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Determining your skin type: dry skin

What to avoid, and what's good for you.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Sep 28, 2023 • 3 min read
Medically reviewed by Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Sep 28, 2023 • 3 min read
Medically reviewed by Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

In this article

Is your skin dry as a desert day? Sick of hiding flaky patches under makeup? You’re not alone. Dry skin happens to people of all ages. It’s irritating and painful, but we’ve compiled a dry skin watch list that lists the common causes — and how to prevent them!

What’s a "normal" skin type?

To understand dry skin, let’s first dive into what makes “normal” skin soft, pliable, and pleasant to touch. The answer is a combination of water content and fat. Normal skin contains a healthy amount of both.

Curology’s cleanser and moisturizer are designed to work well for dry skin: the cleanser helps maintain your skin’s natural moisture barrier, and the moisturizer locks in that moisture while keeping your skin’s hydration levels balanced over time!

The most common culprits of dry skin reduce water content, lipid content (the building blocks of fat), or both.

What causes dry skin?

To understand dry skin, let’s first dive into what makes healthy skin: a combination of water content and fat. Normal skin contains a healthy amount of both. The most common culprits of dry skin include reduced water content, lipid content (the building blocks of fat), or both.

Some people simply have dry skin, possibly due to genetics. Sometimes, dry skin can be caused by external factors, such as the products you’re using — ingredients like alcohol can dry out your skin, so check the ingredients list of any product you’re using. If you’ve ruled that out already, it might be time for a checkup with your local doctor.

Possible health-related causes of dry skin include:

  • Dehydration

  • Skin conditions such as eczema

  • Nutritional deficiency (especially zinc and essential fatty acids)

  • Certain medications, especially isotretinoin (Accutane) and diuretics

  • Hypothyroidism

  • Inherited and acquired forms of ichthyosis

If your chronically dry skin hasn’t been responding to the usual dry skin remedies, such as drinking enough water every day, you might want to talk to your primary care doctor and see what they think. Dry skin could be a side effect of a medication you’re taking, or it could be due to a nutritional deficiency. Take into consideration that dry skin incidence increases with age. As we age, the sebaceous glands (aka oil-producers in the skin) naturally slow down production too.

Meanwhile, here are the best things you can do to care for dry skin.

  1. Make sure you’re drinking enough water. It might help to reduce or avoid dehydrating drinks such as caffeinated beverages and alcohol, too.

2. Moisturize liberally. Find a moisturizing product that both moisturizes and keeps moisture locked in! Apply it as needed in the morning and at night.

Woman applying Curology moisturizer to skin

Look out for non-comedogenic face oils and moisturizers with ceramides. Curology has a creamy rich moisturizer designed by dermatologists to replenish dry skin with 6 deeply hydrating ingredients. Your skin will stay soft and protected all day (or night) long, thanks to 6 hydrating ingredients that smooth tiny cracks, add moisture, and keep that moisture locked in.

  • Hyaluronic acid: adds moisture to your skin by binding water from the environment. The secret to plump, hydrated, and youthful-looking skin (and can help with the appearance of wrinkles).

  • Glycerin: hydrates, softens, and protects skin.

  • Aloe: soothes and deeply moisturizes. Responsible for that glides-on-smooth feeling.

  • Shea butter: fills tiny cracks in the skin, making your skin feel soft (and the moisturizer feel creamy).

  • Squalane: a natural plant-based antioxidant that fights wrinkle-forming free radicals. It boosts other ingredients by helping them absorb better

  • Allantoin: a protective powerhouse that forms a barrier around skin to keep moisture locked in. Keeps you hydrated from wind, dry air, and injuries.

There are supplements you can take and foods you can eat to help replenish essential fatty acids and other nutrients your body might be lacking. But remember, it’s always recommended to check with your doctor before you begin taking a new dietary supplement.

Whatever’s drying you out—whether your skin is dry by default, dried out by active ingredients that treat acne or signs of aging, or just dehydrated from cold/dry weather—our rich moisturizer is the perfect companion to your custom Curology cream. Get it in a package deal when you subscribe to the 3-piece set!

The dry skin watch list

drySkin2 guides skin-type dry-skin (1)

Acne skincare for dry skin


The big question: does dry skin cause acne?

While dry skin doesn’t directly cause acne, it can lower defenses and make skin more vulnerable to breakouts. Dry skin may become more easily irritated, or more vulnerable to invading bacteria. Dry, dead skin cells might also clog your pores. In general, dry skin makes acne care more difficult — which is why it’s important to have a professional at hand. Tips for treating acne for dry skin:

  • Ease into your Curology. Apply every other day, then slowly increase the frequency

  • Wait 10–20 minutes after washing your face before applying medication. Applying it on damp skin means it gets absorbed more quickly, which can cause irritation. Skip the waiting once your skin adjusts.

  • Try applying moisturizer first, then your Curology (it works just as well!)

  • Dilute your Curology right before you apply it by mixing it with moisturizer in the palm of your hand

Curology Custom Formula Cleanser Moisturizer and Lip Balm Acne Body Wash

Customize skincare for dry skin

Dry skin is a battle that many of us fight. Remember you don’t fight alone! If you’re a Curology member, your provider is there to fight the fight along with you.

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

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curology bottle

If you're not a Curology member, Sign up for a free trial and get your 30-day supply of Custom Formula, plus any of our recommended products—just pay $4.95 (plus tax)* to cover shipping and handling. If Curology is right for you, we’ll prescribe you a Custom Formula with a mix of active ingredients like azelaic acid, niacinamide, and tretinoin, each chosen for your unique skin concerns. 

Go ahead and start your Curology free trial now

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Our policy on product links:Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Nicole Hangsterfer Avatar

Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C

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