Dry skin

Why do i have dry patches after applying moisturiser?

I am not clear whether you applied a moisturiser because your skin was already dry or that the product you have been using has caused this.

A cream doesn’t need to contain especially drying ingredients like alcohol or sulphates for your skin to become dry, although they certainly can make it worse. The problem with many ingredients expected to remedy dryness is that they must be carefully formulated to be effective.

There are simple remedies, like olive oil. If you rub some on your skin and then wash it off, your face should feel better moisturised. The effect won’t last long and it isn’t going to improve the skin condition long-term, but it will add lipids to the skin for a while.


Similarly, it is theoretically a reasonable remedy to add ceramides to skin with dry areas. Healthy skin contains approximately 15% ceramides, if these are depleted, skin will probably look dry. But there are many ceramides and they are not all made equal! Not all are absorbed into the skin to the same extent or are effective. Some are expensive, so they are used in amounts too small to really help. But it may not be lipids that you need, skin can look dry due to a lack of lipids and/or a lack of water.


You say your cream also contains hyaluronic acid and this is well known to be able to hold onto water, so I can see why you choose it. But it won’t necessarily rehydrate skin thoroughly. It is usually a large molecule and this makes it difficult to get it into the skin; it tends to stay on the surface. This is ok in itself; some moisture is needed on the surface. But to keep skin thoroughly hydrated, this either needs to be a small molecule (the salt form of hyaluronic acid is small - sodium hyaluronate) or the formulator must add another ingredient that can help draw it down deeper into the skin. (Urea is one that can do this). Glycerine is a very good humectant that is often over-looked as it’s not new and exciting (!) but it is very effective, so look for that, or sorbitol, in a cream. Also look for a generous amount of fruit, seed and nut oils: avocado, hemp seed, pomegranate, rosehip, sweet almond, raspberry seed, argan, chia seed, marula and olive oil - I use all of these and would recommend them for this.

Balancing Lipids and Water

You may need oil more than water, or visa vera, you may need both, or you may be depleted in a vitamin or mineral that is affecting the function of your skin. Your skin could be turning over more slowly and unevenly, so making areas appear dry. Skin is wonderfully clever, but that makes it difficult to get a comprehensive understanding of how it works and what might help it.

First things first - make sure your diet is providing what you need: try to get a good supply of vitamin A, B, C, D and E from the foods you eat. If your diet is good and you drink enough water, the following may help.

Vitamin A

Retinoic acid (skin turns vitamin A into this) This has been demonstrated to help skin when applied topically. Especially as you have dry patches of skin, using this can improve the texture and exfoliate these areas. It can increase the resilience of skin and collagen gene expression. Having said this, it may sound counter-intuitive as it can also be drying, but still be part of the answer - I said it was a bit complicated…

B Vitamins

Vitamin B3, niacinamide can help even out areas of rough and discoloured skin and vitamin B5 - panthenol (pantothenic acid) is used to help reduce dryness and inflammation.


A really good antioxidant is also useful, and there are many to choose from. Most flower extracts and hydrosols have good antioxidant properties - look for rose, honeysuckle, green tea, algae, evening primrose and calendula - calendula has been shown to improve the healing time of leg ulcers and is used to improve general skin healing - these dry patches may be inflammation, in which case it could be a suitable choice.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a well known antioxidant, and properly formulated, preferably with folic acid and vitamin E, you could see some improvement. Like the other antioxidants it is used to readdress oxidative damage (caused by free-radicals which appear to influence skin deterioration). It may also help stimulate collage production and the skin’s elasticity. It is particularly difficult to get vitamin C reliably into the skin. However there are studies to show it has improved moisture, for a few hours at least.

The Ingredients’ List

As with most things, it is worth deciding what you really need and then searching through the ingredients, rather than just taking what their advertising says. There are also ingredients you should try to avoid, and you rightly detected some you don’t want to find. The other important factor is the amount of the good stuff actually in there- it needs to be listed fairly high up on the ingredients’ list to be there in any meaningful amounts - a tiny drop of a beautiful oil isn’t going to help much.


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