Does your skin become rough and dry by mid-day, despite moisturizing it? While moisturizing is an essential step in your skincare routine, not all moisturizers work for dry skin.
In fact, the wrong product can leave your skin dehydrated within a few hours of application.
Hence, it is important to know which ingredients repair and nourish dry skin and ensure that your moisturizer includes them.
Read on to know the best ingredients to look for in a moisturizer for dry skin and tips to keep skin hydrated in all seasons.
Our Ayurvedic Doctor Speaks
“A dry skin moisturizer should be close to the natural lipid layer of the skin, without being extreme in oiliness and dryness. Look for ingredients like vitamin E, Karanja oil, wheatgerm oil, and ceramides. Avoid silicone-based skin moisturizers, as they may worsen the dryness.”
-Dr. Zeel Gandhi (Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine & Surgery), Chief Ayurvedic Doctor, Vedix
How Do Moisturizers Work For Dry Skin?
A damaged skin barrier is one of the primary reasons why your skin loses moisture. Depletion of the epidermal barrier can result in excess transepidermal water loss and leave your skin feeling dry, flaky and dull.
Dehydrated skin also contributes to the premature appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Inflammation, redness and susceptibility to infection are other major problems of dry skin.
A good moisturizer strengthens your skin by repairing the skin barrier and replenishing your skin’s moisture requirement. Moisturizers for dry skin contain humectants that draw in moisture, emollients that keep your skin soft and supple and occlusives that act as a protective layer.
Therefore, a moisturizer for dry skin works  in the following ways. It:
- Improves your skin’s moisture content.
- Prevents corneocyte accumulation on the skin’s surface as in the case of acute dry skin or xerosis.
- Enhances your skin’s ability to absorb and distribute moisture.
- Forms a protective barrier and shields your skin from friction and environmental damage.
- Sheaths and heals cracks in the skin.
- Prevents unwanted transepidermal water loss.
- Improves skin texture and appearance.
- Soothes itchiness (antipruritic), prevents inflammation by inhibiting pro-inflammatory factors, reduces skin irritation and redness.
- Improves skin functions.
Moisturizers are specifically advised in the treatment of contact dermatitis, as frequent moisturizing protects and strengthens the skin.
How To Choose A Moisturizer For Dry Skin?
When choosing a moisturizer for dry skin, look for slightly viscous products that stay effective for long hours. Ingredients that have hydrating, anti-inflammatory, emollient, cell renewal, repairing and healing properties are best for dry skin.
According to the natural science of Ayurveda, an aggravation of the vata dosha leads to dry skin. Thus, choosing a dry skin moisturizer that contains vata-balancing herbs will be more beneficial.
As per Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix, “Dry skin is an anomaly that calls for special measures to correct it. Dry skin is more susceptible to changes in the environment, pollution, sun and wind. It also ages faster. The barrier damage can also trigger acne.”
She adds, “A dry skin moisturizer should be close to the natural lipid layer of the skin, without being extreme in oiliness and dryness. Look for ingredients like vitamin E, Karanja oil, wheatgerm oil, and ceramides. Avoid silicone-based skin moisturizers, as they may worsen the dryness.”
Ingredients To Look For In Moisturizers For Dry Skin
A. Natural Ingredients For Dry Skin
1. Wheat Germ Oil
An amazing natural source of vitamin E, vitamin B complex and linoleic acid, wheat germ oil  is a common ingredient in moisturizers for dry skin.
Extracted from the germ or embryo of the wheat grain, this oil also displays anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It nourishes dry skin, heals eczema and psoriasis-like conditions and protects the skin barrier against environmental damages.
A tridosha pacifier, this ancient wonder herb of Ayurveda consists of haritaki, amalaki and bibhitaki. It is an excellent healer of various Kushtha rogas (skin disorders) including dry skin.
It has powerful antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-aging and skin-brightening abilities. Triphala  as a natural moisturizer for dry skin helps to renew structural proteins and keep your skin youthful and glowing.
3. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera  is a popular medicinal herb extensively used in skincare for its antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, wound-healing and skin brightening abilities. Further, an aloe vera moisturizer for dry skin helps to hydrate and prevent skin sensitivity.
A herbal moisturizer for dry skin that contains bakuchi can help prevent inflammation, redness and itchy sensation. It detoxifies, repairs and balances the vata dosha, which is responsible for skin dryness.
Shatavari’s ability to pacify the vata and pitta doshas and also remove toxins from your blood helps cure a variety of skin diseases. An organic moisturizer containing shatavari can benefit dry skin by reducing dermatitis and xerosis-like conditions and enhancing your skin’s immunity and youth.
6. Colloidal Oatmeal
Colloidal oatmeal  is a natural treatment for dry, flaky, damaged skin. Its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and sun-protecting properties come from the presence of phenols in it. Further, starches and beta-glucan in oats display a humectant action and absorb moisture into your skin.
Not many natural ingredients can beat the ability of avocados when it comes to repairing and nourishing dry skin. It is rich in biotin, vitamins A, C, D, E, linoleic acid and oleic acid. These give it its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, collagen-promoting and emollient properties.
8. Shea Butter
Extracted from the kernels of the shea seed, this natural butter is packed with triglycerides, essential fatty acids such as oleic, palmitic and stearic acids, vitamin E, phenols and triterpenes.
Not just dry skin, shea butter’s gentle nature also benefits those with sensitive skin . A moisturizer for dry skin containing shea butter can hydrate, soften, repair and prevent itchiness, irritations and inflammatory conditions.
A popular fruit and a staple diet in many countries, banana extracts are included in various moisturizers for dry skin. Studies reveal that banana pulp and peel contain a variety of phenols such as catechins, tannins, anthocyanins etc. which contribute to its antioxidant properties.
Also owing to the presence of vitamin C, B and high amounts of potassium, banana keeps dry skin soft, healthy and moisturized.
Honey is a natural humectant with anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties. Using a moisturizer that contains honey can not only hydrate your dry skin but also keep it safe from infections.
Chamomiles are a natural remedy for dry, sensitive or eczema-prone skin. According to research, the high content of terpenoids and flavonoids are responsible for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
12. Soy Beans/ Soy Milk
Isoflavones  (plant compounds) in soy extracts have a soothing and moisturizing effect on dry skin. Soy-milk-based moisturizers for dry skin can fight free radical damage and keep your skin soft, young and glowing.
13. Plant/ Fruit Seed Oils
There’s a long list of plant oils  and fruit seed oils that benefit dry skin owing to the active bio-compounds present in them. Choosing moisturizers that contain any of the following oils can hydrate, repair and strengthen your dry skin.
1. Coconut oil
2. Olive oil
3. Sesame oil
4. Argan oil
5. Soybean oil
6. Jojoba oil
7. Pomegranate seed oil
8. Rosehip oil
9. Raspberry seed oil
10. Safflower oil
11. Linseed oil
B. Other Emollients, Humectants And Occlusives For Dry Skin
Ceramides  are the main lipid constituents in the stratum corneum that make up the skin barrier. Depletion of these waxy lipids increases barrier permeability and transepidermal water loss, eventually leading to dry skin. Ceramide moisturizers for dry skin externally supplement your skin’s lipid production and enhance its moisture-holding capacity.
2. Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid  or hyaluronan is naturally produced in your skin and works to seal water molecules into your skin. However, as you age, your body’s content of hyaluronic acid decreases, causing your skin to easily lose essential moisture. Supplying your dry skin with a moisturizer that contains hyaluronic acid increases skin hydration, minimizes signs of aging and keeps your skin looking plump, dewy and full of youth.
3. Omega 3 And Omega 6 Fatty Acids
According to research, supplying your skin with both groups of polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6) improves skin function and prevents dry skin and dermatitis. Since these essential fatty acids cannot be synthesized within the body, topical application of moisturizers that contain these nutrients enhances moisture retention and structural stability of your skin.
This triterpene is one of the primary components of your skin surface lipids. Squalane  is added to skincare products such as moisturizers meant for dry skin due to its antioxidant, anti-cancer, emollient and protective abilities. It is especially useful in improving the rough texture of dry skin and scavenging free radicals to slow down premature skin aging.
A form of vitamin B3, niacinamide  has gained popularity in skincare for its powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties. It also plays an important role in promoting ceramide production and cell renewal, which in turn reduces transepidermal water loss, improves skin barrier function and prevents dry skin.
C. What Ingredients To Avoid In Your Moisturizer For Dry Skin?
Retinol, a type of vitamin A, is often advised for the treatment of acne-prone skin for its ability to increase cell turnover rate. However, retinol-based products can irritate dry skin and are better avoided in moisturizers.
2. Salicylic Acid
Salicylic acid is used in skincare as an exfoliator for sloughing off dead cells that can clog your pores. However, it also has a drying effect on the skin and may prove to be detrimental as an ingredient in a moisturizer for dry skin.
These are chemical preservatives (known to be carcinogenic) that are added to skincare and cosmetics to increase their shelf life. Needless to say, these chemical additives possess potential risk for your skin health.
Scented moisturizers are better avoided as they can irritate sensitive dry skin. It is always safer to stick to unscented herbal products.
Mist your skin with rose water and then apply your moisturizer for enhanced hydration.
How To Moisturize Dry Skin Naturally?
Below mentioned are a few Ayurvedic and homemade moisturizers for your dry skin:
A. Ayurvedic Moisturizers For Dry Skin
1. Aloe Vera And Hibiscus
While both these Ayurvedic herbs are known for their hydrating properties, they also exhibit potent antioxidant and cell renewal abilities. Aloe vera and hibiscus make for a great body moisturizer for dry skin in summer.
- Extract ½ cup of fresh aloe vera gel and add the petals of 5-6 hibiscus flowers to it.
- Blend well and apply this herbal moisturizer on your dry skin.
2. Raw Ghee
Dr. Zeel says, “A spoon of ghee is a savior for dry skin. Traditionally in Ayurveda, a cream moisturizer was made with ghee and rose water, known as shata dhauta ghrita. This helped seal-in moisture without causing breakouts.”
Additionally, uncooked ghee can balance vata and pitta doshas on your skin. Using it daily helps to hydrate and repair dry skin. Massage your dry skin twice daily with raw ghee.
3. Sesame Oil, Triphala And Yashtimadhu
Sesame oil is used as the base oil for various Ayurvedic medicinal preparations for its healing properties. Both triphala and yashtimadhu pacify the vata dosha and help moisturize and strengthen dry, damaged skin.
- Add 1 tablespoon each of triphala and yashtimadhu powders to 200-250 ml sesame oil.
- Simmer the oil for 5 to 7 minutes on low flame.
- Cool the oil to room temperature, strain and use as a herbal moisturizer for your dry skin.
B. Homemade Moisturizer For Dry Skin
1. Glycerin And Coconut Oil
Derived majorly from plant oils, glycerin is a natural moisturizer for dry skin. It plays the role of a humectant that absorbs moisture into your skin and improves your skin’s water content. Using it together with an occlusive agent like coconut oil helps attract and lock moisture into your skin.
- Mix ½ cup of glycerin with ½ cup of cold-pressed coconut oil.
- Apply this natural moisturizer for dry skin on your body and massage gently till the product is well absorbed.
2. Coconut Cream And Avocado
Both are rich sources of vitamin E and greatly benefit dry skin.
- Take half a cup of coconut cream and a ripe avocado and blend to make a paste.
- Apply this thick natural moisturizer daily on your dry skin.
3. Soy Milk And Honey
Both ingredients are known for their antioxidant, anti-aging and skin-soothing properties. Further, honey’s humectant nature increases skin hydration and its wound-healing properties help repair dry skin.
- Take a cup of soy milk and add 3-4 tablespoons of honey to it.
- Mix well and apply this light body moisturizer to your dry skin twice a day.
4. Rosehip Oil And Almond Oil
Both oils nourish, hydrate, soften and brighten dry skin.
- Mix 3 tablespoons of rosehip oil with 4 tablespoons of almond oil.
- Massage this twice daily to alleviate dry skin.
5. Papaya, Milk And Manuka Honey
All three ingredients help nourish dry skin and keep inflammatory conditions like dermatitis at bay.
- Chop a ripe papaya and add a cup of it to ¼ cup of raw milk and 3 tablespoons of manuka honey.
- Blend well and apply on your dry skin.
6. Kokum Butter
Kokum butter made from the oil extracted from kokum seeds has exceptional nourishing properties and can be safely used as a face moisturizer for dry skin.
- Take a small bowl of kokum butter and heat it till it completely melts.
- Now add ½ cup of a light carrier oil (jojoba/ grapeseed/ safflower) and 3-4 drops of lavender/ chamomile essential oil.
- Mix well and let it set.
- Now use a hand blender to whip the hardened butter.
- Store the whipped kokum butter in a glass jar and use it regularly to moisturize your dry skin.
Dr. Zeel says, “A good diet can also help balance the dry qualities of vata. So, introduce more healthy oily foods like almonds, walnuts and coconut in your diet. Also, water is an overlooked skin elixir, so hydrate well.”
Dry Skin Moisturization Tips In Summer
1. Apply your moisturizer while your skin is still damp after a shower.  Applying moisturizer on damp skin aids its absorption into the deeper layers of the skin and enhances product effectiveness.
2. Avoid prolonged hot water baths.
3. Choose moisturizers that have a water base, to prevent pore clogging during the summers when your skin already has to deal with excess oil and sweat.
4. Choose ingredients that have a cooling effect on the skin like cucumbers and aloe vera.
5. Use non-comedogenic moisturizers.
6. Limit your sun exposure and use moisturizers that contain SPF.
7. Increase your intake of fluids to battle dry skin from the inside.
Dry Skin Moisturization Tips In Winter
1. Keep a light moisturizer handy while dealing with acute dry skin in winter. Apply it frequently whenever your skin feels dehydrated.
2. Mist your skin before applying the moisturizer for better absorption of the product.
3. Use a humectant or a water-based moisturizer first and then layer it with a cream-based moisturizer for better hydration.
4. Choose ingredients that keep the skin hydrated for long hours. Eg. coconut, jojoba, avocado and other plant oils.
5. Include ingredients that improve your skin barrier to prevent dryness and excess transepidermal water loss.
6. After applying the moisturizer, massage gently to avoid excess friction.
The Last Word
Various dermatologists suggest that dry skin need not be a skin type that causes concern. Simple precautionary measures along with a good moisturizer can effectively reverse skin dryness.
However, it is important to choose the right product as per your prakriti (body constitution) to achieve desired results. So consult your Ayurvedic doctor to know your dosha levels and follow the above-mentioned tips to select the most effective moisturizer for your dry skin.Know Your Dosha Now
1. The Role Of Moisturizers In Addressing Various Kinds Of Dermatitis: A Review, 2017 December
2. Wheat Germ Supplementation Increases Lactobacillaceae And Promotes An Anti-Inflammatory Gut Milieu In C57BL/6 Mice Fed A High-Fat, High-Sucrose Diet, 2019 July
3. Protective Effects Of Triphala On Dermal Fibroblasts And Human Keratinocytes, 2016 January
4. Pharmacological Update Properties Of Aloe Vera And Its Major Active Constituents, 2020 March
5. Colloidal Oatmeal: History, Chemistry And Clinical Properties, 2007 March
6. Skin Acceptability Of A Cosmetic Moisturizer Formulation In Female Subjects With Sensitive Skin, 2018 April
7. Research Suggests Soy Isoflavones May Help Promote Skin Health, 2016 July
8. Anti-Inflammatory And Skin Barrier Repair Effects Of Topical Application Of Some Plant Oils, 2018 January
9. Ceramide Biosynthesis In Keratinocyte And Its Role In Skin Function, 2009 June
10. The Role Of Hyaluronic Acid And Amino Acid Against The Aging Of The Human Skin: A Clinical And Histological Study, 2021 July
11. Biological And Pharmacological Activities Of Squalene And Related Compounds: Potential Uses In Cosmetic Dermatology, 2009 January
12. How Much Do We Really Know About Our Favorite Cosmeceutical Ingredients?, 2010 February
13. Dermatologists’ Top Tips For Relieving Dry Skin
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