There are few things worse (beauty-wise!) than having dry, rough, flaking, itchy— or, ouch, cracked— skin on your face. Not only can parched skin look unsightly, even making your face appear older than it actually is and makeup difficult to apply, but it can also be itchy and painful and make your complexion susceptible to other issues, such as sensitivity and redness.

We asked top skin experts, including dermatologists and Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab scientists, for their best advice on the causes of and treatments for dry skin on the face.

What causes dry, flaky skin and dry patches on the face?

There is a laundry list of possible culprits, from the weather and environment to certain products and skin conditions. “Lack of hydration in skin makes your complexion dull and accentuates wrinkles, and it’s more likely to occur in winter," explains Jeanine Downie, M.D., a dermatologist at Image Dermatology in Montclair, New Jersey.

"Cold and windy conditions may dehydrate your face due to lack of humidity in the environment, and dryness can also be caused by irritating products that can strip natural oils, like those with alcohol, astringents and harsh acids." Other potential factors prompting dry skin on the face can include over-cleansing or exfoliating, which can also deplete skin's oils, as well as skin and health conditions that cause skin dehydration, such as atopic dermatitis (eczema), psoriasis, and diabetes.

How to treat dry skin on the face

By making small lifestyle changes and choosing the right skin care products, you can stop dry skin and nix flaky patches on your face pretty quickly. Here are dermatologist- and expert-approved ways to hydrate parched skin fast: