5 Skin Moisture Zappers

By: Victoria Vogt

What can make your skin as dry as the desert? Well, spending too much time in the desert, for starters.
What can make your skin as dry as the desert? Well, spending too much time in the desert, for starters.
Silva Otte/Getty Images

You do all the necessary things to ensure great skin. Not only do you cleanse, exfoliate and moisturize regularly, but you also buy the newest high-end products. With all the time and money you've invested in skin care, it doesn't seem to make sense why your dry skin persists. But skin moisture zappers might be undermining your good skin care habits. Even if you're doing all the right things, some lifestyle and environmental factors can be undoing the good you do to your body's largest organ.

Most skin cleansing tips focus on products and treatments you can apply to the surface of your skin. But did you know that your skin's moisture depends just as much on nutrition as it does on lotions and body balms? What's more, some well-meaning things we do to our skin actually sabotage its moisture levels by stripping away essential oils and breaking down its protective barrier. Ready to defend your skin's moisture from the inside out? Read on.


5: What's in Your Glass

You may not know it, but some of the beverages you drink may be zapping the moisture from your skin, essentially drying your skin from the inside out. Alcohol is one of these moisture zappers. For some people, there's nothing quite as relaxing as sipping on a beer or cocktail after a long day at work. But the effects of your after-work cocktail might create more stress for you in the long run. Because alcohol is a diuretic, it causes the body to flush out its much-needed water content as you digest it.

You can also add this popular beverage to your list of things to avoid: coffee. Like alcohol, coffee is a diuretic. Downing cups of coffee will send you to the bathroom frequently -- and send your body's moisture level down the drain. If you're concerned about the health and moisture of your skin, you'll want to make conscious choices about the beverages you drink. Try limiting your alcohol and coffee consumption to just a few times a week.


To get that healthy glow, there's no way around it: You'll have to drink lots of water. Incidentally, that's what our next tip is about.

4: Not Drinking Enough Water

This might seem like an obvious skin moisture zapper, but it's one that some people constantly struggle with. Even if you know that water is essential to healthy skin, you might find it difficult to get enough of the clear stuff. Some people simply don't like the taste or temperature of water, and they come up a few glasses short at the end of each day. Others make a concerted effort to drink more water, but they get caught up in a hectic schedule and forget about it until they're well into a dehydrated condition that's accompanied by headaches, dry mouth or worse.

Dry skin may be one of the first signs that a person is generally not drinking enough water. As you may know, the human body is composed of nearly 70 percent water. Our bodies need a little help maintaining proper hydration, so put this skin care tip at the top of your list: Drink eight or more 8-ounce glasses of water each day.


3: Age

Anyone at any stage of life can have dry skin, but age is a skin moisture zapper that's just part of growing older. Around age 50, the body's thirst sensation can diminish, causing you to reduce your water intake and not get the amount that you actually need. Then, there's the fact that your body chemistry changes, readjusting hormone levels. This, in turn, can signal your skin's oil-producing glands to slow down, and your skin may not have the luster it once had [source: Aging Skin Net]. Add these factors to environmental ones like sun and wind, and it's understandable that your skin care needs will change as you age [source: Good Morning America].

You can't stop your skin from aging, but you can do a few things to slow the process.When you're caring for mature skin, experts commonly recommend oil-based products for skin cleansing and moisturizing. In fact, much of the advice proffered to people with dry skin will suit aging skin that needs a little moisture.


2: Where You Live

When the humidity or heat of your hometown affects your hair, it's pretty easy to notice. Frizzy locks or dry, split ends are visual cues that the environment is taking a toll on your appearance. But look a little closer in the mirror -- your surroundings might be damaging your complexion, too.

Dry air can be a major skin moisture zapper. Whether you live in a climate that's dry all the time, like a desert region, or one that has a particularly cold season or two each year, the air in the atmosphere can drain moisture from your skin. If you live in a place with frigid temperatures and use an electric heater to stay warm in your home or office, beware of the dry, forced air that can deplete your skin's moisture. What's more, you may be tempted to skip the sunscreen in cold climates, but the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays can still cause damage to your skin, even in icy locales.


The bottom line -- no matter where you live -- is to maintain a consistent skin cleansing and moisturizing regimen that's appropriate for your skin type. Your skin will benefit from this constant care.

1: Bathtime

Long baths may seem like the perfect way to wash away dirt, oil and bacteria, but this age-old practice is a huge skin moisture zapper. Soaking in a tub full of hot water to wash away stress or taking a cold shower to achieve the appearance of tauter skin may be two skin care myths you've heard. They're myths for a reason: Neither does much good for your skin.

Most doctors will advise limiting your bath or shower to five to 10 minutes; others recommend spending even less time in the water [source: AgingSkinNet]. Experts know that after you've been in the water too long, your skin actually loses water between each layer and from its cells. Soaking too long in the bath also depletes natural oils that help protect your skin. Don't be surprised to hear a dermatologist or other skin care expert tell you that a short, warm shower is the best and most direct route to caring for your skin.


Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • AgingSkinNet."Causes of Aging Skin." 2008. (Sept. 15, 2009). http://www.skincarephysicians.com/agingskinnet/basicfacts.html
  • American Academy of Dermatology. "Turning back the hands of time." Feb. 21, 2005. (Sept. 10, 2009). http://www.aad.org/media/background/news/Releases/Turning_Back_the_Hands_of_Time/
  • American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. "Dry Skin." 2009. (Sept. 7, 2009). http://www.aocd.org/skin/dermatologic_diseases/dry_skin.html
  • Crisp, Stuart. "Coping with Dry Dkin." April 1, 2005. (Sept. 10, 2009).http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/health_advice/facts/dryskin.htm
  • Fischer, Karen. "The Seven Steps to Perfect Skin: How to Keep the Body's Largest Organ in Peak Condition." Mail Online. Sept. 7, 2009. (Sept. 10, 2009).
  • Good Morning America. "Skin Care Excerpt: 'You: Being Beautiful' Get Some Secret Tips for Great Skin Care." Dec. 7, 2008. (Sept. 17, 2009).http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Books/story?id=6374345&page=1
  • Hausen, Rebecca. "Alcohol's Effect on the Skin." Menscience. March 11, 2008. (Sept. 10, 2009).http://www.menscience.com/assets/newsletter/news0308.html
  • Indiana Public Media. "Dry Skin: Why Does It Occur?" A Moment of Science. Dec. 14, 2005. (Sept. 12, 2009). http://indianapublicmedia.org/amomentofscience/dry-skin/
  • "Skin Moisture." Argonne National Laboratory Division of Educational Programs. (Sept. 24, 2009). http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/gen01/gen01057.htm
  • University of Iowa, Department of Dermatology. "Winter Dry Skin." Aug. 7, 2006. (Sept. 12, 2009). http://www.uihealthcare.com/topics/skinhealth/winterskin.html