Dry skin patches are oh so irritating… especially when they happen on your face. They look flaky, red and can be sensitive. They can suck your confidence. Clump your foundation. Be painful, itchy and ageing.
Dry skin patches are a sign your skin health is low.
Do nothing and your dry skin patches will get worse. Choose to take action and your skin health battery can be happily topped back to full.
Want to know how? Come learn all my friend…
What do Dry Patches of Skin Mean?
Your skin is a very careful balance of water and oil. Water keeps your skin hydrated and oil helps lock that hydration in. Most people make this very common mistake when trying to get rid of their dry skin patches – they try to add back more water/hydration/serums.
Which makes absolute sense if you’re a skincare newbie. When you have a dry throat you drink water, when your garden is browning you get the hose out, to rehydrate dried fruit and beans you add back water.
When things are dry, adding back water makes sense.
Until it happens to your skin.
Trying to treat your dry skin patches with water will only make them worse.
See, when your skin is dry, it’s actually low in oil. Dry skin patches are a sign your skin’s not making enough sebum – the naturally moisturising oil your skin makes when healthy. This lack of oil is causing you dry skin patches because without oil to seal in skin hydration, water is quickly evaporating away.
What Causes Dry Patches of Skin?
Now you know the cause of your dry skin patches – missing oil, you’ll want to know all the ways your current skincare routine could be stealing it. Yes, you read this right, skincare that you’re using right now could in fact be the very cause of your dry skin patches.
The danger areas are these products;
- Face wash
- Shower gel
- Non pH balanced skincare
- Alcohol high skincare – common culprits are your face toner or spot treatments
- Highly fragranced skincare
Are you using products which tick one or more of these boxes? If so, you’re using skincare which is causing, aggravating and worsening your dry skin patches. This is why and what to do about it…
Dry Skin Patches Caused by Face Wash
Having dry skin patches on your face is a very strong signal you’re using a not-good-for-your-skin face wash. Dry patches on your face are caused by the very same biology change causing them on your body – a lack of oil. When oil’s taken away, your skin’s barrier function goes down and your risk of dry skin patches goes up.
Traditional face washes are designed to take away oil and water from your skin. They’re made this way so they can dissolve up even waterproof makeup. Trouble is they’re too good at removing stuff and that includes your skin’s natural oils.
You’ll probably have heard of one oil gobbler which is a common ingredient in face wash – sodium lauryl sulphate or SLS for short.
Using a face wash with SLS will cause you dry skin patches because;
- SLS washes away your skin’s oil
- SLS can wiggle its way in-between your skin cells making holes in your skin’s barrier function
How to get rid of dry skin patches on your face;
- Switch to an SLS free, pH balanced cleanser like this one or even our own Honesty Protect Nourishing Cleanse Balm
- Wash your face just once a day. Yes really!
Dry Skin Patches Caused by Shower Gel
You guessed it my fellow skin savvy, shower gel can cause you dry skin patches for the exact same reason face wash will… because face wash and shower gel are extremely similar products with extremely similar ingredients.
Shower gel is an even more common cause of dry skin patches especially dry skin patches on legs. Using a shower gel to shave with? Then it’s even more important to switch your shower gel now.
Shower gels are also very commonly pH high, meaning they have a pH which is much higher than your skin’s pH. We’ll chat all about this very soon.
How to get rid of dry skin patches on your legs, arms and body;
- Switch to an SLS free, pH balanced shower gel like this one
- Use less shower gel
- Have cooler, shorter showers because hot water eats away your skin’s oils quickly
How to Fix Dry Skin Patches Caused by Soap
Soap my friend is the devil. Even newer and sensitive looking kinds. Soap can cause you dry skin patches for the very same reasons as face wash and shower gel, however where it really powers-up is in it’s very mismatched pH level.
When your skin is healthy aka it doesn’t have dry patches, it has a pH between 4.2-5.6.
Soap can have a pH of 12.
On the pH ruler of 0-14, this makes soap and your skin arch enemies. Using a high pH soap just once, immediately changes your skin’s pH. After the first time you use it, your skin might stay pH changed for a few hours, the more times you use it, the more likely it is your skin will be teased permanently outside its healthy pH range.
— Cheryl Woodman (@HonestyForSkin) 18 December 2017
This matters because your skin’s barrier function, works best at pH 4.2-5.6. Imagine being asked to wear winter woollies in the desert at the peak of summer. A lot would go wrong. Your skin is the same, it needs the right pH level to help it make the right water locking skin oils. When skin pH goes wrong dry skin patches pounce.
How to get rid of dry skin patches caused by soap;
- Stop using soap now. Ditch it forever and switch to this pH balanced cleanser
- Use cooler water when showering and bathing
Dry Skin Patches Caused by Non-pH Balanced Skincare
If pH is a whole new concept to you, know this, only things with water in them have a pH. This means your moisturiser, which is a mix of water and oils, could be a key danger product.
There are 2 ways you can help fix this;
- Switch to a pH similar dry skin repairing moisturiser like this one – hint this has a lot of helpful barrier repairing ingredients, if you’re serious about getting rid of dry skin patches, it’s a must
- Look for the phrase pH balanced on all skincare
Pro-tip: Water from your bathroom tap is definitely not pH balanced to your skin. In fact it’s anywhere from 7 if you have soft water to over 8.5 if you have hard water. Use pH balanced skincare quickly after washing to help reset your skin’s pH happy place.
How Alcohol In Your Skincare Is Causing You Dry Skin Patches
Did you know your skincare could contain alcohol?… alcohol my friend is a solvent, it cuts through grease like a hot knife through butter. It’s how kitchen cleaners work and sometimes you’ll also find it in your skincare.
Alcohol is used in your skincare for lots of reasons;
- To give your skin a tight, tingly feeling
- To make your moisturiser thinner and quickly absorbing
- To dry out spots
While some of these reasons might be tempting, using alcohol on your skin is never healthy. Use alcohol on your skin and you’re going to be removing your skin’s natural oils.
Alcohol is a very common ingredient in;
- Face toners or face mists
- Spot treatment products
But you’ll also find it in some moisturisers too!
How to get rid of dry skin patches;
- Avoid skincare products with alcohol – here’s how
- Ditch products which give your skin a tight tingly feeling
Dry Skin Patches Caused by Fragrance in Your Skincare
Skincare that smells good can feel like luxury… and some skincare brands base this as their number 1 aim. But, what’s yummy to your nose, is usually not so yummy to your skin. Fragrance ingredients are very similar to alcohol meaning they can strip through the oil on your skin. But what’s really at play here, is irritation.
Fragrance, essential oils and anything which smells very strongly, is guaranteed to contain known irritants, allergens and sensitsers. These ingredients disturb the biology of your skin. Even natural essential oils are a very well-known culprit.
Essential oils contain known allergens, ingredients you’ll find listed on the bottom of an ingredients list, ingredients like citral, limonene and linalool. These ingredients are so tiny, they absorb straight through your oily skin barrier and into places they shouldn’t be. They’re like a bailiff with their foot through the door… you don’t want to let them in, but once they’re in, they’re in.
When allergens get access to your skin, your skin health aka your barrier function goes down and your risk of dry skin patches goes up.
How to get rid of dry skin patches;
- Avoid strong-smelling skincare
- Avoid essential oils in skincare
- Choose fragrance free skincare ranges
How to Get Rid of Dry Skin Patches
My friend, getting rid of your dry skin patches is about kicking out offending skincare and inviting in more oils, balms and richly conditioning moisturisers.
Which offending skincare steps are you using at this very minute? Shower gel? Face wash? Alcohol high skincare?
The first step to waving your dry skin patches goodbye is replacing these with skin friendly alternates.
The second step is to add in richly conditioning oils, balms and moisturisers to replace the oil your skin is lacking.
For dry skin patches on face try;
- A skin identical face oil like The Ordinary’s 100% Plant Derived Squalane £5.50/30ml
- A dry skin balm like The Lanolips 101 Ointment £10.99/15g or Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant £17/30ml
- An intensive dry skin moisturiser like First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Cream £24/170g
For dry skin patches on legs, arms or body try;
A richly conditioning and oil replenishing body oil like Palmer’s Coconut Oil Formula Body Oil £7.35/150ml
- The same dry skin balm as above used as a spot treatment for dry skin patches on legs, arms or body
- And if body oil just isn’t your thing, choose a butter and oil packed body moisturiser like Palmer’s Coconut Oil Formula Body Lotion £4.19/250ml
There you have it my friend, you now have all you need to know to go get rid of your dry skin patches. If you ditch the right skincare offenders and add in the right oil replenishing oils, balms and moisturisers even the most persistent of dry skin patches should be healed and gone within months.
How will you be changing your skincare routine? What’s a ditch and what’s a switch? Have questions? Come chat with me in the comments below…
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who’s more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim is to help you care for your skin in the best ways possible. She’s founder of the natural & fragrance free skincare brand Honesty while also hosting 1 to 1 skincare coaching to help you get your best skin yet. Find out more here.