Dry skin

dry skin

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Skin Issues: dry skin

Dry skin (also called xerosis), is a common condition that occurs in people of all ages. Generally it’s not a serious problem but it can contribute to the appearance of lines and wrinkles, and make you look older than you really are. Dry skin is also more vulnerable to pathogens.

Causes of dry skin

In normal skin, the sebaceous glands—oil-producing glands—maintain a healthy level of natural skin oil called sebum. This lubricates the skin and keeps it hydrated by preventing excessive water loss or excessive water absorption. Normal skin has a supple feel and looks moist, but not greasy.
Hyaluronic acid is a natural substance distributed widely throughout our bodies, including our skin. It is involved in tissue repair and skin moisturization. The skin’s content of hyaluronic acid decreases as the years pass.
The skin’s natural barrier is a an outer layer of fatty substances (lipids) that shields skin cells from harmful materials while allowing moisture and nutrients to enter. Dry skin occurs when the lipid barrier becomes damaged. When skin cells are exposed, they lose water to the atmosphere, and the skin’s appearance deteriorates. The effect is made worse if there is also a decrease in sebum production.

Protecting the skin’s natural barrier and oils

Avoid regular, harsh scrubbing

You do not necessarily need to scrub your skin with a brush, loofah or exfoliating gloves to get it clean. Friction strips the skin and enhances the dryness. Be gentle with your skin. Use your hands or a soft washcloth instead.

Take shorter, cooler baths and showers

Prolonged bathing in hot water can remove the natural oils from the skin. The longer you stay in the bath or shower, the more you dry out your skin. To guard against this problem bathe in lukewarm water rather than hot water, and keep your showers and baths short. Many people like to add bath oils to their bathwater.

Use soap-free cleansers

Washing with harsh soaps removes your skin’s natural moisture barrier. Instead, use a mild, fragrance-free cleanser that moisturizes as it removes grime. Commercial products are available in the form of bars or liquids. If your skin is dry, select a product that is particularly designed for dry skin.

Make your own soap-free cleansers at home. Visit our ‘Recipes’ section, page 249 of ‘Beauty: The Ultimate Cosmetic Makeover Guide. Book 1: Face and Skin’.

Use moisturizer after bathing

When you take a shower, your epidermis absorbs some water and after the shower your skin will be covered with moisture. Rubbing yourself dry with a towel straight afterwards strips away that moisture, and any water that was absorbed by the skin will be lost to evaporation if you do not seal it in.
It is not only the skin on your face that needs hydration, but the skin on your body too. To seal in moisture and add extra, apply a deep-moisturizing cream or body-lotion all over the body. Choose products with rich, emollient ingredients such as shea butter, cocoa butter, or jojoba oil. Scrubbing your body with exfoliating gloves while showering will remove dead skin cells and allow the after-shower lotion to penetrate more easily.

Make your own skin moisturizers at home. Visit our ‘Recipes’ section, page 249 of ‘Beauty: The Ultimate Cosmetic Makeover Guide. Book 1: Face and Skin’.
Increase humidity when temperatures are very high or low
In cold weather, when the temperature drops, so does the air’s humidity level. Parched air dries out the skin. Turning up indoor heating does not fix the problem because high temperatures drive even more moisture from the air, and therefore from your skin.
To solve this problem, install a humidifier in your home to keep air moist. Set humidity at a constant 45% to 55%, and the temperature to around 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit). When going outdoors, apply a moisture barrier cream or ointment to your lips and face. Protect your neck and hands with a scarf and gloves.

Combat aging with hyaluronic acid

Hyaluronic acid exists as a ‘filling material’ in most of our connective tissues–especially the skin. It protects the skin, stabilizes the skin’s structure and provides elasticity.
As the skin on your face, your neck, your décolletage and your hands loses hyaluronic acid and dries out, it becomes susceptible to the formation of wrinkles and lines. Good skin hydration is essential to your well-being and appearance.
Hyaluronic acid acts as a skin hydrating agent when injected by a skilled technician. Hydration injectable therapy involves micro injections of this substance to boost your skin’s moisture and suppleness from within. Learn more in our section on hydrating dermal fillers (page 159 of ‘Beauty: The Ultimate Cosmetic Makeover Guide. Book 1: Face and Skin’).

Use skincare products containing ammonium lactate and urea

Ammonium lactate is a moisturizer. Urea loosens thick or scaly skin cells and allows them to shed. The combination of ammonium lactate and urea, applied to the skin, is used to treat rough or scaly skin caused by such conditions as eczema or psoriasis. This formulation will also help soften cracked skin or calluses. Protect the skin from sunlight and do not use ammonium lactate on the face.

Drink sufficient water

Most of the moisture in your skin  is supplied by the water you drink. It is recommended that you drink around seven to eight glasses of water every day (you can drink it in the form of herbal or green tea, if you wish) to ensure your skin stays well hydrated.

Exfoliate – but not too much

Scrubbing is fine, and even desirable, as long as it is not too frequent or too harsh. In fact, a regular once-a-week scrub is a great way to exfoliate (i.e. remove dead skin cells from your face and body), so that your moisturizers and serums can sink in and do their job. Never rub too hard or exfoliate more than about twice a week at the most, or you will damage your skin’s natural barrier and end up with dry skin.

Nourish your skin

  • Choose a healthy diet and lifestyle. A balanced diet of fresh, wholesome food is the best way to keep your skin healthy. Feed your body with all the vitamins, minerals and fatty acids to help your skin stay hydrated.
    Lifestyle habits that can harm and dry out your skin include smoking, drinking alcohol in excess, and consuming large amounts of caffeine (e.g. in coffee, chocolate or soft drinks). As time passes the cumulative effects of these habits will show up as wrinkles and sagging skin.
  • Use a vitamin C serum. Choose skincare products that contain Vitamin C, if possible. This powerful antioxidant not only protects your skin from harmful environmental factors, it also encourages collagen production. With enough collagen, your skin will stay plump and elastic, locking in its own moisture for its freshest, healthiest look possible.  Make your own vitamin C serum at home. Visit our ‘Recipes’ section (page 249 of ‘Beauty: The Ultimate Cosmetic Makeover Guide. Book 1: Face and Skin’).
  • Use a vitamin A serum. Skin that lacks vitamin A (retinol) can become scaly and dry. Choose skincare products contain that retinol–a form of vitamin A–and apply them at night. Retinol can make your skin sun-sensitive, so wear sunscreen during the day. Tretinoin (the carboxylic acid form of vitamin A) is considered the best topical therapy for improving fine facial wrinkles, but it is available only on prescription. Make your own vitamin A serum at home. Visit our “Recipes” section (page 249 of ‘Beauty: The Ultimate Cosmetic Makeover Guide. Book 1: Face and Skin’).

Balance your hormones

Dry skin can be caused by hormone imbalances. Hormone levels are influenced by factors such as nutrition, diet, lifestyle, exercise, stress, emotions, age and ovulation.
If you think you are suffering from a hormonal imbalance, consult your doctor. It is important to obtain a professional diagnosis and medical advice on treatment options.
A nutritious, balanced diet is crucial to promote normal hormone levels. Avoid processed foods – particularly refined sugars. A diet that includes wholegrains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables will maintain good health and help regulate hormone production.

Avoid over-exposure to sunlight

Limiting your skins exposure to damaging environmental factors can do much to improve its health and keep it hydrated. The skin’s moisture levels can be harmed by extreme heat or cold, but it is generally the ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunlight that cause the most damage. UV damage is cumulative.
Even small amounts of solar radiation penetrating the skin day by day can, over time, wreak havoc with your moisture levels. Protect your skin from the sun by using sunscreens and appropriate clothing.
Protect it, too, from wind, heat, cold and air pollution.

Be aware of your skin type

Is your skin dry or oily?
Dry skin can appear like oily skin. Skin can take on an ‘oily’ look when affected by hormones, excessive dryness, poor diet or emotional stress. This shiny or greasy look occurs when sebaceous glands produce more sebum than normal. Many cases of ‘oily skin’ are really instances of dry skin, which the skin tries to fix by increasing sebum production.
Both oily skin and dry skin often arise from many of the same basic causes. You might assume that the best remedy for this oily appearance is a decrease in hydration–for example by using de-greasing products on your skin every day in combination with scrubs and/or peels (which strip away the skin’s lipid barrier) followed by ‘lightweight’ skin moisturizers.
This approach, however, can do more harm than good. Your aim should not be to replace the skin’s natural hydration process, but to regain its natural balance. Moisturizers, cleansers and other skin care products used together can correct the cause of the oily appearance and return the skin to a more normal state.
Sensitive skin
Sensitive, allergic or ‘reactive’ skin responds adversely to even minor irritants by producing redness, inflammation, hives and/or pimple breakouts. Sensitive skin may be a result of a diamine oxidase enzyme deficiency, which causes histamine intolerance. It may also arise from nutritional deficiencies, mental stress or skin injury.
Learn more about histamine intolerance at www.low-histamine.com or read the book, ‘Is Food Making You Sick? The Strictly Low Histamine Diet’.

Page Hierarchy: Dry skin