Help! Why is my skin so dry by evening?

A friend asked me why her skin feels a lot drier and tighter by evening and what she can do to overcome the problem – short of washing her face and re-moisturizing all over again. Coincidentally, this friend also has combination skin like me – dry cheeks with oilier t-zone. I have encountered this problem myself and these are some of the reasons I told her that could be causing the issue.

1. Moisture loss
She could be suffering from TEWL. Trans-epidermal water loss (or TEWL) is defined as a measurement of the quantity of water that passes from inside a body through the epidermal layer to the surrounding atmosphere via diffusion and evaporation processes. If our system is deficient in water, the skin’s upper layers become dry and brittle. This is why we need moisturizer. But we need more than moisturizer; to keep our skin hydrated from within, we need to drink sufficient amount of water. Hence, my advice to her was to sip water throughout the day instead of waiting till she is thirsty to keep her skin better hydrated.

2. Caffeinated beverages
Beverages with high caffeine content, such as coffee and tea, are considered diuretic and can cause more water to be lost. I am not sure about coffee but I am certain that drinking too much tea causes my skin to get drier in the course of the day, especially when I do not drink enough water. My friend loves to drink tea too and can drink three to four cups a day. Hence, I suggested to her to cut down on her consumption of tea and to drink more water instead.

3. Air temperature
In Singapore, most of us work in air conditioned environment and it’s no surprise that the blasting cool, dry air is taking moisture away from our skin. This translate into dry skin, as moisture is sucked out of our skin. The same is true of those who use central heating. My friend works long hours in an air conditioned room and I suggested perhaps she can try to get a humidifier, which is said to be able to solve the problem as it adds moisture to the air. I’ve also heard that putting a glass of water or filling a room with plants will also help resolve the problem.

4. Glands of skin
Additionally, I told her that it is widely known that our skin’s oil glands are also less active in cold weather. Plus, cheeks have very little sebaceous oil glands, and therefore are most susceptible to dryness. Hence, it’s no wonder that her cheek area can feel a lot tighter by the end of the day. To get around this, I told her to use a face mist once or twice in the day on that area and to remember to pat off the excess water and not leave the water to evaporate and cause more dryness.

5. Ingredients in moisturizer
While applying moisturizer is important to keep our skin from drying out, what ingredients are contained within the moisturizer needs to be considered. I think many of us like the idea of applying an oil-free moisturizer but some of these contains mostly humectants, such as glycerin, aloe vera, hyauronic acid, lecithin, colloidal oatmeal, to name a few. While such a moisturizer will keep skin moist as long as there is sufficient moisture in the air, they may actually draw moisture from the skin in a dry environment. Hence, it’s best to find a moisturizer that contains a good balance of humectants, occlusives and emollients so that your moisturizer is able to retain or seal that moisture in so it is not then lost back to the surrounding air. Which means, it shouldn’t be a completely oil free formula especially if you find yourself with dry skin. Personally, I always apply moisturizer over a layer of facial oil and I find that works extremely well for me. However, my friend is less keen on applying a layer of oil and so she’s trying to look for an alternative moisturizer.

So do you have the same issue as my friend? What do you do? What else should she be taking note of?


  1. Soos says:

    I can only speak from my own experience. First, does your friend wear makeup? Her makeup remover may be too harsh. Does she wash her face at night? Does she use toner? I no longer do so, as they are either too drying, or have no effect – negative or positive. I cleanse twice and rinse TWENTY TIMES each, instead.

    The two times when I experience the type of dryness you’re writing about here are: 1) weather is colder and drier than usual and 2) the cleanser I’m using is too drying, I need to switch to one that’s creamier.

    I know your climate is even more humid than ours in HNL. When I’m at work, it’s usually in rooms with air con. My skin is easily and quickly affected by weather, sun and what makeup I wear and I constantly have to adjust.

    Best to your friend. We’d like to know what works for her!

  2. fwy says:

    God bless the people of Japan!! We feel your pain and stand with you through this awful event. Stay strong! My heart goes out to you all.

  3. Cara says:

    I have the same problem! I always attributed it to the weather though. I live in a very dry area and it doesn’t help that the a/c or heater is ALWAYS on!

    I’m not a fan of of putting oils on my face either, but I find that using natural oils like almond or jojoba are pretty fantastic! I also like to use a rich and creamy night cream. Right now, I’m using Yes to Carrots Repairing Night Cream. I’ve also used Korres Oak & Quercetin line.

    Hope that helps! ?

  4. Winnie says:

    I agree putting oil before moisturizer can sustain the moisture on my skin/face. I am currently using Bobbi Brown’s Face Oil after my toner and it makes so much difference.

  5. Rainbow says:

    Hello! I have dry skin and moisturizers are not my thing: facial oils are much more balancing for me. I have a question though: if you are tying to seal the moisture in, why do you apply your oil BEFORE your moisturizer? I read that if you do that, you are really sealing the skin, and the actives of the moisturizer are not penetrating. that makes sense to me: consider what happens when you slather oil on your face and then put water on it: the water does not sink in, the skin is like “closed”. This is why I first put on everything water based (which includes toner and moisturizer) and only then, i finish with the facial oil. I would love to hear your thoughts on this and thanks for the great info on your blog!

  6. MissQ says:

    Hey sesame, the 5-point advice you have given your friend make alot of sense and I totally agree with points 3-5!
    I know for a fact that caffeinated beverages not only dehydrate the body but they also drain your body of calcium faster. So ladies please take note!
    I used to be afraid of applying anything that has oil in it because i am pimple-prone but i still ended up with eczema attacks time to time. Until i learn about the concept of using oil to retain moisture (first from GoW, now from sesame), i started to be very selective about the ingredients that go into my serums/moisturizers and will always ensure that i have a balance of humectants and emollients. ?

  7. Rose says:

    I used to have this problem but after I switched over to organic moisturizer, my skin has improved dramatically. I also make sure I drink plenty of water too. Using a great moisturizer won’t do much good if your whole system is lacking water.

  8. sesame says:

    I think her cleansers etc are all right cos she will start the day feeling normal about her skin but by the time it hits around 5pm and beyond, her skin starts to feel dry. It annoys her cos she often wants to stretch her skincare/makeup beyond 5pm as she meets friends for dinner, etc. She wears makeup but I need to ask her about what she use…she avoids alcohol in her products as far as I know.

  9. sesame says:

    I think her night time products are okay…she might need to change a moisturizer.

  10. sesame says:

    That’s great!

  11. sesame says:

    You raised a good point – yes, it is recommended that you put your oil over your moisturizer especially water-based type cos oil cannot penetrate water. I put my oil under my moisturizer because my moisturizer contains zinc oxide, which is to sit on top. I should have clarified that.

    But in the night, I also often put my oil under my moisturizer too cos it’s pretty rich and not too lotion-like. Sometimes I do it the other way round.

  12. sesame says:

    If you’re acne prone, be selective about the oil you use. I found grapeseed oil to be good back when I was really acne prone. Usually, two to three drops suffice.

  13. sesame says:

    True, true. I myself have this problem when I don’t drink enough water in the day.

  14. purrbliss says:

    i used to suffer from that too. my skin will get extremely tight by 3 or 4pm. i think applying oil will help a bit? after i use a combination of facial mask, night cream, rose hip oil, i no longer suffer from this problem.

  15. sesame says:

    Facial oil is really good because the nutrients can really penetrate better than creams or lotions. I love them.

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