Dry Skin and How to Overcome
What Is Dry Skin?
Dry, dehydrated skin is described as being flaky, scaling, or dull-looking skin. It may crinkle when pushed or pressed with a finger. Dry skin lacks the lipids that it needs to retain moisture and build a protective shield against external influences. Symptoms of dry skin may be itchy, irritated, sensitive, sore, red, inflamed, cracked skin and /or a feeling of tightness after coming in contact with water.
What Causes Dry Skin?
There are several causes which contribute to dry, dehydrated skin. It may be one core cause, or a combination of any of the following:
Lower sebum production – after puberty and with age, sebum production lowers in skin leading to dry, dehydrated, or unbalanced skin with dry patches. Sebum keeps the skin lubricated, hydrated and protected.
Aging skin – as skin ages, it thins, loses moisture due to trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL), and becomes more dry and dehydrated. This is a normal process, however may be accelerated or intensified due to UV damage, biological factors such as genetic and or mechanical aging such as a result of continually repeated muscle movements i.e. frowning, squinting, smiling which can result in eventual formation of wrinkles.
Dehydration or lifestyle choices – not consuming enough water, poor nutrition choices, poor personal hygiene, excessive stress or lack of regular sleep/insomnia, could all contribute to dehydrated skin.
Damage or removal of lipid layer from skin - the lipids that form the skin’s barrier can be removed / damaged by the use of harsh chemicals. This creates ‘gaps’ in the skin’s barrier and allows water to escape from the epidermis (trans-epidermal water loss also known as TEWL), resulting in the skin become becoming dry and dehydrated.
Overexposure to elements or drying conditions – such as air-conditioning, indoor heating, hot and long showers; or outdoor elements such as low-humidity conditions, high winds, winter, etc.
Overuse of chemicals/synthetics – these strip the skin by removing natural oils, fats and nutrients which protect and keep skin hydrated. Dryness may occur as a result of sensitivity, allergy or irritation to synthetic ingredient(s) such as artificial fragrances, dyes or detergents
Overuse of cosmetics - which form an occlusive layer on the epidermis and don’t allow the skin to breathe and have exposure to oxygen. Petroleum-based ingredients and mineral oil are examples.
Dry skin is caused by a lack of:
· Natural moisturising factors (NMFs) - especially urea, amino acids and lactic acid – that help to bind in water.
· Epidermal lipids such as ceramides, fatty acids and cholesterol which are needed for a healthy skin barrier function.
How to identify different degrees of dry skin
Dry skin ranges from skin that is a little bit drier than normal, through very dry skin to extremely dry skin. The differences can normally be distinguished by:
Mildly dry skin can feel tight, brittle and rough and look dull. Skin elasticity is also low.
Very dry skin
If the dryness is not treated, skin may develop:
• mild scaling or flakiness in patches
• a rough and blotchy appearance (sometimes it appears to be prematurely aged)
• a feeling of tightness
• possible itchiness
It is also more sensitive to irritation, redness and the risk of infection.
Extremely dry skin
Certain areas of the body – particularly hands, feet, elbows and knees – are prone to:
• chapping with a tendency to form rhagades (cracks)
• frequent itchiness
Extremely dry skin is most commonly found on the elderly or on severely dehydrated hands.
Skincare Solutions for Dry Skin
Try to incorporate as many of the following as possible, to relieve, heal and balance dry skin conditions:
Use a gentle, natural-based cleanser - Instead of harsh cleansers, go for unscented, mild cleansers with natural hydrating and soothing ingredients. Look for plant butters or oils for extra hydration, while colloidal oatmeal or calendula work well for sensitive, irritated or itchy dry skin.
Moisturize with Emollients, ideally while skin is still moist - Pat your skin with a towel after you shower or wash your face or hands, leaving skin damp. Apply emollient-rich moisturizers (body cream, lotion or oil) while skin is still dampened to lock in hydration. Shea butter, avocado oil and hemp seed oil offer emollient qualities.
Protect with an Occlusive – to prevent trans-epidermal water loss, or moisture escaping from skin. Meadowfoam oil is an effective occlusive ingredient. Use a sunscreen - It is also best to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily, to protect from the damaging effects of ultraviolet sunlight.
Hydrate with Humectants – which pull moisture from the surrounding environment into skin cells to keep skin hydrated. Panthenol, sodium lactate, and olive squalane are examples of humectants.
Formulating Oil for Dry Skin
As identified above, formulated a solution that contains emollients, occlusive’s and humectants.
A selection of suitable ingredients for Dry Skin include:
Carrier Oils: Avocado, hemp seed, meadowfoam, olive squalane
Essential Oils: Palmarosa, Ylang Ylang, Lavender
High-Performance/Botanical extracts: Sea buckthorn CO2 extract
Avocado oil is deeply penetrating and extremely moisturizing, yet easily absorbed by the skin. It provides intense, lasting moisturizing and nourishment, infusing skin with vitamins A, D and E.
Hemp seed oil promotes healing, softens and calms extremely dry, irritated and itchy skin. It penetrates deeply and is rich in omega fatty acids, proteins and vitamins to nourish and improve the skins barrier function.
Meadowfoam oil is rich in fatty acids, deeply moisturizing and emollient; meadowfoam is a heavier oil which absorbs into skin really fast. It forms a non-greasy-feeling protective layer on the skin which effectively shields skin from the winter elements, while hydrating, healing and delaying the signs of aging related to dehydration and outdoor elements.
Olive squalane is very lightweight and quickly absorbed, so it balances the heavier oils in this serum. It offers humectant, emollient and softening benefits, while boosting cell regeneration and encouraging a glowing complexion.
Sea buckthorn regenerates, repairs and retains moisture, while reducing trans-epidermal water loss. It works particularly well for sensitive, irritated, cracked dry skin, as it offers anti inflammatory, antimicrobial and potent healing qualities.
Lavender stimulates skin cell regeneration and healthy skin growth, while calming irritated, sensitive and chapped areas.
Ylang Ylang balances sebum production. As dry skin has lowered sebum production Ylang Ylang is a good choice as it will stimulate sebum production in this skin type.