding moisture but making sure your skin clings onto it. Perfect for anyone who doesn’t like the feel of thick creams and balms, hyaluronic acid tends to be nice and light in texture – especially important if your skin is naturally oily but in a temporary dry spell. Try adding Me+ Hyaluronic Booster, £5.99, Superdrug, to your usual moisturiser.

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2. Look for Ceramides

Ceramides are next in the queue. Like hyaluronic acid, they’re naturally occurring in the skin (making up over 50% of it) but they play a more important role in protecting your skin from the elements. Ceramides are essentially a type of fatty molecule called a lipid, which work to hold your skin cells together. When skin is lacking in ceramides it’s barrier is compromised, meaning not only is your complexion more prone to damage from pollutants and stressors, moisture can escape too. CeraVe is a brilliant brand for both dry and dehydrated skin, with their Facial Moisturising Lotion, £13, Boots, packed full of three different ceramides as well as hyaluronic acid. By flooding skin with much-needed moisture, it will not only feel more comfortable but you’ll find it looks plumper too, with fine lines and wrinkles less prominent.

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3. Exfoliate regularly

It might sound counter-productive to exfoliate when your skin is feeling sore and in need of extra TLC, but hear us out. Not only will buffing away those dead skin cells leave your skin satisfyingly soft, without them in the way your skin will be able to better absorb any moisturiser you slather on. Don’t use anything too abrasive (harsh acids and scratchy scrubs are off the menu) instead opting for low doses of glycolic acid or gentle polishes. It’s not cheap, but Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant, £51, is the best scrub we’ve tried, leaving skin super smooth. Equally if you’re cautious about introducing acids, Indeed Lab’s No Acid Pads, £19.99, Boots, offer the same exfoliating and retexturizing benefits of AHAs with no risk of irritation.

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4. Use a gentle foaming cleanser

Over cleansing can be a key cause of dry skin or dehydration. And contrary to what we are lead to believe, all skin types, including dry and dehydrated skin, can be prone to breakouts. When this happens resist the urge to bring out the astringent, skin-stripping spot treatments of your teens and instead focus on rehydrating the skin. It’s tempting to over-wash your face if your suffering from spots, but morning and night is enough. Any more and you run the risk of robbing skin of the extra hydration your moisturiser is providing. Curél Foaming Facial Wash, £12.50, Boots, is great, giving the satisfaction of a foam with none of uncomfortable tightness.

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5. Avoid hot water

Whilst it’s sub-zero outside and almost-sweltering with central heating inside, this confusion of temperatures is one of the main causes of dehydrated winter skin. And lounging in a steamy bath after spending time in the cold won’t make matters any better. To avoid further drying out your skin, keep the temperature of your taps warm rather than hot. Too-hot water can irritate rosacea too, so you’re also likely to notice an improvement in flare-ups when washing with cooler temperatures.