When it comes to the perfect complexion, words like “dewy,” “smooth,” “hydrated,” and “youthful-looking” all come to mind—but “dry” and “flaky?” Not so much. Dry, flaky skin on your face is clearly not the skin type most people strive for—and if you’re a person who struggles with dry or flaky skin, you know what a struggle it can be to get your complexion back on track. But getting the hydrated and smooth complexion you crave certainly isn’t impossible. The key to getting rid of dry, flaky skin on your face? Understanding where it comes from—and the proper way to treat it. If you're looking for information on how to fix flaky skin, and the best way to get rid of it - you've come to the right place.
Dry Skin Causes
Dryness is a common skin issue—but it doesn’t make having dry skin on your face any easier. If you struggle with dryness, the key to getting your skin properly hydrated is understanding the root cause.
Dry skin on your face is typically the result of one of two issues: natural dryness or dehydration.
- Natural dryness
If you struggle with dryness, it might just be a side effect of your skin type. Your skin type is determined by how much oil or sebum your skin produces. If your skin produces an abundance of oil, giving it a shiny appearance and “slick” feeling, you have an oily skin type. If your skin only produces oil in specific areas of the face (most commonly the forehead, chin, and nose, also known as the T-zone), you have combination skin. If your skin is fairly balanced in its oil production, you have what’s considered a normal skin type. And if your skin doesn’t produce enough oil, you have a dry skin. People with a dry skin type typically struggle with skin that feels overly tight, sensitive, and (obviously) dry. This can also manifest as flaky skin, a.k.a. dead skin cells, depending on the individual.
If your dryness isn’t a result of your skin type, chances are, your skin is dehydrated. With a dehydrated complexion, your skin still produces oil—it just lacks the water it needs to stay properly hydrated. A telltale sign your skin is dehydrated? An oily surface—but skin that feels tight, irritated, and overly dry underneath.This lack of water can lead to you experiencing dehydrated flaky skin, or tight flaky skin.
Flaky Skin Causes
Dry skin is a definite problem—but when you add flaky skin to the equation, it gets even more difficult to manage. This can happen for all sorts of reasons. Excessive dryness or dehydration, a reaction to a skincare product, or a symptom of a more serious skin condition (like eczema or psoriasis) can be some of the culprits. Lack of a proper skincare regimen or a consistent skincare routine can also cause issues. If you don't cleanse your skin on a regular basis, dirt, oil and dead skin cells will buildup on the skin barrier, causing clogged pores, irritation and itchy skin. Many people also find they only have a flaky T-zone, or that they need to address flaky skin or dry patches on a certain area of the face.
Before treating flaky skin, it’s important to determine where the flakiness is coming from. You could be sleeping in dry conditions or dry air (air-conditioned room) which can affect skin. Try using a humidifier at night. The added moisture in the air will help. The COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc on our daily routines. We are skipping showers, not washing our faces everyday. Dirt is sitting on the skin's surface. Sunbathing (or the dreaded sunburn) will also contribute to issues as well as taking hot showers or dealing with a medical condition that requires certain medications —all causes of the issue.
How To Treat Dry, Flaky Skin On Your Face
So, now that we covered the potential causes of dry, flaky skin on your face, let’s jump into the good stuff—how to treat it.
There are many different suggestions and home remedies for how to fix dry, flaky skin on the internet, however here are a few trusted treatments that can have your complexion smooth and hydrated in no time:
- Use more emollient moisturizers
If your skin is naturally dry, it’s important to use be moisturizing your skin in the am and pm. In the daytime, use a hydrating oil (which will easily penetrate the skin) or a light moisturizer or lotion containing ceramides or alpha hydroxy acids. These ingredients will help hydrate the skin throughout the day and will not irritate sensitive skin. A sunscreen-based moisturizer is always a good idea, everyday. Just ask any dermatologist.
At night, substitute a thicker night cream (more emollient creams may not penetrate completely into the skin upon application, but that’s ok—they’ll continue hydrating your skin while you sleep). Shea Butter is known for its intense moisturizing properties. Use products with retinoids with caution, they may act as an irritant to more sensitive skin types.
- Exfoliating skin will remove the flakes in a flash.
Use a gentle exfoliating product (nothing with microbeads or abrasive "shell" ingredients). Apply to a warm washcloth and gently massage skin. Rinse away with warm water and pat dry. Ensure water temperature as hot water will just irritate and further dry skin. If flaking seems to be constant, plan to exfoliate skin at least once a week to keep skin's surface in peak condition.
- Replenish your skin’s hydration level with hyaluronic acid
If your dryness is a result of dehydration, it’s important to replenish the water in your skin—which you can do with hyaluronic acid.
Hyaluronic acid is a humectant that can bind up to 1000 times its weight in water—and it’s a miracle ingredient when it comes to treating dehydrated skin. Layer a hyaluronic acid serum onto your skin after cleanser and before moisturizer twice a day for best results.
- Talk to your dermatologist
If your skin doesn’t respond to at-home treatments or if you suspect the dry, flaky skin on your face is a result of a more serious skin condition, make an appointment with your dermatologist. They may be able to recommend a prescription-strength skin care regimen to help get your flakiness and dryness under control.