Are you wondering, “Why is my skin so dry even when I moisturize?” Learn what causes dry skin after applying moisturizer and what you can do to hydrate it.

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Why Is My Skin So Dry Even When I Moisturize?

03/10/20238 min read

You know your skin needs moisture to thrive, so you regularly apply moisturizer. But no matter how often you rub it on, you frequently ask yourself, "Why is my skin so dry even when I moisturize?"

The answer isn't as cut and dry as it may seem. In fact, several potential culprits can lead to chronically dry skin. Let's look into some of the most common reasons your skin continuously craves moisture and then figure out how to get it the nourishment it needs.

Table Of Contents

Why Is My Skin So Dry Even When I Moisturize?

Dry, chapped hand

Moisturizers help hydrate your skin. But, unfortunately, not all moisturizers are designed for extremely dry skin. If you notice any of these symptoms even after applying a lotion or cream, it's a good indicator that your current product isn't cutting it:

While switching moisturizers might be vital to hydrating your skin (we'll chat about what ingredients to look for later on), there's a good chance that something else is contributing to your dry skin.

The following factors can all play a part in dehydrated skin, even when you're moisturizing like a champ.

Frequent Washing And Scrubbing

Washing your hands is essential to avoid germs, especially during cold and flu season. But if you're cleansing your skin too often or using harsh soap, it could strip away your skin's natural oils and leave it thirsty for more.

Since not washing your hands isn’t the best option, here are some ways you can try to minimize the damage:

  • Use a gentle cleanser (Since you don't have any control over what's inside the pumps in public restrooms, consider bringing along a small bottle of your own)
  • Use warm water instead of hot
  • Pat your hands dry instead of rubbing them with a rough paper towel
  • Immediately apply a thick, non-greasy moisturizer

Exposure To Irritants

It's not just harsh soap that can irritate your skin and cause it to dry out. The world is full of irritants that could be causing problems.

Here are a few things that can lead to dry skin:

  • Swimming often in chlorine-treated water
  • Exposure to smoke
  • Wearing synthetic, non-breathable material, such as polyester
  • Fragrances in your laundry soap
  • Household cleaners with harsh chemicals

If any of these items sound familiar, you could be unknowingly causing your skin to become dry.

To combat this, try to figure out precisely what irritates your skin. Keeping a skin journal can help with this part.

Once you’ve identified the problem, take measures to avoid it. For example, you may need to switch to a different brand of detergent, replace a few articles of clothing, or learn to harness the cleansing power of nature-derived products.

Poor Shower Habits

Dry, chapped hand

Long, hot showers can feel oh-so-good after a long day. But that doesn’t mean it’s doing your skin any favors. Hot water strips the natural oils from the surface of your skin, leaving it exposed and vulnerable to moisture loss.

To keep your skin hydrated in the shower, try:

  • Lowering the water temperature
  • Limiting your shower time (keep it to 15 minutes or less)
  • Using a gentle cleanser designed for dry skin
  • Patting yourself dry with a soft towel
  • Applying moisturizer while your skin is still damp


Hydrated skin starts from the inside out. If you're not drinking enough water, your skin could suffer. Being dehydrated can make it difficult for your body to produce the natural oils your skin needs to stay moist.

Make sure you're getting plenty of fluids, particularly if you exercise often or live in hot climates. You should aim for 8-10 glasses of water daily to help keep your skin (and the rest of you) in tip-top shape.

Underlying Health Conditions

Sometimes, dry skin is more than just dry skin. Certain health conditions can cause this problem. Here are a few examples:

If you've been dealing with dry skin for a long time and nothing you do seems to help, it's time to talk with a doctor. They can do a thorough examination and pinpoint any underlying health concerns that could be contributing to your discomfort.


Do you know what's listed as a side-effect on your current medications? You might be surprised to learn that some prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs can cause dry skin.

Common examples include:

  • Diuretics (water pills)
  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • Blood pressure medication
  • Statins (to lower cholesterol)
  • Antihistamines (for allergies)
  • Acne medicines with potent drying agents

If you're taking any of these and your skin is unusually dry, it's important to mention it to your doctor. They may be able to adjust your dose or suggest an alternative.


Sometimes, your dry skin is just something you inherited. Like the color of your eyes or the curl of your hair, you could have been blessed (or cursed) with dry skin. If your parents or siblings also suffer from dry skin, genetics could be to blame.

If you believe that's the case, don't give up hope just yet! You can still do plenty of things to help keep your skin moisturized and glowing.

How To Moisturize Dry Skin

Dry, chapped hand

Now that you understand what could be causing you to ask, “Why is my skin so dry even when I moisturize?” let's look at some specific steps you can take to keep your skin hydrated.

Read Labels Carefully

Before putting anything on your skin, review the list of ingredients on the label. Many skincare products contain things that can dry out your skin, such as fragrances, salicylic acid, alcohol, or parabens.

If products in your skincare routine are problematic, consider switching to a product specifically for dry skin. Many include cocoa or shea butter, almond oil, and glycolic acid.

Making this switch can make a dramatic difference in your skin's overall condition.

Check The Viscosity

Viscosity may sound like a throwback to your high school science class, but it just refers to how thick a product is. And when it comes to moisturizers, the thicker, the better.

Thinner lotions contain a lot of water. They tend to evaporate faster, so you won't get long-lasting hydration. Thicker moisturizing creams are more likely to stay on and penetrate the surface of your skin. This means they provide longer-lasting hydration.

Apply Frequently

You should apply moisturizer at least twice a day — and more often if you're in a dry environment or out in frigid temperatures. The frequent application ensures your skin gets all the hydration it needs to look its best.

If you travel a lot, finding small, travel-friendly products to keep in your bag is essential. That way, you can stay on top of hydration no matter where life takes you. If your dry skin is caused by eczema, our Eczema Daily Calming Cream: On-the-Go is an excellent choice.

Supplement With A Serum

Don’t forget about serums if extra dry skin is a problem for you. These concentrated formulas are even more moisturizing than regular lotions or creams. They can help repair and protect your skin from further damage.

Look for one designed for dry skin. It should contain powerfully hydrating ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and collagen, to deliver moisture right where it's most needed.

Give It Time

Unfortunately, you can't heal dry skin overnight. Restoring moisture takes time and patience, so don't give up on these changes. Instead, be consistent. You'll eventually see the results you want.

Seek Professional Help

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to improve your skin’s condition on your own, you may need additional help. In that case, seek a skincare professional for advice and treatment options.

They can rule out any underlying health conditions and provide personalized recommendations to help you get your skin back on track.

Smooth, Hydrated Skin

Woman with smooth, hydrated skin

The tips above can help you switch your question from, “Why is my skin so dry even when I moisturize?” to “Can you believe how much softer my skin is these days?” With the right products and some extra effort in the hydration department, you'll soon get there.

In the meantime, keep reading the Bodewell blog for tips on achieving more better skin days. And if your dry skin is from eczema, try our Eczema Daily Calming Cream. It delivers deep hydration without a greasy feeling.

Here’s to smoother, softer skin!


American Academy of Dermatology Association
American Osteopathic College of Dermatology
National Library of Medicine

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