What Causes Dry Skin?


Published on January 30, 2024, by Astrid

Reading time : 5 minutes

Dry skin is primarily a skin type determined by genetic factors. However, the term is often used to describe a temporary skin condition: dehydration. This condition can affect anyone, regardless of skin type or age. Uncomfortable, sometimes even painful, this sensation of dry skin can affect your overall well-being. Understanding its underlying causes is essential to effective skin care and a proper routine.


Recognizing dry skin

Signs of dry skin

While dry skin lacks oil, dehydrated skin lacks water. Dry skin produces less sebum (oil) than normal skin, so it doesn't have enough of a lipid barrier to retain water, act as a protective film, and be effective against external aggression.

If you have a dry skin type, your skin may feel rough. It may look tight and dull, and your face may have areas of flaky skin that give you a feeling of constant discomfort, sometimes with a burning sensation. Your pores are constricted (invisible) and you're prone to fine lines and irritation.

Signs of skin dehydration

Although it's more likely to affect dry skin, dehydration can also affect oily or combination skin.
Your may experience uncomfortable or itchy skin, especially after cleansing, and makeup won't stay on as well. Your skin lacks radiance and its color varies from reddish in fair skin to grayish (ashen) in brown and black skin. You may notice flaky skin and that fine surface lines begin to appear around your eyes, forehead and cheeks. In short, dehydrated skin needs to be soothed, comforted and moisturized. Dry or dehydrated skin requires you to adjust your skin care routine to restore the skin's protective hydrolipidic film and avoid short- and long-term problems: discomfort, rough or dull skin, premature aging...

Recognizing dry skin

Mechanisms that make skin dry

There are a number of external and internal factors that can cause dry skin. Identifying them is the first step to restoring healthy skin and saying goodbye to rough skin.

Lack of daily moisturizing

It's worth pointing out that not drinking enough water is one of the main causes of dry skin. Low water intake leads to a lack of moisture and skin dehydration, making skin dull, rough and prone to flaking.

Environmental conditions

Among the most common external factors are environmental factors such as wind, intense hot or cold climates, or dry weather. These can strip the skin of its natural moisture, attack its protective barrier and cause it to dry out. Skin does not like temperature changes. Excessive central heating or air conditioning are additional risk factors. They can aggravate skin discomfort, especially in sensitive skin.

Using soap or other aggressive skin care products

The use of harsh soaps, detergents or cosmetics containing harsh chemicals can disrupt the natural balance of the skin's oils, reducing the effectiveness of its protective function. This is true for all skin types. It also applies to all types of products that come into contact with the outer layers of the skin, such as laundry detergents, cleaning products when not wearing gloves...

Skin aging

Skin aging may also play a role. Collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid are essential for maintaining skin structure and hydration. As the skin ages, it produces less of these elements, making it more prone to dryness. Combined with reduced sebum production, mature skin tends to be drier and duller. The skin becomes more permeable and sensitive to external aggressions.

Medical history: skin conditions or treatments

Certain medical conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, hypothyroidism or diabetes can contribute to dry skin by altering the normal function of the sweat and sebaceous glands. Similarly, certain medical treatments can alter the skin's water balance, reducing its role as a protective barrier. Don't hesitate to discuss this issue with your healthcare provider.

Mechanisms that make skin dry

How can I prevent and care for dry skin?

There are a number of steps you can take to prevent your skin from drying out. For more comprehensive advice, read our article on how to care for dry skin.

Maintain a good level of hydration

The use of appropriate moisturizers is essential to maintain a good level of hydration in the upper layer of the epidermis. Look for a moisturizer that contains ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin or ceramides for a good water balance. A moisturizer with a rich, whipped cream texture such as The Cream by Beau Domaine can be used as a day or night cream as part of your daily skin care routine.

Make sure the humidity level in your home is appropriate. If the air is too dry, especially during the winter months, don't hesitate to invest in a humidifier.

Preserve the skin's protective layer

Avoid hot water

Avoid hot showers and hot baths, and in general, avoid prolonged exposure to hot or warm water to avoid drying out the skin. When cleansing the face, be sure to use a toner or lotion on moist skin to limit the damage caused by limescale, especially if the water you use is hard.

Avoid aggressive products

No matter your skin type, opt for a gentle cleanser. A cleanser such as The Cleansing Emulsion by Beau Domaine will clean your skin while leaving it hydrated. Avoid products that contain sulfated surfactants, which can strip your skin of its lipids and alter the hydrolipidic film on its surface.

Although exfoliation is good for removing dead skin cells, do not overdo it to avoid any type of skin irritation.

Repairing the Skin Barrier

Using products that help repair the skin barrier can be beneficial for long-term skin health. Look for products that contain niacinamide or fatty acids.

Protecting skin from external aggressors

In extreme weather conditions, it's a good idea to protect your skin with appropriate clothing and sunscreen. Adding a humidifier to your indoor environment can help maintain adequate humidity levels in the air to prevent skin dryness.

Fight dehydration from within

Drinking plenty of water is crucial to keeping your skin hydrated from the inside out. Be sure to drink at least 1.5 liters of water per day. A diet rich in essential fatty acids, vitamins, and antioxidants can also help keep your skin healthy. Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fatty fish, for example) will also be your allies in protecting the skin from external aggressors.

In conclusion, dry skin can be caused by a variety of factors, but with the right care, proper hydration and healthy lifestyle habits, it's possible to improve skin condition and regain optimal skin comfort. As always, paying attention to your skin's specific needs and taking regular care of it is essential to maintaining its health and beauty.

How can I prevent and care for dry skin?