why is my skin so dry even when i moisturize

The REAL Reason Why Your Skin Is So Dry Even After Moisturizing

There's nothing worse than having dry skin even after moisturizing. Here's why it happens and how to fix it for good!
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We all want soft, supple skin that glows, but sometimes it feels like no matter how much moisturizer we slather on, our skin still looks and feels dry. What gives? As it turns out, there are a few reasons why your skin might not be soaking up that hydrating goodness like it should be. In this article, we’ll delve into the real reasons why your skin might be dry even after moisturizing, and what you can do to get the silky-smooth skin you desire.

Let’s get to the bottom of this skincare mystery!

The symptoms of dry skin

When it comes to dry skin even after moisturizing, the symptoms can be uncomfortable and annoying. Here are some common signs to look out for:

  • Tightness: Your skin might feel tight, especially after washing your face or taking a shower. This is a result of your skin lacking moisture and can be a sign that your skin is dehydrated.
  • Itchiness: Dry skin can also be itchy, which can be especially bothersome at night. Scratching can further irritate the skin and lead to inflammation.
  • Flakiness: If you notice dry, flaky patches on your skin, it could be a sign of dryness. These patches can be especially common on the face, hands, and legs.
  • Roughness: Dry skin can also feel rough to the touch, like sandpaper. This can be due to the lack of natural oils in the skin.
  • Redness: In some cases, dry skin can cause redness, especially on the face. This can be a sign of inflammation and irritation.
  • Cracks: In severe cases, dry skin can crack and even bleed, which can be painful and uncomfortable. This is more common on the hands and feet, where the skin is thicker and more prone to dryness.

The causes of dry skin

There are a few things that could be causing your skin to feel like the Sahara desert, even after you’ve applied your favorite moisturizer. Here are some common culprits:

Hot showers

Long, hot showers feel amazing, especially on a chilly day, but they can be brutal on your skin. Hot water strips the skin of its natural oils, leaving it dry and itchy. To avoid this, try turning the temperature down a notch or two, and limit your shower time to no more than 10 minutes. Also, avoid using harsh exfoliants and instead opt for a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser to protect your skin’s natural barrier.

Harsh soaps

Some soaps can be too harsh for your skin, especially if they contain sulfates, fragrances, or other harsh chemicals. These can strip your skin of its natural oils and leave it feeling dry and irritated. Swimming in chlorinated water in your favorite local swimming pool can also contribute. Opt for gentle, fragrance-free cleansers instead, and look for formulas that are specifically designed for dry or sensitive skin. These will help to cleanse your skin without causing further dryness or irritation.

Low humidity

Dry air can zap moisture from your skin, leaving it feeling parched. This is especially true during the winter months when the air tends to be dry and harsh. Consider using a humidifier in your home to add moisture to the air, and avoid using space heaters or other heating devices that can further dry out the air.


If you’re not drinking enough water, your skin could be suffering. Water is essential for keeping your skin hydrated, and without enough of it, your skin can become dry, flaky, and dull. Aim for at least 8 glasses of water a day, and avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol, which can dehydrate you. You can also eat water-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables to supplement your water intake.

Medical conditions

Certain medical conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis, can cause dry skin. These conditions can be chronic and may require treatment from a dermatologist. If you suspect that a medical condition might be to blame for your dry skin, consult with your doctor to get an accurate diagnosis and the right treatment.


As we age, our skin becomes thinner, drier, and less elastic, making it more prone to dryness and wrinkles. To combat this, use a moisturizer with ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides, which help to plump up the skin and lock in moisture.


Unfortunately, some people are just more prone to dry skin than others, thanks to genetics. If you have a family history of dry skin, it’s important to be extra diligent about moisturizing and protecting your skin.

Sun damage

Excessive sun exposure can damage your skin’s natural barrier, making it more prone to dryness and dark spots. Always wear sunscreen with at least SPF 30 when you’re outside, and avoid spending time in the sun during peak hours (10am-4pm).

Expired product use

Using expired skincare products can cause irritation and dryness. Check the expiration dates on your products regularly, and replace any that are past their prime.

How to treat dry skin with moisturizer

If you get dry skin even after using moisturizer, you may need to adjust your technique. Here are some handy tips we’ve put together to help you get the most out of your favorite creams and gels.

Choose the right moisturizer

Look for a moisturizer that’s designed for dry skin and has ingredients like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides. These ingredients help to attract and retain moisture in the skin, keeping it hydrated and healthy.[1]  The right product will significantly lower the chances of your skin being dry even after moisturizing.

Apply it to damp skin

When you apply moisturizer to damp skin, it helps to lock in moisture and prevent water loss. After washing your face or taking a shower, gently pat your skin dry with a towel and then apply your moisturizer.

Use the right amount

Using too much or too little moisturizer can affect how well it works. Use a pea-sized amount for your face and a quarter-sized amount for your body. Applying too much can clog pores and make your skin feel greasy while applying too little won’t provide enough hydration.

Don’t forget your hands

Your hands are often exposed to harsh elements and can get dry easily. Apply moisturizer to your hands throughout the day, especially after washing them. Look for a hand cream that’s specifically formulated for dry skin.

Protect your skin

Moisturizer can only do so much if you’re not protecting your skin from harsh elements like wind and sun. Use broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and wear protective clothing like a hat and sunglasses. Avoid spending too much time in the sun, especially during peak hours.

Avoid irritants

Certain products and ingredients can irritate and dry out your skin, like alcohol-based toners and harsh scrubs. Avoid these and stick to gentle, fragrance-free products. Be mindful of the products you’re using on your skin and read ingredient labels carefully.

Don’t rely on moisturizer alone

While moisturizer is an important step in treating and preventing dry skin, it’s not the only one. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Avoid long hot showers, which can strip your skin of natural oils, and use a humidifier to add moisture to the air in your home.

By following these tips, you can effectively treat and prevent dry skin with moisturizer. Remember to be consistent and patient, as it may take some time to see results.

Natural remedies for moisturizing

Sometimes, getting back to nature is the best way forward. If you’re not keen on spending money on products, there are many natural moisturizing alternatives.

Here are some of our favorites:

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is a great natural moisturizer for dry skin. It contains fatty acids that help to hydrate and protect the skin’s barrier. Simply apply a small amount of coconut oil to your skin and massage gently.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera is a soothing plant that can help to calm dry, irritated skin. It’s also a natural humectant, which means it helps to attract and retain moisture. You can use aloe vera gel directly from the plant or look for products that contain aloe vera.


Honey is a natural humectant and also has antibacterial properties, making it a great option for dry, acne-prone skin. Apply a thin layer of honey to your skin and let it sit for 15-20 minutes before rinsing off with warm water.


Oatmeal is a gentle exfoliant that can help to soothe dry, itchy skin. It’s also a natural anti-inflammatory, which can help to reduce redness and irritation. Mix oatmeal with a bit of water to create a paste and apply it to your skin in circular motions before rinsing off.

Jojoba oil

Jojoba oil is a lightweight oil that’s similar in composition to the natural oils in our skin. It’s easily absorbed and can help to hydrate and protect the skin. Apply a few drops of jojoba oil to your skin and massage gently.

Shea butter

Shea butter is a natural emollient that can help to soften and hydrate dry skin. It’s also rich in vitamins A and E, which can help to nourish and protect the skin. Apply shea butter to your skin and massage gently.

By using these natural remedies, you can effectively moisturize your dry skin without having to rely on store-bought products. Experiment with different ingredients to find what works best for your skin type and be consistent in your routine.


Dry skin can be a frustrating and uncomfortable issue to deal with, but by understanding the common causes and symptoms, using moisturizers effectively, and incorporating natural remedies, you can achieve healthy and hydrated skin.

Remember to be patient and consistent in your skincare routine, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different methods to find what works best for you.

Over time, the chances of you getting dry skin even after moisturizing will decrease. It’s all about getting the moisturizer right and applying the correct techniques. Good luck.

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This article has been reviewed by the in-field experts on our Medical Content Advisory Board to ensure everything is up-to-date and accurate.