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To answer frequently asked questions about moisturising dry skin we spoke to consultant dermatologist and spokesperson for the British Skin Foundation, Dr Tamara Griffiths:

1. What are the classic symptoms of dry skin?

Dry skin is common, especially in the winter months and is characterised by a slightly rough, dull complexion and sometimes a taut feeling, especially after the skin is washed.

2. What does moisturising do for dry skin?

The main function of moisturising dry skin is to improve protection. The skin acts as a barrier and dry skin doesn’t work as well. Moisturising creates a more effective barrier, which improves function and promotes healthy skin.

3. Should you treat dry skin on your face and body differently?

It depends on the individual. Some dermatologists would suggest using the same cream on the face and body. There are, however, other issues when it comes to the face. People may want cream with sun protection or with anti-ageing properties. Skin is thinner on the face so may require a different approach.

4. How often should you moisturise dry skin?

If skin is dry, moisturise daily or even more regularly, especially if it is tight, flaky or cracking.  

5. What should you put on dry skin to moisturise it?

Ointment is better for dry skin than cream but some people think it feels too thick on their face. Lotions don’t always soak in well enough and tend to evaporate. For very dry skin it’s best to apply ointments to wet skin.

6. What ingredients are good for dry skin?

Occlusive agents like petrolatum, mineral oil or lanolin trap water. They create an oily barrier on the surface of your skin.

Humectants attract water into the upper layers of skin - ingredients include substances like propylene glycol and urea.

7. What ingredients should be avoided?

If you have very dry, sensitive skin, it is best to avoid cosmetic products containing alcohol, such as alcohol based toners or cleansers, and go easy on the exfoliation. Soaps may dry the skin out too, so choose soap-free cleansing products that are designed for dry skin.

8. Are there any foods or drinks that help dry skin?

Not really. A balanced healthy diet with plenty of water is recommended. A low fat diet may promote dry skin but there’s not that strong a link.

9. Will moisturising make my skin look better?

Skin on your face doesn’t look nice when it’s dry because it sheds in clumps giving you a duller complexion. When you moisturise your skin reflects light and has more radiance.

Many different moisturisers are available to buy, varying in their degree of greasiness. It is important to find one you like to use.

10. If you have dry skin when should you seek medical advice?

If you feel pain, cracking, itching or redness it’s best to seek medical advice from your GP or a dermatologist as it may be an underlying skin condition like eczema or psoriasis.

Moisturising the skin is good at maintaining healthy skin but it doesn’t cure skin disease.