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How To Get Rid Of Ashy Skin For Men

No guy wants to be the flaky friend, especially when it comes to skincare. If you’re the guy that skips out on group events because you can’t stand the look and feel of chalky, dry skin, then you need some help figuring out how to get rid of ashy skin.

Table of Contents

What Is Ashy Skin?

Ashy skin is that chalky-looking, dry buildup on your body. It’s your dead skin that has dried out and gotten flaky. You probably see it most on the soles of your feet, your knees, and your elbows. If you shave your legs and arms (whether for a sport or sex appeal), you might also see it along your limbs.

The darker your skin tone, the more likely you are to visibly notice ashy skin. If you’re fair-skinned, you probably don’t see that dead skin buildup, but there’s a good chance you feel it. Ashy skin is can feel tight, dried-out, and often uncomfortable.

Causes Of Ashy Skin

There are a ton of different reasons why you might have ashy skin, but the common denominator is always dryness and failing to exfoliate away dead skin.

Some of the common causes of that dryness:

Hot Showers

Hot showers can be a huge stress-reliever at the end of the day…but they also strip away your natural oils that moisturize your skin. Without that natural oil buildup, your skin gets dry and your dead skin starts to gather into those ashy flakes.

The water doesn’t necessarily have to be hot to do this – any prolonged exposure to water will dry you out. Chlorinated water is also a huge offender, promoting ashy skin.

Chemical-y Bathroom Products

Your bathroom products, even your lotions, might be doing your skin a disservice. Lots of products marketed for your skin contain detergents that ultimately dry you out. That’s why I always recommend buying all-natural; all-natural soaps, scrubs, and lotions contain friendlier ingredients that will cure ashiness in the short- and long-run.

Dry Climate

Perpetually dry climates lead to perpetually dry, ashy skin. My fellow desert-dwellers, we have to work even harder to thwart the ashy skin cycle.

Not Moisturizing Or Exfoliating

Sticking to an exfoliating and moisturizing routine is the best way to get rid of ashy skin. (We’ll talk about that more in a minute!) If you flake on your skincare routine, you’re more likely to see some dead skin buildup.

Is Ashy Skin Genetic?

To a certain extent, ashy skin can be genetic. Outside factors like the products you use and the climate you live in can contribute, but if your parents had problems with dry, flaky skin, there’s a good chance that you will too.

Ashy skin is also more noticeable on darker skin tones – which many people inherit from their parents. The flakes are often white or gray, so they stand out against brown and black skin. White guys often fail to notice ashiness until it starts to feel uncomfortable or causes irritation. That’s why it’s important to stick to a skincare routine that prevents ashy skin, even if you don’t notice it immediately. It’s always building up.

How To Get Rid Of Ashy Skin

To avoid ashy skin, you’re going to want to set yourself up with a good exfoliating and moisturizing routine (and stick with it – don’t be a flake). Use a body and facial scrub to target the especially rough patches, then rub yourself down with a lotion to soothe flakiness.

Depending on how sensitive your skin is, you can exfoliate up to 3 times per week, fewer if your skin gets irritated easily.

And be careful about which products you choose. Face and body scrubs have a lot of benefits beyond just preventing ashy skin, but you’ll want to choose something that doesn’t have detergents or parabens. Sticking with an all-natural option is often the safest bet.

You can also try taking colder showers, swapping out commercial bathroom products for natural products, and moisturizing more often throughout the day. For ashiness on your feet, you can use a pumice stone or another physical scrubber – something rougher than what you’ll get from a normal body scrub.

If worst comes to worst, you can also try scheduling a pedicure or a spa appointment. The professionals know what they’re doing when it comes to ashy skin. They can put you in a better position to ward off future ashiness with normal, all-natural products. 

Why Is My Skin Still Ashy After Lotion?

If your lotion just doesn’t seem to be working (make sure you’re using the best lotion for black men and the best face wash you can for black men first), it could be one of three things: your skin is too dry to absorb the lotion, you forgot to exfoliate, or you’re being impatient.

Remember, ashiness is caused by the dead skin and dry skin sitting on top of your healthy skin cells. Lotion alone isn’t going to rub that skin away. You need to use a scrub to rub it off, then moisturize it to prevent future ashiness.

In some cases, if the ashiness is more dryness-related than dead skin-related, your skin might just be too dry to absorb lotion. Try rinsing off with soap (in the shower or just at the sink, if it’s your hands), then reapply the lotion. If the lotion still won’t work, then you probably need to exfoliate with a scrub.

Other times, your lotion just needs a few minutes to work. Lots of high-end, heavy duty lotions take up to 15 minutes to fully absorb. They’re great at keeping your skin moisturized all day long, but you need to be patient with them.

Why Do I Get Ashy After A Shower?

Earlier we mentioned that hot showers might be drying out your skin – long showers also do the same. But showers in general are just really good at leaving you with tight, dry, ashy skin.

If you remember the “is water wet?” debate, this is the one argument for answering “no.” Instead of moisturizing your skin, water actually rinses away the natural oils that moisturize your skin. When it comes to learning how to get rid of ashy skin, it’s important to know that without your natural oils protecting you, your dead skin dries out and becomes ashy skin.

That’s why the best time to apply a lotion (or any moisturizer) is after you shower. It keeps you from being the flaky friend.

Frank Edwards is a men's grooming & style expert who is "internet famous" for being able to simplify complicated grooming routines into easy, yet effective rituals any man can do. As a professional analyst, he has spent years researching the biggest brands, products, experts, best practices, and breaking news in the space. He takes this analysis, tests it out on himself, and then documents everything in his writing. As a result, his experience-based articles are considered by some to be the gold standard in men's grooming and men's style.