Dry skin doesn’t just look bad—it’s also uncomfortable. But here’s the tricky thing: Products that promise to give you a gorgeous glow could contain dehydrating ingredients, says Jamie Davis, M.D., a Minneapolis-based dermatologist. Here are five she says it’s key to avoid if you’re feeling parched.
While the ingredient has been championed across the board for their success in treating acne, wrinkles, and skin conditions like psoriasis and warts, Davis says that retinoids can be too harsh on dry skin. Irritation is a side-effect of the ingredient, so adding it on top of already parched skin can be a recipe for disaster.
2. Benzoyl Peroxide
Davis calls this “another major player” in the irritation game. While derms love the ingredient for treating acne, skin can have really negative reactions to it, including peeling, itching, irritation, and redness.
Davis says that though most products contain some sort of alcohol (it helps ingredients penetrate the skin), gels and lotions usually contain a higher concentration of it. To sober up your skin, Davis recommends sticking with thicker creams that don’t list alcohol until far down the ingredients list.
4. Salicylic Acid
While salicylic acid can be a good skin softener—it has exfoliating properties that can even treat dry skin when used correctly—buying it OTC and applying it to your skin can be dangerous if you’re on the dryer side. Want to incorporate the ingredient into your routine? Ask your derm what percentage is safe to use on your skin.
5. Fragrances and Preservatives
Davis says these are the leading cause of skin allergies. If fragrances and preservatives irritate your skin, they can turn your complexion into a dry, flaky mess. As an alternative to your sweet-smelling cream, try a fragrance- and preservative-free alternative, such as Avène Tolérance Extrême Cream ($36, Dermstore).
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