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Skin dryness may have a systemic or a topical origin, sometimes both, which compounds the problem geometrically.  

Topical Causes
Topical causes of skin dryness are temporary in nature and caused by topical products (e.g. lotions, creams, cleansers), environmental stress (e.g. wind, sun, dirt), or contaminant (chemical). The dryness resulting will be more or less alleviated naturally, by the skin, when the topical cause is eliminated. That seems obvious, but it is surprising how often the cause of the dryness remains in play, while additional topical products are applied - to address the cause!

For example, to apply ‘skin moisturizers’ without eliminating the cause of skin dryness is to add fuel to the fire. The skin will sensitize to anything when it is dry and a simple over-exposure problem to a topical agent that is not soon eliminated can quickly jump to a rash and then onto dermatitis when more topical chemicals are brought to the scene; and moisturizers, whether natural, organic or synthetic, including water, are chemicals.

Your first objective – find and eliminate the cause.  Add nothing to the skin until the cause of the dryness is known. Eliminate it. Then treat.

Systemic Causes
Systemic sources of dryness range from medical or health conditions, to oral therapeutics, dietary choices and simple aging. See Chemotherapy for how our internal environment can play havoc with the skin. Many times the cause of skin dryness cannot be eliminated, especially when useful and necessary medications are in play.  Then again, many times the internal cause can be eliminated.  For example, mega dosing with vitamins and minerals can quickly lead to skin dryness, a form of substance abuse that we usually think of in terms of alcohol and smoking, which are in moderation, not skin depleting.

Drinking a gallon of water per day may help some people with skin moisturizing, but most studies are vague on this outcome of high water throughput. There are some studies that show a negative aspect to high water intake.

Addressed as a skin problem, systemic dryness requires that you compensate for whatever factors are in play internally that cannot be eliminated. Persons who take medications or have health issues that lead to skin dryness should pay close attention to building out epidermal growth, to retain water. This should be done very carefully. Saturating systemically dry skin with topical products only weakens the skin further. Continuous peels likewise will strip the skin barrier and the result will be a very weakened skin that behaves erratically - from breakouts to excess pigmentation to cuperose skin to just “blah” looks.

Systemic moisturizing, that is, the regeneration of a viable epidermal barrier is key. Avogen™ (avocatin 302) is an outstanding agent for building epidermal barrier functionality. How? Glucose activation is key to rebuilding dry, weak skin. This is the energy source that medications and age drain. It is vital for sustained skin cell proliferation – and the more cells and the better their condition, the more moisture retaining capacity of the skin.
Conversely, some skincare chemicals, especially Vitamin A family compounds, i.e retinoids (e.g. retinoic acid, retinyl palmitate, retinol, tretinoin, isotretinoin, etc) are very drying and deplete the skin through immune suppression. This may be desirable temporarily for a medical therapy but for an esthetic regime for dry skin, retinoids are to be avoided.

Dryness Home Care:

see: Aging / Mature Skin: Introductory/Basic Care