How to Compile a Dry Skin Regimen

Dry skin is referred to as “alipidic” meaning that it does not produce adequate lipids. Lipids are the natural fatty substances made by your skin - in the epidermis (the outer layer); and as sebum in the sebaceous glands of the hair follicles. Together these lipids form a natural barrier which is responsible for some of the physical protection your skin provides. Your natural barrier protects you from infection from bacteria and viruses; irritation from harsh substances; and water loss through your skin’s surface (trans-epidermal water loss).

Note “dry skin” refers to your skin’s lack of lipids, “dehydrated skin” refers to skin lacking water (hydration). Although dry skin and dehydration often appear together, they are not the same thing.

This lack of natural lipids means dry skin does not have a very effective natural barrier. The consequences of a compromised barrier are usually increased sensitivity and difficulty maintaining an adequate level of hydration in your skin. In addition, dry and dehydrated skin lacks “plumpness” and may line and wrinkle more easily. Because dehydration compromises cellular function in all body tissue, dry skin is also more at risk of low-level inflammation than oily skin.


You may have a dry skin-type because you inherited it, or you may have a dry skin condition because of seasonal climate changes or aging. Either way, advice for the care of your skin will be the same.

Dry skin conditions may be caused by;

  • Over-stripping of skin during cleansing
  • Seasonal changes - exposure to very cold and very warm temperatures creates an imbalance in your skin, as can air-condition and central heating
  • Age or hormonal change that results in slower cellular turnover will mean slower production of the intercellular lipids made in the epidermis
  • Stress, poor health or medicinal side-effects


For dry skin, the goal of your regimen is to patch your compromised barrier and then sustain it so that hydration levels can be improved

  • Emollients such as Wheat Germ Glycerides and Dimethicone are great ingredients for dry skin because they can effectively supplement your natural barrier function. They provide a temporary, breathable, protective film to lock in moisture and facilitate your skin’s repair of its own intercellular lipids
  • Humectants (water-binding agents) such as Glycerin, Panthenol and Sodium Hyaluronate are also vital to boost hydration levels, restoring proper cellular functions and plumping your skin’s surface
  • Because of increased sensitivity, soothing ingredients like Green or White Tea, Sea Whip, or Licorice Root extracts will help with tolerance and avoid inflammation
  • And because dry skin may not protect itself well, natural antioxidant and antibacterial plant extracts will fight free radicals and keep bacteria at bay


You will need to avoid stripping precious lipids from your face, so most gel-based foaming cleansers would not usually be beneficial. A gentle, soap-free lotion cleanser to lift dirt and dead skin cells, while maintaining and supplementing lipids would usually be better. You might find that cleansing at night and just rinsing with cool water in the morning suits your skin best; you will have to experiment. (Note: cleansing with hot water is known to irritate dry skin).


A gentle exfoliator suitable for dry skin can be beneficial. This is because exfoliation increases cellular turnover and production of intercellular lipids. Granular exfoliators with sharp particles such as ground seeds or shells can irritate dry skin. Smooth, round microbeadlets such as Hydrogenated Jojoba Oil are more gentle. You may find that all exfoliators irritate your skin, or that using a gentle exfoliator once or twice a week does reduce dryness effectively. What works well for your skin is the only thing that matters


Because of a masque’s ability to infuse nutrients into skin, it can be a very beneficial step for dry skin. Intensive moisturizing masques can provide water, humectants and emollients, with soothing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory plant and mineral extracts to calm and cool your skin. The masque should be applied directly after exfoliation to lock in water and boost penetration of performance ingredients.


Astringent toners should be avoided because they strip lipids and discourage sebum production. But a hydrating toner with soothing anti-inflammatory ingredients may be highly beneficial for dry and dehydrated skin.


A compromised barrier function and dehydration do not foster efficient cellular function, so those with dry skin stand to gain more than most from serums. Dry skin is often thinner than oily skin and provides reduced protection. Protective, broad-spectrum antioxidants and soothing anti-inflammatory ingredients are a great start. Ingredients to reduce the increased aging burden on dry skin might include Vitamins A, C & E to nourish, energize, moisturize, boost Collagen and Elastin production and promote your skin’s cellular health.


The skin around your eyes ages faster than the rest of your face. It is essential for all skin-types to start caring for their eyes early to avoid premature skin aging. Modern treatments can help to reduce the appearance of symptoms, and targeted peptides can help to restore Collagen and Elastin. But we do advise against ignoring what your body is telling you with these symptoms, and making sure you get adequate rest.


The most obvious step for dry skin is moisturizing. An emollient-rich creme helps to preserve hydration within the epidermis, keeping your skin soft and supple. But a good moisturizer for dry skin should also contain humectants to bind water to the surface.

Dry skin which is not consistently moisturized can become flaky or cracked, making it prone to irritation and open to infection. Consistently supplementing your barrier with an appropriate moisturizer is actually more important than having a really heavy moisturizer. Your aim should be to always maintain your barrier above the point where sensitivity and dehydration become an issue.


Daily use of broad-spectrum sunscreen is a must for everyone - especially those with dry skin. Remember that up to 90% of extrinsic damage is caused by UV rays and that dry skin tends to age faster than other skin-types.


In the event your skin shows signs of sensitivity; like stinging during application of specific products, itchiness or flaky skin, do not ignore these symptoms.

Avoid ingredients that can aggravate the skin, such as synthetic fragrances and colorants, formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, solvent alcohols that can strip barrier lipids, and harsh surfactants (oil-stripping agents) like Sodium Laureth Sulfate or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. Neglecting skin sensitivity can have severe consequences, such as the development of Chronic Inflammation - a chain of biochemical reactions that accelerate skin-aging processes.


Stay hydrated on the inside: drinking plenty of water won't hydrate your skin directly, but it will keep you healthy, facilitating improved enzyme activity and cell function throughout your body

  • Cool water for cleansing: as hot water can irritate and further dry out your skin, perform your daily skincare regimen with lukewarm or cool water for cleansing and rinsing
  • Don’t peel flaky skin: this will only make it worse. Your fingers contain many hidden bacteria and when your barrier function is impaired, it is easy for these pathogens to get past your skin’s defences and cause infection and inflammation
  • Hot and cold: try to avoid over-heating or cooling your environment especially in conjunction with reduced humidity


THE TEMPTRESS - Vitamin Lotion Cleanser
THE ALCHEMIST - Pomegranate Enzyme Exfoliator
THE TEMPEST - Antioxidant Toner / Mist
THE SHEPHERD - Balancing Moisturizer


About Us
Our Formulation Philosophy
Our Ingredient Glossary

What Do Antioxidants Do?
How is Inflammation Related to Aging?

How to Assess Your Skin-Type
How Products Combine in a Regimen 
How to Compile an Oily Skin Regimen

The Skincare Blog