Dry skin is a big concern at this time of year. Cold air to extreme heat, elements like wind and rain coupled with mask wearing and our skin shows the toll. Dry skin can be problematic if you aren’t treating it correctly and much of what you are doing could be exacerbating it. First, we need to decide if our skin is dry or dehydrated. Yes, the two are different! Dry skin has a lack of oil glands and appears dull, rough or flakey. Dehydrated skin is a result of lack of water which leads to loss of resilience. If you can pinch your skin and it remains tented, your are most likely dehydrated. Skin is our natural barrier to external elements and dry or dehydrated skin is vulnerable to cracking. This leaves is wide open for pathogens and a host of other issues as I mentioned in my post on Maskne HERE.
Medically, dry skin is also known as Xerosis or Xeroderma which can cause painful scaling, cracked skin. This can really impact daily life. This article is not designed to deal with severe cases and you should seek medical advice if your skin is:
- Open sores from scratching
- Large areas of scaling or peeling skin
So Who Is At Risk of Dry Skin ?
- Over 40: As we age we produce less oil which results in dry skin.
- Diabetics: When Blood Sugars are not managed correctly and remain high, the body will try to excrete them in urine. Excessive urination can cause dehydration leading to dry skin.
- Certain medications e.g. anti-hypertensives, Antihistamines, Diuretics, Laxatives and Antacids.
- Too many hot showers or baths.
- Wood burning stoves or central heading which have a drying effect on the air.
- Harsh Soaps and detergents.
- Living in areas with cold, dry weather conditions.
- Certain medical treatments like chemotherapy.
Ok, So now what can we do?
Start with the basics and work from inside out. Are you drinking enough water? Is your diet varied and does it include lots of fresh fruit, veg and healthy fats? Do you drink excessive amounts of caffeine? Caffeine is also a diuretic and can cause dehydration so balance it out with water through out the day!
How often are you cleansing your skin? What are you using to cleanse your skin? Harsh cleansers including face wipes strip natural moisturising factors and oils so switch to a gentle, hydrating cleanser. Just because a product claims to be a ‘Hot Cloth Cleanser’, please do not use hot water on your face (that is a whole other blog post). Bathing and showering should be short using lukewarm water. Do not rub your skin dry. Leave it slightly damp.
Hydrating Skincare Ingredients for Dry Skin?
Let’s look at three different groups of ingredients commonly used in hydrating skincare products.
- Humectants: Like hyaluronic Acid and Glycerine. These bind water to to the outer layers of skin and need to beused with other products to help retain the water they provide.
- Emollients: Such as Squalane, Ceremides and Fatty Acids. These help with skin barrier health and improve its function.
- Occlusives: Like Petroleum, Beeswax and Mineral Oil. These physically block transepidermal water loss. In my opinion, not best used on the face and while they prevent water loss, they also block pores. Keep these for elbows, feet and layering for the treatment of psorasis.
My Ideal Hydrating Skincare Routine?
- Begin with a cleansing balm to gently dissolve all dirt and makeup. Follow with a hydrating gel or cream cleanser to leave skin cleansed without stripping of natural oils. I personally use Elemis Cleansing Balm and Murad Prebiotic Multi Cleanser.
- Apply hydrating face mask. I have been using the Farmacy Honey Potion Hydrating Mask for three years now and I also love the Peter Thomas Roth Water Cloud Micro Bubbling Hyaluronic Mask.
- Spritz face and neck with a Thermal water spray. These have mineral heavy concentrations which are known to hydrate. I love the Avene Eau Thermal.
- Apply a hyaluronic acid serum. There are so many on the market now to suit all budgets. My two favourites are the Vichy Mineral 89 and Image skincare Total Ageless Pure Hyaluronic Filler.
- Next I layer a hydrating serum. I am currently loving the Kate Sommerville Dermal Quench and the Drunk Elephant B Hydra Intensive Hydrating Serum.
- Use a hydrating face cream. Look for one that has a lot of science behind it and specifically look at the ingredients. I move between Murad Intense Recovery Cream and Augustinus Bader The Cream.
- I regularly treat my skin to a layer of face oil after moisturising on a particularly dry day or after a deep cleanse such as the Elemis Superfood Face oil.
- You can give yourself an extra boost of hydration with a sheet mask just before a special occassion or on a day where you will be wearing heavier makeup. I swear by the Image Skincare Biomolecular Hydrating Recovery Masks and the Wishful Thirst Trap Masks.
So here we have all of my top tips around dry skin.
Let me know what you think? Feel free to share any of your product recommendations on my Instagram HERE.