Even if you treat your body with care and love, dry skin can be a problem. You may eat well, drink enough water, and exercise regularly—but your skin still needs moisture. If you're looking for ways to soothe dry skin and keep it hydrated, you’re at the right place. But before get into that, let's talk about how dry skin happens in the first place.
What causes dry skin?
Dry skin occurs when there is an excessive amount of water loss from the skin. This can happen for a lot of reasons.
Everyday activities, such as the use of deodorant soaps and harsh cleaning chemicals, can strip the skin of its natural oils and fats. Taking long, hot showers can also cause your skin to become dry. The skin can get even drier if someone lives in an environment that is cold and dry.
Dry skin is a condition that can also be caused by an imbalance in skin oil production.
In most people, dry skin is a result of an increase in sensitivity or decrease in the ability to retain moisture. However, dry skin can also be caused by an imbalance in the natural oil production of the skin itself. For example, if you have oily hair but your face is dry, it's likely that you may have increased sensitivity compared to someone who naturally produces more sebum than you do (sebum being the substance secreted from our pores).
Some common causes for dryness include aging and genetics as well as environmental factors like cold weather or frequent washing with harsh soaps (which strip away protective oils). If left untreated over time it can lead to redness and itchiness which further aggravate already irritated areas such as elbows and knees where there are fewer blood vessels present so, therefore, less oxygen getting through them causing inflammation and flaking.
Who can get extremely dry skin?
There are certain groups of people who are at a greater risk of developing skin that is excessively dry.
- Middle-aged or older: As we become older, our skin generates less sebum, the oil that keeps our skin supple and young. The amount of sebum your body produces decreases substantially by your 40s. After the age of 40, the amount of sebum in your skin continues to fall.
- Certain medications: Statins and diuretics, among others, may have the side effect of causing extremely dry skin.
- Wet work: Using harsh chemicals or repeatedly immersing your hands in water throughout the course of the workday can rob your skin of its barrier function. Hairdressers, nurses, housekeepers, construction workers, chefs, florists, and metalworkers all have a higher likelihood of developing dry skin than the average person.
- Low outside temperature: When the outside temperature drops, the amount of moisture in the air decreases. According to studies, this can cause skin to become extremely dry.
- Deficiency in vitamins or minerals: Skin needs nutrients to stay healthy. A deficiency in vitamin D, vitamin A, niacin, zinc, or iron can result in extremely dry skin.
- Smoking: Cigarettes contain dangerous compounds that hasten the ageing process of your skin, making it drier.
- Several skin diseases, cancer, anorexia, atopic dermatitis, ichthyosis, perioral dermatitis, psoriasis, and seborrheic dermatitis, dialysis, can all result in extremely dry skin.
What can you do to prevent dry skin?
You don't have to buy expensive products for dry skincare -- look in your kitchen for inspiration!
- Use natural products. With all the chemicals we put on our skin, we can’t always be sure what they are or how they affect the body in the long term. If you want to use natural beauty products, look for products labeled “all-natural” or “organic” that have no added dyes, fragrances, or synthetic ingredients.
- Use things you already have. Your kitchen is full of things that make great cosmetics! Milk is a perfect cleanser for oily skin and honey can heal dry patches overnight. Olive oil makes an excellent facial moisturizer and coconut oil will make your lips softer than ever before. Yogurt contains lactic acid which helps remove dead skin cells while also keeping your complexion clear and healthy-looking (this is one reason why it works so well as an exfoliator).
- Make your own moisturizers at home using simple ingredients like apricot or jojoba oil (for oily/combination), and olive or almond oil (for dry/sensitive). These oils are great because they won’t clog pores as some heavy lotions do so there won't be any breakouts! And since they're natural—you don't even need to worry about artificial scents causing irritation either!
Use a gentle cleanser.
The first step in treating dry skin is to use a gentle cleanser. If your skin is very sensitive or irritated, it may be helpful to try an extremely mild cleanser first. If you have oily or combination skin, you might not need a gentle cleanser at all.
If your skin is normal, use something that's right for your complexion and climate (summer or winter). If you're older than 40 years old, consider using a creamier formula with more moisture-rich ingredients like shea butter or jojoba oil instead of a foaming gel cleanser that can often strip the skin of its natural oils.
Use the right moisturizer
To avoid the greasy, slimy feeling that some moisturizers leave behind, look for one that is lightweight and fragrance-free. You want to be sure the moisturizer you’re using is non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores), hypoallergenic (won’t irritate the skin), and non-abrasive (won’t cause redness).
Exfoliate your skin.
You can exfoliate your skin at home in the shower, or with a washcloth and soap. Exfoliating helps to remove dead skin cells and gives you smooth, healthy-looking skin. There are many different kinds of exfoliators that you can try. A word of caution: physical exfoliating scrubs can sometimes be a little abrasive so be extremely gentle and careful for facial skin to avoid causing micro tears.
- salt scrubs - mix one tablespoon of sea salt into two tablespoons of olive oil for a gentle scrub that will leave your skin feeling soft
- sugar rubs - add a teaspoon of sugar to an equal amount of olive oil to make an effective exfoliating paste
Don't forget to use a facial mask
If you've never tried a facial mask, this is the time to do it. A weekly mask will provide your skin with the moisture it needs and reduce inflammation, which will make your skin look more youthful and healthier.
You'll also want to consider what kind of ingredients are in your facial mask. You don't want any harsh chemicals or irritants that could make matters worse! Look for an all-natural recipe made from ingredients like avocado, banana, chick pea flour, potato juice or cucumber juice; they're not only great for dry skin but also won't cause irritation.
Try a humidifier
A humidifier can sometimes provide the skin with extra hydration, which can help with dryness. In general, a humidifier will keep your air moist and comfortable during the winter months when humidity levels are low. They also work well in the summer, when they help keep you cool by keeping you from having to use as much air conditioning. If you live in an arid part of the country—especially one that has recently experienced drought conditions—it's especially important to have a humidifier around for those times when it suddenly rains heavily or gets cold out.
It's important to note that if your house is already very damp because of high humidity levels outside then adding a humidifier may not be necessary at all and will just make things worse!
Meet your dermatologist
Dermatologists advise treatment if you have very dry skin. Without treatment, your chances of contracting another skin disease, such as an infection, are much higher. As a result of long-term scratching, the skin might become chronically irritated.
Also, you have a larger chance of developing food allergies or a skin reaction to an allergen.
While allergies and skin reactions can be managed, they cannot be cured.
From the science of dry skin, to the products that can help, and even to some tips you can try at home, we hope you have found something that will get your skin looking—and more importantly, feeling—great again!
Maintaining good skin is essential. In the fight against bacteria and viruses, your skin is the first line of defence you have. When your skin breaks down from scratching, it can lead to an infection. Even if your skin isn't irritating you, you should use a decent moisturiser on a daily basis.
Maintaining a strong skin barrier every day is one of the greatest methods to avoid dry skin outbreaks. Another vital piece of advice for skin care is to make use of a moisturizing sunscreen on a daily basis in order to protect the skin from damage and dryness.