What Causes Dry Skin?

The real culprit behind dry skin isn’t what you think

Wondering why your skin is always so dry? We’ve been doing it all wrong, and here’s why.

cracking desert closeup

Perfectly poised images flood Instagram feeds flaunting models and influencers with dewy, flawless, impossibly supple skin. It’s enough to make anyone envious, and that’s the point. We see it, we want it, and we ask ourselves how we can achieve it. Then we buy the product and believe in the promises.

Spoiler alert: They rarely deliver.

The only real way to achieve that close-up, picture-worthy skin is this: hire a professional stylist, let them apply gobs of makeup to appear “natural”, and have that photo digitally altered until your skin shimmers under the supposition of clean, pristine, authentic beauty.

Deep down, we all know those images are aspirational. They’re also expensive- which is why we’re here to tell you the truth about dry skin. First, dive into the the basics of how skin works.


As humans and as consumers, we love labels. We like the concept of identifying ourselves as being “something,” as belonging to a category. That’s why it was so easy for a marketing guru by the name of Helena Rubenstein to take advantage of our penchant for pigeonholing ourselves and invent the concept of “skin types.” In other words, it’s all made up. Just like those Instagram images.

The first truth about skin is that it’s an organ. Meaning, it knows what to do in order to keep itself functioning properly. We trust our lungs to do their job, we trust our liver and our heart…so likewise, we should trust our skin. The skin knows how to keep itself properly hydrated.



As easy as it might be to blame our skin for being “dry,” the real problem isn’t our skin- it’s usually us. It’s everything we’re doing to our skin that’s encouraging it to react. Skin is simply an organ responding to the substances we slather onto it, exfoliate from it, peel off of it, and cleanse from it. It’s an organ being affected by where we take it and what we expose it to. That includes the food we eat, the substances we drink, the products we use, and our environment.

So, if you have dry skin, it’s more likely that you’re just overdoing it, causing the skin to respond in a way that prompts a reduction in hydration levels, affecting your skin’s ability to retain moisture.

There are genetic exceptions, of course, like eczema and rosacea. These conditions cause the immune system to overreact, making skin ultra-sensitive to internal stressors and external environments. For these conditions, it’s best to consult a dermatologist for a more personalized approach. But it also drives the point that clean beauty and self-care are an approach fit for everyone.

It’s time to toss out the skin-type myth and understand how we can all help our skin help itself. In order to do that, we have to look at the bigger picture- the microbiome.



 On your skin, trillions of tiny microbes are hard at work, protecting you from internal and external stressors. Whether it’s rays from the hot summer sun, bitter cold from harsh winter winds, or air pollutants it’s exposed to on highly-trafficked city streets, your microbiome is constantly at work playing defense. It’s the same story internally when our hormones are going wild or we’re stressing about a big exam or a high-level presentation at work. Our microbiome is doing its best to work for us.
globe with mask illustration giphy

Problems occur when we intervene too much. All of our well-intended masks, peels and scrubs are often doing more harm than good. In effect, we’re unbalancing our skin’s natural pH, putting this precious organ into overdrive. It’s like setting all of the alarms in the neighborhood off at the same time.

So, skin overreacts by producing more or less of its natural oils. More sebum can quickly turn into breakouts. Less sebum production can turn into, you guessed it…dry skin. Then to top it off, we over cleanse, use harsh chemicals in our makeup and cleansing products, over-exfoliate…you get the idea. With so much activity, our skin just kinda freaks out.



The microbiome maintains the skin’s pH, regulates our immune response, and defends against pathogens. Healthy skin relies on a healthy relationship with these microbes to prevent skin inflammation. Inflammation is what’s behind redness, dehydration, dullness, and loss of elasticity. A balanced microbiome is able to maintain a normal pH, prevent and calm inflammation, maintain moisture, and regenerate cells regularly.



There are several things you can do to balance your all-important microbiome, and thankfully, it’s a less-is-more approach (‘cause time is precious). Your microbiome doesn’t need 17 products to thrive, it just needs you to support it.

  • Commit to Clean Beauty

Use products that are made without irritating and/or environmentally unfriendly additives. We’re committed to clean, conscientious beauty, so every single product in the Layers collection is clean and free from chemicals that we believe have no place in skincare. These ingredients are known to harm human health and the environment and they have no place on your face:

    • Parabens
    • mineral oil
    • Petroleum
    • Silicone
    • Phthalates
    • Sulfates
    • Formaldehyde
    • Triclosan
    • Gluten
    • Products tested on animals
  • Practice Good Probiotics
yogurt in a glass

In order to flourish, our bodies need diversity both inside and outside. That diversity is what helps it learn to protect itself from a wide range of elements. Probiotics are tiny, living organisms that help our gut, and therefore our skin, thrive. Probiotic skincare is a holistic approach to beauty that works from the inside out.

The Inside Approach: We get probiotics naturally from certain foods, but with the lack of biodiversity in the average diet, the more we can supplement good bacteria and bacterial diversity, the better.

  • Take a clean, potent probiotic daily. High quality, once-a-day products like Layers Daily Glow Probiotic Supplements are an essential part of balancing the microbiome. Pop one with your morning coffee and you’re done!
  • Eat to support your gut by adding these probiotic powerhouses to your diet. Be sure to inspect their sugar content before buying- the lower, the better.
    • Probiotic yogurt
    • Kefir
    • Sauerkraut
    • Tempeh
    • Kimchi
    • Miso
    • Kombucha
The Outside Approach: Probiotics aren’t just good for your belly. Using topical probiotic skincare supports your microbiome in the same way it supports your digestive system- through diversity.
Clinically-Proven Probiotic Skincare that Works:
    • Renewing Probiotic Serum contains Lactobacillus Ferment and Lactic Acid, helping to speed up the renewal process of your skin cells. This means naturally enhanced brightness and visible radiance with 2.4 x surface renewal. Get a fresher face faster with good-for-you ingredients.
    • Balancing Milky Cleanser contains a prebiotic + probiotic blend of yogurt powder and lactobacillus ferment, removing impurities while preserving good bacteria. It keeps your skin pH balanced and preserves hydration.
    • Immunity Moisturizer is emollient-rich, with lactobacillus ferment, pomegranate, and milk thistle extracts. These work together to increase microflora diversity for resilient, nourished, hydrated skin. 
  • Settle into a Self-Care Habit

The thing we sometimes miss about self-care is that it needs to be a regular part of our routine. We’re not talking about spa days or the occasional massage. Real wellness is a daily affair. It’s also personal, so find the things that bring you joy and help you relax, and make a daily habit of them.

Here are some of our faves:

    • Yoga or regular stretch intervals throughout the day
    • Eating well- lots of fruits, veggies, and fiber
    • Meditating or simply sitting with no screen distractions
    • Taking daily walks
    • Regular exercise
    • A hot bath with candles and relaxing music
    • Cozy chairs and good books
    • Cooking
    • Connecting with friends
    • Occasional treats -wellness doesn’t mean giving up good wine and dark chocolate



Combating a parched complexion is about more than creams and not-so-magic elixirs. Balanced skin is achieved through a holistic approach to skincare that supports your microbiome and a lifestyle that nourishes your body as a whole. It’s simple and doable with an inside-out approach, and we believe in making that easy. When you support your microbiome, it supports you. So, take care of your skin by not overdoing it, and let it do its thing. By giving your microbiome the right tools, you’re helping it perform to a higher standard, banishing dry skin for good by working from the inside out.