Rough, dry, scaly—these are not words you want to use to describe your skin (unless you’re a reptile). Unfortunately, the stresses of daily life can damage your skin’s natural moisture barrier, leaving your skin feeling dry, tight, and flaky. This is especially true for those already prone to dryness, though certain factors—like living in an arid climate or frequent exposure to drying chemicals—can also affect how your skin looks and feels.
With winter fast approaching, the season where dry, scaly skin is most prevalent will soon be upon us. Thankfully, you don’t need to suffer with dryness—we’re here to help. Ahead, you’ll learn about some of the most common scaly skin causes and discover our top tips for managing dry, rough-feeling skin. We’ll also introduce you to eight Kiehl’s products that we love for addressing scaly skin on your legs (and elsewhere). So get comfortable and keep scrolling for your Kiehl’s guide to managing dry, scaly skin.
What Is Scaly Skin?
Scaliness is a skin texture concern characterized by dryness, roughness, and unevenness. It likely gets its name from its tactile resemblance to snake scales, which can feel bumpy and rough. Scaly skin may also be accompanied by related concerns, such as cracking, peeling, and irritation, though scaliness isn’t always painful.
What Causes Scaly Skin?
When your skin is at its healthiest, it should feel smooth, soft, and even-textured. Dryness can lead to the opposite—roughness and unevenness. As we noted above, exposure to stressors like harsh weather can damage your skin’s ability to retain moisture, leading to dehydration. Over time, excessive dehydration can cause your skin to take on a scaly texture—similar to the way your heels may feel rough after a long summer of running around barefoot. At this point, your skin may begin to crack and peel. Failing to slough off this dead, dry outer layer of skin can cause your once-smooth skin to take on a bumpy, reptilian-like texture. No thanks.
How To Manage Scaly Skin:
5 Kiehl’s Tips
If you’re prone to rough, scaly skin, proper skincare is essential to keep your skin looking and feeling its best. Ahead, discover our top tips for caring for scaly skin.
Gently Exfoliating Body Scrub
As we mentioned earlier, scaliness often results from a buildup of dead cells on the outer layer of the skin. While your skin will shed the dead layers eventually, exfoliating can help speed up the process, giving your skin a smoother, more even feel.
If you’re struggling with scaly skin on your legs, arms, or torso, we suggest adding a body scrub to your daily shower routine. Look for one that also contains emollients, such as Gently Exfoliating Body Scrub. Made with glycerin, cocoa butter, and apricot seed powder, the mild formula helps remove dead cells without over-drying your skin. It’s suitable for all skin types and can be used daily for skin that feels soft and velvety.
Alternatively, try Creme de Corps Soy Milk & Honey Body Polish, which contains honey, jojoba oil, and luffa fruit. The luxurious scrub exfoliates the skin while priming it for moisture for a softer, more supple feel over time.
To address dry, scaly skin on your face, we recommend adding a creamy exfoliating cleanser like Clearly Corrective Brightening & Exfoliating Daily Cleanser to your routine. The purifying formula helps remove dirt, oil, and environmental pollutants while gently exfoliating the skin. It’s suitable for all skin types and can be used daily to reveal smoother, more visibly refined skin with consistent use.
Turn Down The Heat
Long, steamy showers and baths may feel amazing, but they’re not doing your skin any favors. Hot water can strip your skin of its natural oils, leaving you with skin that feels dry, tight, and rough. If you want to improve the feel of your scaly skin, bathe with lukewarm water and try to keep your showers under ten minutes.
Moisturize Immediately After Showering
One of the most effective scaly skin treatments is also the simplest: moisturizer. After showering, while your skin is still damp, lock in hydration with a lightweight body oil, such as Creme de Corps Nourishing Dry Body Oil. The luxurious formula with grapeseed oil and squalane comes in a spray bottle that delivers a fine, even mist of the non-greasy oil. Once applied, this subtly-scented body oil nourishes the skin with hydration, helping it feel softer, smoother, and more supple. The decadent formula is suitable for all skin types and can be used daily as part of your regular body care routine.
Creme de Corps Soy Milk & Honey Whipped Body Butter
Since scaliness typically goes hand-in-hand with severe dryness, we suggest layering a richer body cream over your body oil to help ensure your skin stays moisturized all day. We’re particularly fond of Creme de Corps Soy Milk & Honey Whipped Body Butter, which contains shea butter and jojoba butter. Though rich, the air-whipped cream absorbs quickly and nourishes your skin with all-day hydration without a heavy or greasy feel.
Intensive Treatment & Moisturizer For Dry or Callused Areas
For extremely dry, scaly areas, Intensive Treatment & Moisturizer For Dry or Callused Areas is a must-have. This heavy-duty moisturizer is uniquely formulated to soothe and soften extremely dry areas, including rough, callused skin. It provides intensive moisture and can be used as needed to help relieve extreme dryness.
Try Lightweight Hydrating Face Products
While thick, heavy moisturizers can be great for scaliness on your body, your face often requires a lighter touch—overly-heavy formulas can leave your skin looking slick or greasy. Help boost moisture with a hydrating facial serum, like Hydro-Plumping Hydrating Serum. Formulated with our unique epidermal hydration filler, this lightweight formula helps encourage skin’s natural production of hyaluronic acid, a molecule closely involved with maintaining skin’s moisture and elasticity. When used regularly, this gentle face serum also helps improve the appearance of dehydrated skin, leaving it looking smoother and plumper over time.
Though a hydrating facial serum can help boost hydration, it alone isn’t enough to improve the look and feel of scaly skin: A moisturizer is essential, too. To help improve your skin’s texture, we also suggest reaching for a moisturizer made with emollients, such as our cult-classic Ultra Facial Cream. The iconic formula stars squalane, a signature Kiehl’s ingredient. It provides instant and long-lasting hydration to help keep your skin feeling moisturized for up to 24 hours. The customer-favorite moisturizer is suitable for all skin types and can be used twice daily for skin that looks softer, smoother, and visibly healthier over time.
Visit Your Dermatologist
If you’re exfoliating regularly, using enough moisturizer, and avoiding super-long showers and find that your scaliness isn’t improving, a visit to the dermatologist may be in order. Your dermatologist can help determine what’s causing your skin to crack and peel and—more importantly—arm you with the tools you need to help address the issue.