As a Pharmacist, I spent a surprising chunk of my time talking about dry skin - because dry skin affects almost everyone at some point.
It's for this reason that I put so much time and effort into formulating the best possible products to give dry skin the boot.
And nothing triggers dry skin quite like Winter ... So let's learn all about dry skin.
WHAT IS DRY SKIN?
Technically, dry skin is due to an imbalance between oil production and water loss. This means that your body produces less oil than it needs, causing your skin to become dehydrated - Dehydrating or drying literally means losing water.
What? You produce less oil which causes you to lose more water. You might be shaking your head in confusion, so please let me explain.
Your skin is your body’s largest organ and it has a tough job. Your skin works 24/7 as your personal bouncer to keep the bad guys out such as dirt, germs, pollution, poisons etc.. the list goes on. In addition to keeping the bad guys out and to keep every cell in your body working and helping your skin look fabulous, it also needs to keep the good guys in, such as water, blood etc.
And how does your skin keep the moisture in? By constantly producing and secreting tiny droplets of oil which coat your skin, and then the water is unable to pass through that dewy, invisible coating. Without your skin, you would just dry out completely.
What are the consequences of dry skin?
Dry skin can lead to other issues including cracked and chapped lips, itchiness and even eczema. It can affect your appearance. Dry skin can make your face appear older than it really is. This is because the outer layer of skin thins with age, making it appear thinner and wrinklier.
What does dry skin look like?
You may see skin starting to look dull, flaky and chalky. As dry skin gets worse, it may get red, irritated, cracked and bumpy. Other than a visual guide, you can generally ‘feel’ when your skin is dry both by touch and sensation. It appears less ‘dewy’ and moist and often has a general feeling of tightness. You may also find your makeup applies differently to your skin, less consistent in overall texture and flaky.
UNDERSTANDING WHAT CAUSES DRY SKIN.
There are several reasons why your skin might produce less oil, including winter, hormonal changes, medication, age, and common environmental factors. Let’s dive right in …
Why does Winter make my skin dry?
Our routines change during the colder months as we crave warmth. The winter chill has us cranking up our heaters. Throw in icy winds and lowered humidity, all of these factors strip the skin of moisture.
The desire for warmth can drive you to enjoy long, hot showers. Comforting, yes. Good for your skin, no way! Steam and heat opens your pores, allowing your precious hydration out faster.
In addition, sickness is extremely dehydrating. And winter 'tis the season for colds and flu.
And quite simply, we drink less fluids during the colder months, compared to summer.
YOUR ENVIRONMENT AND YOUR SKIN
Your home and workplace can dramatically dry out your skin. In winter it can be tempting to sit right in front of the heater. Please don't. It is a disaster for your skin. (Rather pop on another layer of clothing. At the moment, I am in love with my cosy bedsocks. Thank you, Peter Alexander.). And run a humidifier in your office, particularly if the heating runs all day. It will make a big impact.
Is your bedroom drying out your skin?
It could be! Here's a quickie experiment to find out:
You will need a hand towel and a full cup of water.
- For the next two nights before you go to bed, soak the towel with the water and hang it up in your bedroom.
- One night have the heater on, as usual. The other night, have the heater off.
- Each morning, see how dry the towel is. (In technical terms, how much water evaporated out of the towel?) Did the towel dry out more completely on the heated night? Your skin was subject to the same evaporative forces as the wet towel.
- For extra marks, try this again a third night - this time with no heater and a humidifier running right next to the hanging towel.
What do we learn from this experiment? Quite simply that your bedroom where you spend 8 hours a day is very drying on your skin!
How can I make my bedroom more skin friendly?
- Try to avoid sleeping with a heater on. An extra layer of clothing is much kinder to your skin than a heater. If there is no choice and you need heating in your room, choose a heater that doesn't blow hot air, it will be less drying.
- Run a humidifier overnight. Your skin, nasal passages and throat will thank you. This is an inexpensive beauty tool, with a huge pay-out.
- Moisturise your skin really well before you go to bed
I started a new medicine and my skin is suddenly so dry.
Many medications can affect your skin, causing it to dry out. Obvious examples are some blood pressure medicines which make you pee a lot. If you have started a new drug and noticed dry skin symptoms, here is what to do. Firstly, increase your water intake and follow the tips below to bring your dry skin back into balance. And don't freak out straight away. Often your body will adjust to the new medicine after a few weeks and you will not be as dry.
Why is my skin getting drier as I get older?
Age certainly has an impact on our skin's moisture holding capacity. As we age, our oil glands produce less oil and cell renewal slows, causing our skin to be drier and more 'dull' in appearance.
Why are my hormones making my skin dry?
When we we think of Hormonal impact on skin, our mind immediately jumps to the excess oiliness of puberty. But dramatic hormonal shifts can also dry out your skin. The most common example of this would be during menopause when reduced Oestrogen levels commonly results in very dry skin. Pregnancy and Fertility Treatments can make your skin go either way.
HOW CAN I PREVENT DRY SKIN?
Prevention is the cure! Understanding that sometimes external environmental factors, including aging, stress, hormones etc. may cause your dry skin, approach prevention from these two angles:
- Firstly, increase your water intake, so that you have more water in your system before Winter has its wicked way with your skin.
- Secondly, moisturise, moisturise, moisturise. And not just your face. In the drying months of winter, the large surface of your skin offers a lot of dehydrating opportunity so keep your whole body well moisturised.
HOW TO TREAT DRY SKIN EFFECTIVELY? (8 TOP TIPS)
There are several things you can do to treat dry skin:
- Moisturise using the richest moisturiser you can find.
- Look for super-hydrating ingredients like Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter and Jojoba Oil, which will completely slip into your skin for long-lasting hydration. Glycerine and Hyaluronic Acid behave like little sponges, holding extra water in your skin.
- Avoid mineral oil (otherwise known as petrolatum, petroleum jelly or petrolatum), lanolin and products with a lot of silicones in them (ingredients which end in 'ethicone', like dimethicone). These ingredients are there to give products a lovely, rich hand feel. They also make your skin feel smooth to the touch as they sit on the surface. In reality, they but they will not provide as much moisturising benefit as they literally can't absorb into your skin, where you need them.
- Avoid harsh super-foamy soaps and cleansers as these products strip away natural oils from your skin. Instead, choose milder cleansers that won’t irritate your skin. Try a No Rinse Cleanser that doesn't need to be rinsed off with water (which dries your skin even more). You will hydrate while you cleanse. And use low foaming body washes. Lovely thick suds strip off your body's protective oils too.
5. Avoid super-foamy shampoos too. Don’t forget that your shampoo runs all over your body. (Unless you are lucky enough to only get your hair washed at the salon)
6. Add an exfoliating scrub once or twice per week to remove dead skin cells and improve circulation. Your moisturiser will then be absorbing into your skin, instead of into the dead skin cells sitting on the surface of your skin.
7. Patting (rather than rubbing) yourself dry after bathing can help hold moisture in your skin. And a rich moisturiser applied liberally, immediately after bathing, will absorb into your skin so much better than on dry, cool skin.
8. And moisturise some more, following up with a protective oil-based serum to seal it all in.
HOW TO CURE DRY SKIN OVERNIGHT? (QED LIFE HACK)
I remember in Primary School being advised by a classmate that a great way to cram for a test was to sleep with my study notes under my pillow. It didn't work. This QED life hack requires about as much effort but actually works.
My absolute must during Winter is to adopt the practice of “Slugging” 3 times a week. It is an easy-peasy way to infuse your skin with a ton of much-needed hydration. and allow it to work its magic on your skin whilst you sleep. You wake with noticeably hydrated and dewy skin in the morning. What is Slugging? Read about it here.
WHAT ARE THE BEST PRODUCTS FOR DRY SKIN?
If you suffer from dry skin, you need to consider two factors. 1. Don't strip your skin of its protective oils. 2. Add as much moisture as possible.
And there are products available that can help. Avoid stripping your skin by choosing low foaming body washes and no-rinse cleansers. And add as much moisture as possible by exfoliating away the dead skin cells and then following up with a rich moisturiser. And choose a great oil-based serum to go over your moisturiser and seal in all the goodness.
SHOP THE PRODUCTS RECOMMENDED FOR DRY SKIN:
- Best Super Rich Day Cream: Wrinkle Rewind Day Cream Ultra-Rich
- Best Moisture Boosting moisturiser for very dry or very sensitive skin: Ultra-Sensitive Face Balm
- Best Product for night-time slugging: Ultra-Sensitive Face Balm
- Best cleansers which treat while they cleanse: Range of No Rinse Cleansers
- Best Hydrating Cleanser for very sensitive skin: Ultra-Sensitive Treatment Cleansing Oil
- Best Hydrating Body Exfoliator: The Body Exfoliator
- Best Gentle Exfoliator: Wrinkle Rewind Exfoliator
- Best Lusciously Hydrating Body Cream: The Body Cream
- Best Hydration 'locking in' Serum: Wrinkle Rewind Repair Serum
- Best Low-Foaming Body Wash: The Body Cleanser
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