Dry Skin

5 Reasons Why Your Skin is so Dry

Are you concerned about your dry skin?

Do you suffer from dull, flaky patches?

Or maybe your skin is sensitive and inflamed,

Here at NC, we find that many skincare companies quickly dismiss dry skin.

Their blanket marketing approach is always the same.

Just slap on an emollient-rich moisturiser with occlusive goodies, and you’ll eliminate your dry skin woes.

If only life were as simple as smearing on a moisturiser, you’re good to go.

If you suffer from dry skin, you will appreciate it is so much more complex than that.

So keep on scrolling as we discuss what causes dry skin.

How to Recognise Dry Skin

If you have dry skin, we don’t need to tell you that it hardly produces any sebum (Oil).

It is characteristic of tiny pores because there is no oil to enlarge them or breed bacteria, and the good news is that you won’t be breaking out any time soon.

Phew, so blemish-free skin and tiny pores are not so bad after all? Well, keep scrolling.

Your skin relies on oil to lock moisture in; without this, your complexion can appear rough, patchy, and flaky, and fine lines can also appear more pronounced.

A dry skin type lacks water, which damages your moisture barrier; tiny, invisible cracks can appear and inflame your skin, sensitising it and making it seem even drier.

One significant cause of dry skin is impaired barrier function, and essential ingredients like ceramides, lipids, and cholesterol have become depleted.

This exposes your skin’s nerve endings and drys out surface cells; insufficient lipids between the skin cells allow ingredients to penetrate, which can cause inflammation.

This is why the ingredients you use for dry skin are essential to keep it supple, smooth, moisturised and healthy.

If you don’t repair this damage, it can lead to a breakdown in collagen and elastin, which keeps your skin plump, taut, and youthful.

What Causes Dry Skin

  • genetics
  • smoking
  • medication
  • poor lifestyle choices
  • overexposure to UV
  • drugs, both medicinal and recreational
  • lack of essential fatty acids
  • overuse of astringent products
  • an imbalance in the skin’s sebum
  • exposure to chemicals and pollutants
  • poor health, thyroid disease, and diabetes
  • overzealous exfoliation, which can cause tiny micro-tears
  • metabolic changes in the skin and hormonal imbalances such as pregnancy
  • low or high humidity levels and temperature can dry skin out, leading to dehydration
  • the hormone estrogen is another cause of dry skin; after menopause, the hormone decreases drying out skin

5 Reasons Why Your Skin is Dry

As we can see, dry skin is much more complicated than first expected because of several underlying conditions.

So, let’s take a deeper dive into what causes dry skin:

1. A Lack of Aquaporins

These proteins are found in cell membranes. They transport water and glycerine to the skin, enhancing trans-epidermal water permeability while preventing water loss.

So, essentially locking moisture into the tissues of your skin.

Research (1) has found that a lack of aquaporins in the stratum corneum (your outer layer of skin) can cause several problems,

  • delayed wound healing
  • a reduction in skin elasticity,
  • a reduction of glycerol in your skin’s outer layers,

All of which will cause your skin to become dry and flaky.

2. A Lack of Filaggrin

interestingly, scientific research (2) has found that a lack of protein filaggrin is one of the leading causes of dry skin.

We discuss this condition in detail in the article Ichthyosis Vulgaris; it’s a recommended read if you are a dry skin sufferer and brings you one step closer to understanding how to treat your dry skin.

3. Your Natural Moisturising Factor (NMF)

Your NMF is also derived from filaggrin; its role is to help your stratum corneum maintain its moisture levels, keeping your skin supple.

If your skin lacks filaggrin, the NMF fails to do its job correctly, especially in arid environments, which has a knock-on effect, increasing dryness and dehydration in your skin.

4. A lack of hydrating Hyaluronic Acid 

Hyaluronic acid is an essential component of your skin that is depleted with age, and it can also reduce your skin’s water-holding capacities.

This is why it is essential to look for formulas that contain high molecular weight hyaluronic acid, such as our H20 Skin shot.

Topical application helps keep the outer layers of our skin nicely hydrated, binding that all-important moisture to our skin tissues.

5. Impaired Cellular Turnover

When looking at what causes dry skin, impaired cellular turnover should not be overlooked as this can interfere with desquamation, the way your skin naturally exfoliates.

As we age, our skin’s regular enzymatic activity begins to slow down. This prevents the corneocyte cells from separating during this natural desquamation process, causing the skin cells to bind together and produce that classic scaly skin.

This is an article on xerosis cutis, an abnormally dry skin condition.

How to Repair Dry Skin?

  • avoid foaming cleansers. They are too harsh and will strip the water out of your skin after washing
  • . Perform your skin care routine quickly, as soon as you have cleansed, and apply a toner dampener on the skin. Then layer with your moisturiser; this guarantees that your skin feels soft and stays protected
  • never skip your nightly routine: At night, your skin is at rest; this is when the skin’s permeability is at its highest, thus allowing the active ingredients to absorb deeply
  • for extra hydration, apply a few drops of a humectant based serum, let it sinks in then apply your moisturiser, to lock them against your skin
  • never over-exfoliate, if you have dry, flaky skin it is an important step not to miss, but keep it gentle; otherwise you will cause tiny micro-tears in the skin which can damage the barrier function

To Conclude. The naked truth

As a skincare specialist, I am always interested to see how much dry skin is misunderstood within the industry; I find it often takes backstage compared to other skin types.

Yet you can’t have a blanket approach to treating dry skin conditions; a single moisturiser will not give your skin enough to bring it back into balance.

You need to layer your skin with well-thought-out products that use barrier-repairing oils, moisturisers, and balms rich in skin-identical ingredients like ceramides and lipids to begin repairing your skin truly,

This research (3) examines how these ingredients affect skin health and repair the protective barrier function.

These different treatments, layered at different times, target the many underlying conditions that cause your skin to become dry.

Here at the Naked Chemist, we talk to your skin, and our dry skin kit has been specifically formulated with this complex skin type in mind that will bring you instant relief. Check out the kit here.

So, if you suffer from dry skin, it is essential to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that you can reverse many of the underlying conditions that may be causing your skin to dry out.

Become your label detective and understand what causes dry skin and the many ingredients you can use to repair and rebuild your barrier function.

Ensure you are using a well-formulated product containing essential skin-identical ingredients; your skin will soon have that moisturised, dewy glow.


  1. In vivo studies of aquaporins 3 and 10 in human stratum corneum
  2. Filaggrin in the frontline: role in skin barrier function and disease

  3. The skin barrier in a healthy and diseased state

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