The number one cause of dry skin is the build up of dead skin cells. With regular exfoliation, good hydration and moisturizing you can see improvement. There are many types of exfoliation to include products, chemical peels, microdermabrasion and even dermaplaning/epidermal leveling.
Working conservatively, start with good products which contain mild acids (i.e. lactic, glycolic, salicylic or L-ascorbic). Gently remove the dead skin cells over a period of time. The use of Alpha Hydroxy Acids also stimulates collagen to improve the look of aging skin.
For fast results, microdermabrasion, dermaplaning or epidermal leveling will remove a larger amount of dead skin cells faster. A common method is to use these modalities in combination with chemical peels. Once the dead skin cells are removed you can apply great moisturizers and hydrators which will penetrate the skin better after the exfoliation. Hyaluronic acid or Sodium Hyaluronate is a very good hydrator with the ability to hold 1000 times its weight in water. Other nice oils include Rosewood, Avocado, Johoba and Sunflower. Aloe Vera is also very moisturizing and healing.
Once the skin is effectively exfoliated, moisturized and hydrated, the next step is to use a product which is occlusive. A common ingredient to serve this purpose is Squalene. Squalene is a highly effective emollient. Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide are great choices commonly found in sunblock. They are both occlusive and protect the skin from UVA and UVB rays. These can be purchased in a micronized formula and applied daily to protect and prevent sun damage and at the same time holding the moisture in the skin.