When your skin is really dry—we’re talking flaky, fall-apart, Crypt-Keeper dry—you can’t just rely on your itty bitty tube of rose-and-happiness-scented lotion to fix your face overnight. Sure, it will temporarily hydrate your rough patches and disguise the flakes, but come morning, your face will head back to its sad, irritated state again. Yeah, we’ve been there. And it’s not totally your fault (a little bit your fault, but we won’t dwell), because to fix your dry skin, you need to have a multi-product approach with the proper concoction of ingredients, and blah, blah, blah, that sounds like a lot of work, right?
Wrong. We mean, unless you consider “a lot of work” being three or four products that you massage into your face each night to get glowing, beautiful skin in the morning. Such labor! But unfortunately, if you want to fix your skin incredibly quickly, you need to take the extra five minutes tonight to slather it with products that actually work, starting with a hydrating serum, then a rich moisturizer, then an occlusive moisturizer (don’t worry—we’ll explain down below), and finishing with a lightweight face oil to seal everything in. And no, your skin won’t immediately turn into a giant sheet of zits, as long as you apply thin, even layers, and wash it off in the morning.
So to get you started on your dewy-skin journey, we broke down each of the four steps for you, below, along with a few of our favorite product recommendations, so you have literally no excuse not to fix your flakes tonight. Scroll down to see our favorites, then get slathering!
STEP 1: HYDRATING SERUMS
Think of skin serums like primer for your face. They’re as lightweight as water, super concentrated, and the best of the best formulas are infused with fine-line-plumping hyaluronic acid and skin-barrier-strengthening ceramides that immediately sink into your skin and get to work. Just massage a few drops into your dry, cleansed skin, wait three or four minutes, then head onto step two—your moisturizer.
Skin Inc. Hyaluronic Acid Serum Long-Lasting Hydration, $45; at Sephora
First Aid Beauty
Laneige Water Bank Serum, $35; at Target
STEP 2: RICH MOISTURIZERS
No, we’re not talking about that cute, lightweight lotion that sits atop your vanity like a gorgeous beacon, but the dermatologist-approved skins-saviors that are filled with ceramides, which help repair your skin’s natural lipid barrier, and glycerin, which sucks water from the atmosphere and funnels it into your skin (yes, really). As soon as your serum dries, massage a dime-size ball of moisturizer into your skin, making sure to bring it down your neck and over your eyebrows.
Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream, $16; at Ulta
Eucerin Q10 Anti-Wrinkle Sensitive Skin Cream, $10; at Ulta
Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream, $13; at Walmart
STEP 3: THE OCCLUSIVES
Occlusive moisturizers are kind of a misnomer, since they don’t actually add any moisture to your skin—they just seal in all of your skin’s moisture while boosting the absorption rate of the products layered beneath it. Petroleum jelly is probably the most recognizable occlusive on the market, but if you feel weird about rubbing Vaseline on your face, try an occlusive that contains petrolatum or paraffin, two non-pore-clogging ingredients that lock moisture into your skin as you sleep. Just smooth a pea-size ball over your skin (occlusives melt down really quickly, so be careful not to apply too much) five minutes after your moisturizer.
EltaMD Moisturizer, $12; at EltaMD
Aquaphor Healing Ointment, $4.99; at Target
Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Multipurpose Ointment, $9; at Walgreens
STEP 4: FACIAL OILS
Yes, we know—the idea of rubbing oil on your face sounds like a cruel recipe for breakouts, but facial oils are actually lipophilic, meaning they combine really well with fats, so they can pass through the lipid layer of your skin more effectively than other moisturizing ingredient. And, when layered over serums, moisturizers, and occlusives, facial oils not only give your skin a deeper dose of hydration, but lock in the good-for-you ingredients of everything you’ve already applied. Wait at least five minutes—or, honestly, until right before bed—to massage a few drops of a lightweight facial over your face, then get ready to wake up with glowing, smooth, flake-free skin.
Lumene Bright Now Vitamin C Dry Skin Cocktail, $22.99; at Walgreens
Nuance Salma Hayek Nourish and Renew Glow Facial Oil, $21.99, at CVS
Nuance Salma Hayek
L'Oréal Paris Age Perfect Cell Renewal Facial Oil Light Serum, $24.99, at L'Oréal Paris