Whether your skin has always been on the dry side or arrived there after menopause, a parched complexion tends to age the fastest of all skin types (sigh). So your goal is to moisturize as much as possible, tricking your skin into feeling normal—and loading up on the age-defying treatments. Because your skin is moisture deprived, every product you choose should boast extra emollience.
THE DRY MINIMALIST
CLEANSE Use a cream-based, alcohol-free cleanser that leaves your face soft (so it’s clean but not squeakily so). USE AM AND PM.
HYDRATE David Colbert, MD, a New York dermatologist, recommends hyperboosting hydration by layering on two moisturizing products during the day: a soothing facial oil or serum, topped by a rich cream. In the cream, look for shea butter, glycerin or ceramides, all of which help lock in the oil or serum. USE AM AND PM (or as outlined in the “treat” section).
PROTECT Because your skin’s on the fast track to fine lines (the upside: You don’t break out much anymore!), it is crucial that you slather on SPF. Apply it after your cream and aim for one that boasts some moisturizing properties (in your case, you can’t overdo the hydration thing). Ellen Marmur, MD, vice chair of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan, says dry types with a propensity for sensitivity may also want to opt for a physical mineral block (it usually contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) rather than a chemical one, because “dry skin is prone to tiny micro-cracks in its surface that can make chemical formulas sting.” USE AM ONLY.
TREAT When skin lacks moisture, you need to be careful using retinoids like Retin-A or over-the-counter retinol. Most dermatologists will green-light a mild retinol or prescription Renova or Refissa (which have moisturizing bases) for use three or four nights a week. But to be safe, before you smooth on a retinoid, apply whatever cream you’re using during the day to dilute the strength slightly. Then, on alternate nights, use just the cream. If you are extremely dry, you can also mix a dab of a moisturizing balm (think Aquaphor) into your moisturizer to ramp up results. USE PM ONLY.
If you’re willing to pull out all the stops—and be rewarded with faster, more dramatic results—follow the Dry Minimalist regimen, then incorporate as many of these extras as you like.
THE DRY MAXIMALIST
FAKE RADIANCE In the morning, smoothing on a hydrating primer (post-sunscreen) will fill in fine lines and help makeup slide over dry, flaky skin, notes Jaliman. USE AM ONLY.
SHED THE DEAD When it comes to extra exfoliation (to boost the results of your retinoid), most doctors say to steer clear of glycolic or salicylic acid, which can be too harsh for very dry skin. Instead, use either lactic acid or something with enzymes, both of which are less aggressive exfoliators but still get the job done. USE AS NEEDED.
DEEP-TREAT You will benefit from using a moisturizing mask weekly. Most of these give skin a shot of hyaluronic acid (which isn’t an exfoliating acid—it actually helps the skin absorb and hold moisture). USE AS NEEDED.
BABY YOUR EYES If the skin on your face is dry, the skin under your eyes is akin to the Sahara. Treat it to its own dose of extra moisture with a product that is creamy and boasts some skin-plumping benefits. USE AM AND PM.
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