Think of your skin as a fine wooden table. The wood contains essential oils that are protected by a strong outer finish. If you scrub the table daily with a harsh cleanser, you'll strip away the protective coating, dry the underlying wood and cause cracks to appear. To take proper care of the table, you must use a special furniture cleaner and protect the tabletop from stains. The same amount of care should be given to your skin. The cleansers you use on your body affect the amount of moisture your skin retains. Harsh cleansers can be damaging to the outermost layer of your skin, just as an abrasive soap can be damaging to the table's finish [source: University of Iowa Department of Dermatology].
While it may seem counterintuitive, cleaning products can actually cause your skin to produce more oil, and using moisture-zapping soaps, astringents and toners can further damage and dry your skin. To avoid these problems, steer clear of antibacterial and deodorant soaps and choose body and facial cleansers instead. This is especially important if you have sensitive skin or combination skin with a mix of dry and oily patches.
If your skin is extremely dry, moisturizing cleansers can be used without water; however, water is essential to healthy skin and should play a role in your daily skin care regimen. Limit your showers to one 10-minute shower a day and keep the water temperature from getting too hot. Excessive bathing and exposure to extremely hot water can both dry your skin further [source: MayoClinic].
Prevention is the best medicine, so keep reading to learn how to protect your skin from dryness.