3 Skin-Quenching Ingredients All Dry Skin Is Begging For (All Science-Backed!)
All dry skin boils down to a compromised skin barrier. This is true of chronically dehydrated skin, dryness from seasonal changes, or parched patches from changes to your skin care routine (ahem, using a harsh exfoliant). When the skin barrier function is weakened, the skin isn't as able to trap and hold water. This results in a phenomenon called transepidermal water loss1, where water from the dermis evaporates into the air around you.
To heal dry skin, you must first strengthen the skin barrier. How, you might ask? Well, look for ingredients that exist in the moisture barrier to begin with, such as the below.
Fatty acids are already present in the skin and are one of the most important parts of the stratum corneum2. There are many kinds of fatty acids, from essential fatty acids (like omega-3 and -6) to ceramides (which are intercellular lipids), and they all work together to create a robust moisture barrier that traps water in the dermis.
Humectants pull water into the skin. You might hear "water-loving" or "hydrophilic" tossed around when discussing this ingredient category, and that's because humectants actually bond to water—and this bond allows the ingredients to travel with water as it gets absorbed into the skin cells.
It's important to clarify that humectants are a class of ingredients, which include hyaluronic acid, glycerin, panthenol (vitamin B5), lactic acid, aloe vera, and a few other noteworthy hydrators. The skin makes its own humectants, including hyaluronic acid. But it's important to use them topically too (especially with age, as our supply declines as we get older).
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.