How to Take Care of Dry Skin for Women Over 40


As we age, our skin loses moisture and elasticity, leading to dryness, fine lines, and dullness. While genetics do play a role, small daily changes to your skincare routine and lifestyle can make a monumental difference in combating lackluster winter skin. Follow this comprehensive guide on understanding the root causes of dryness and learn simple, targeted tips to restore comfort, softness, and glow.

From gentle cleansers that won’t strip skin to rich balms packed with ceramides, plenty of over the counter options replenish aging skin. Additionally, using lukewarm water, adding moisture-binding humectants to your diet, and protecting skin from harsh weather prevents further drying. 

With nurturing adjustments to your daily regimen, it’s possible to have supple, nourished skin at any age. This guide details impactful everyday habits for renewed moisture and brightness. Follow along to discover the ideal winter skin care regimen.




. Cleanse gently with targeted formulations

Opt for gentle, creamy cleansers designed specifically for dry, aging skin. Avoid foaming cleansers as they can disrupt skin’s moisture barrier. The ideal formula will hydrate as it cleanses. Key ingredients to look for include:

  • Ceramides: Fill in cracks in the skin barrier and seal in moisture
  • Hyaluronic acid: A powerhouse humectant that holds 1000x its weight in water
  • Glycerin: Draws moisture from the air into skin’s outer layer

Gently massage into damp skin for 30 seconds before rinsing. Pat dry with a soft towel.

Expert Tip
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Clare Clarke

Ceramides are lipids that help form the skin’s barrier and help skin retain moisture. Glycerin is a humectant, meaning it draws water from the air into the skin’s outer layer. Hyaluronic acid can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water, making it an excellent ingredient for delivering deep hydration.


. Soothe with antioxidant serums

Apply a hydrating antioxidant serum while skin is still slightly damp to allow deeper absorption. Key ingredients like vitamin C, vitamin E, resveratrol and ferulic acid neutralize free radicals and support collagen production. Allow to fully absorb before following with additional products. 

Expert Tip
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Clare Clarke

Layer serums from thinnest to thickest consistency for optimal absorption. The reason behind this method is that thinner serums are typically water-based and have smaller molecules that can penetrate the skin quickly and deeply. In contrast, thicker, oil-based serums have larger molecules that can form a barrier on the skin. If you apply a thick serum first, it may prevent the thinner serums from reaching the deeper layers of the skin where they can offer the most benefit. By waiting 1 minute between applications, you give each serum time to settle into the skin, maximizing the potential for each active ingredient to perform its intended role.


. Lock in moisture with rich creams

Slather on a nourishing face and body cream packed with skin-replenishing ingredients. Shea butter, plant oils, dimethicone, glycerin and hyaluronic acid are excellent options. Gently massage in until fully absorbed.  

Here’s a quick comparison table, containing some of our favorites:

ProductKey IngredientsBest For Skin TypeUnique BenefitsPetrolatum Presence
Augustinus Bader The Rich CreamTFC8®, Avocado Oil, Vitamin EAll, especially DrySupports cell renewal, luxurious textureNo
La Mer Crème de la MerMiracle Broth™, Lime Tea, Sea KelpDry, SensitiveIntense hydration, soothes skin, anti-agingYes
CeraVe Moisturizing CreamCeramides, Hyaluronic AcidDry to NormalRestores skin barrier, fragrance-free, affordableNo
Eucerin Advanced Repair CreamCeramide-3, Natural Moisturizing FactorsVery DryStrengthens skin’s barrier, non-greasyYes
Kiehl’s Ultra Facial CreamGlacial Glycoprotein, SqualaneAll24-hour hydration, lightweightNo

. Target eyes with dedicated formulas 

The thin skin around the eyes is especially vulnerable to wrinkles and dryness. Use a specially designed eye cream morning and night that hydrates without irritation. Look for powerhouse humectants like hyaluronic acid and soothing botanical extracts.

Expert Tip
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Clare Clarke

Gently tap eye cream around the orbital bone using your ring finger. This is the weakest digit, making it ideal for the delicate eye area.


. Exfoliate dead skin cells

One to two times per week, use a Polyhydroxy acid (PHA) exfoliant to dissolve rough, flaky skin and reveal radiance. Rinse after 1-2 minutes before applying serums and moisturizers.


. Shower with lukewarm water 

Hot showers, while relaxing, can strip healthy oils. Aim for lukewarm water instead and limit shower length to 5-10 minutes max. Finish with a cool 30 second rinse to close pores.


. Hydrate from the inside out

Drink at least 64 oz of water daily, infused with moisture-binding foods like cucumber, strawberries and mint. Consume bone broth and leafy greens to support collagen production. Take a hyaluronic acid supplement to amplify hydration.


. Protect from sun and wind

Shield skin daily with broad spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen, even in winter. Seek shade during peak sun hours. Cover skin with lightweight layers before going outside on cold, windy days.

Expert Tip
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Clare Clarke

For comprehensive protection, reapply sunscreen every 2 hours when outdoors, and consider wearing protective clothing and seeking shade during peak sunlight hours. UV exposure can accelerate the aging process, but diligent sun protection can help maintain your skin’s resilience and hydration levels.


. Adjust thermostat  

Run a humidifier to add moisture back into the air. Keep home heated to a maximum of 70°F to avoid excess evaporation from skin.


. Skincare fridges 

Storing skincare products like vitamin C serums, eye creams and face masks in the fridge helps depuff, brighten and soothe on application.

Expert Q&A

18 Responses

    1. Yes, look for targeted anti-aging ingredients like retinol to boost collagen and peptides to support firmness. Hyaluronic acid and ceramides also provide deep hydration as skin loses moisture and lipids with age. Start by using 2-3 times per week and slowly increase frequency based on your skin’s tolerance.

    1. Foods rich in omega fatty acids like avocados, nuts and olive oil strengthen skin’s moisture barrier from the inside out. Dark leafy greens contain antioxidants that nourish skin. Stay well hydrated and consume bone broth for a collagen boost.

    1. Limit use to 1-2 times per week max as these exfoliate already dry, flaky skin. Instead, opt for ultra-gentle polyhydroxy acid toners that lift away dead skin cells without stripping delicate skin.

    1. DO apply your richest, most emollient moisturizer immediately after cleansing while skin is still damp. This helps seal in hydration. DON’T forget your neck when moisturizing, as the delicate skin here also loses elasticity and moisture with age.

    1. Dullness is often linked to dryness and dead skin buildup. Using a weekly PHA peel reveals glow by removing dead cells. Vitamin C and antioxidant serums also impart radiance while stimulating collagen production. Alpha hydroxy acid serums with glycolic or lactic acid gently brighten.

    1. Itching is uncomfortable but also signals possible inflammation. Be sure to nurture skin gently with thick balms and hydrating masks rather than scratching. Also, keep showers lukewarm instead of hot and limit lengthy exposure outdoors to prevent exacerbation of dryness.

    1. Yes, always shield skin with broad spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen, even in winter when rays reflect off snow. Seek shade during peak sun hours and cover skin with lightweight layers before venturing outside into cold, windy weather.

    1. Use a humidifier in your home and office to counteract dry forced-air heating. Keep home temperatures set to a moderate 68-70°F; too much heat leads to excess evaporation of moisture from skin’s surface.

    1. Yes. An esthetician can evaluate your skin in-person, provide specialized treatments, and recommend a tailored skin care regimen. A dermatologist can assess for underlying conditions and prescribe topical medications that can effectively repair and replenish severely dry skin when over the counter options alone aren’t sufficient.

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  • Use a gentle, creamy cleanser formulated for mature skin.
  • Apply hydrating serums packed with ceramides, peptides and hyaluronic acid.
  • Follow serums with a rich moisturizer high in petrolatum, shea butter or plant-based oils.
  • Use an eye cream morning and evening formulated specifically for the delicate eye region.
  • Gently exfoliate with polyhydroxy acid (PHA) 1-2 times per week to reveal glowing skin.
  • Hydrate from within by consuming over 64 oz of water and collagen-rich foods daily.
  • Sleep on your back when using overnight masks to prevent rubbing off onto pillows.
  • Don’t use bar soaps or foaming cleansers which can strip natural oils.
  • Don’t layer multiple serums without waiting 1-2 minutes between products for full absorption.
  • Don’t forget to take moisturizer down to the neck and décolletage which also show signs of aging.
  • Don’t rub or tug skin around the eyes which is thinner and prone to creping.
  • Don’t exfoliate more than 2 times weekly or use abrasive scrubs to avoid irritation.
  • Don’t sleep in makeup or skincare products not intended for overnight use.


  • Use caution with new products if you have sensitive skin. Patch test by applying a small amount to your inner arm for 24-48 hours before incorporating into your full routine.
  • Retinol and acids can initially cause redness, peeling, irritation and increased sun sensitivity. Start by using only 1-2 times per week and slowly increase frequency based on tolerance. Always wear SPF during daytime.
  • Drinking too much water can disrupt electrolyte balance. Aim for the recommended daily 64 oz and include hydrating foods too. Consult your doctor if you have kidney, heart or liver issues.
  • Extended hot showers and baths can cause physical skin damage like burning. Keep temperature lukewarm and limit time in water to 5-10 minutes.
  • Skipping sun protection, even when indoors or on cloudy days, remains a hazard year-round. UV rays penetrate windows and still cause collagen breakdown. Wear SPF 30 daily.
  • Leaving certain creams and serums out at room temperature can breed bacteria over time. Store any jar packaging in the fridge between uses for optimal freshness and shelf life.
  • Over-exfoliating with physical scrubs or daily acid toners aggravates inflammation in already parched skin. Use gentle options like PHA or BHA toners just 1-2 times weekly instead.
  • If symptoms like redness, stinging, itching and peeling persist despite using gentle products, promptly contact your dermatologist to rule out related skin conditions requiring treatment.

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The content of this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis, or treatment. You should always contact your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional before starting, changing, or stopping any kind of health treatment.

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