What are the Causes of Dry, Flaky Skin on Your Face?








By Britton Strickland, Ph.D.,
OneSkin Reference Lab

NOV 10, 2022


As the seasons change and the climate becomes colder and drier in many areas, it’s not uncommon to experience dry, flaky skin on your face and neck. These dry patches can be uncomfortable and sometimes unsightly, but a proper skincare routine can help keep your stressed skin looking smoother and fresher. This blog will discuss the causes of dry, flaky facial skin and how to soothe and prevent it.

Why is my skin dry and flaky on my face?

The answer to “Why is my skin peeling?” is sometimes extremely dry skin. Xerosis cutis–or “dry skin”–affects most individuals worldwide at one point or another and can result in rough, flaky, and itchy skin across the body. Dry flaky skin on the face indicates inadequate moisture retention and a compromised skin barrier. When the skin is dry, the activity of enzymes that produce moisturizing factors within the skin is reduced, exacerbating the issue.1

There are several external and internal factors that can trigger dry skin patches. The two most common causes in most individuals are changes in temperature and humidity in the environment, especially during the winter months in far-equatorial countries. Some individuals are more prone to dry facial skin, partly due to skin conditions and the low production of natural oils in the skin called sebum. Impaired production of facial sebum can compromise the skin barrier, reduce moisture retention, and lead to flaky, itchy skin. This weakened barrier also puts the skin at risk for infection and increased sensitivity to other environmental irritants, the effects of which will persist until properly treated.

What are the common causes of dry flaky facial skin?


Environment

Cold, dry air and exposure to sun and wind can strip away the essential oils in the skin needed to maintain tissue homeostasis.2


Harsh soaps and products

These can include alkaline soaps, detergents, and alcohols found in facial cleansers, toners, laundry products, and other cosmetics.


Underlying disease

These include conditions such as inflammatory skin disorders (allergies, eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis), metabolic disorders (diabetes, hyperthyroidism), hormonal changes (pregnancy, menopause), and those receiving certain medical treatments.3


Medications

Diuretics, beta-blockers, contraceptives, retinoids, long-term use of topical steroids, lipid-lowering agents, and radiation therapy.3


Age

As our skin ages, it may have reduced functional capacity, lower lipid production, and compromised integrity due to lower collagen levels.4 Additionally, aging individuals can have increased use of diuretics and similar medications and may overuse heaters or air conditioners, which can dry the skin. That’s why it’s important for those experiencing dry skin in middle and older ages to properly moisturize and maintain skin health.


Lifestyle

Those spending more time outdoors for occupational and leisurely activities are more prone to dry skin due to exposure to varying environmental elements. Stress can also provoke endocrine and immune-mediated tissue remodeling in the skin, which can alter the skin barrier.5 Other causes that aren't so common:
  • Dehydration: Dehydrated skin often exhibits the same symptoms as dry flaky skin. Aside from experiencing dryness, you'll know you're dehydrated when they manifest with other symptoms of dehydration, such as dark urine, thirst, and tiredness.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis: One of the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis is dryness but usually on the scalp.
Unlock the secret to healthy skin. Learn more!

How do I get rid of dry flaky skin on my face?

There are many treatments, methods, and products that can be used to fight against the development and persistence of dry facial skin.


Moisturize and cleanse dry skin patches

Regularly applying a good moisturizer containing rehydrating and lipid-replenishing components can help promote and retain moisture.6 These include hyaluronic acids, niacinamide, squalane, and other natural, fragrance-free ingredients. Cleansing the skin with lukewarm water and a gentle facial cleanser can ensure the removal of dead skin cells that can compromise the facial skin barrier.


Nutrition

Vitamin and mineral deficiency can significantly alter the skin tissue. Ensure proper levels of vitamins A & D, niacin, zinc, and iron, which can contribute to moisture retention in the skin.7


Men with facial hair

It’s important to ensure proper moisture and care underneath facial hair. Appropriate skin preparation and post-shaving care products should always be used before and after shaving.


Plug in that humidifier!

Supplementation of moisture to the air, especially in your bedroom while you sleep, can be a great way to effectively maintain moisture in your skin, particularly in climates that require heaters during the colder seasons.8


Drink your water and maintain your mental health

Keep your skin, mind, and body fresh and well with plenty of water and wellness practices.


Use topical products that enhance barrier function

Integrating topical skin care products that are proven to improve skin barrier function is the best way to enable your skin’s moisture retention capability. Consider using products such as OneSkin’s Topical Supplements, which are powered by the OS-01 peptide scientifically proven to increase skin’s epidermal thickness and barrier function.* The OS-01 peptide also enhances the activity of genes associated with collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid production.* In a 12-week clinical study, participants using OneSkin’s OS-01 FACE Topical Supplement experienced a 15% improvement in barrier function on average.9 *Shown in lab-grown ex-vivo human skin models

What to avoid when your skin is dry and flaky


Avoid hot showers and high-heat environments

Exposure to hot water can physically strip away essential oils in the skin and induce skin irritation. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends limiting showers and baths to 5-10 min to help heal dry skin.10


Fragrances

Cosmetics and laundry detergents with fragrances can irritate the skin, particularly those with preexisting skin conditions. Utilize fragrance-free moisturizers, cleansers, and laundry products to avoid irritation.


Use gentle but effective skincare products

Gentle cleansers and moisturizers can help treat and prevent dry facial skin.

Tips for relieving dry skin

If you have a skin concern, consult with your licensed dermatologist to assess any skin conditions that may contribute to dry skin.

Step up your skincare regimen with OneSkin’s line of topical skin health products. OneSkin’s Topical Supplements–OS-01 FACE and OS-01 BODY–are powered by the OS-01 peptide, which is scientifically proven to enable skin hydration by:
  • Increasing the activity of a key gene associated with hyaluronic acid production*
  • Increasing skin’s epidermal thickness*
  • Aiding in cellular repair pathways*
*Shown in lab-grown ex vivo human 3D skin models


Sources

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30998081/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26449379/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK565884/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21146730/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26449379/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31738016/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23112909/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30620080/
  9. https://www.oneskin.co/blogs/reference-lab/oneskin-s-12-week-clinical-study-to-validate-the-effects-of-os-01-face
  10. https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-basics/dry/dermatologists-tips-relieve-dry-skin

Reviewed by Alessandra Zonari, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) and Co-Founder of OneSkin

Alessandra earned her Master’s degree in stem cell biology, and her PhD in skin regeneration and tissue engineering at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil in collaboration with the 3B’s Research Group in Portugal. Alessandra did a second post-doctoral at the University of Coimbra in Portugal. She is a co-inventor of three patents and has published 20 peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals.

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