Dry skin – it makes foundation look like ice frosting, it causes you to scratch itchy skin patches in a very non-sexy way and lastly it’s sensitive – it causes stingy sensations that make you wonder if an invisible wasp visited your face for a very quick nibble.
No wonder you want to get rid of it.
If you have dry skin – choosing moisturisers designed for a dry-skin type, may not cut-it.
Often, the dry-normal-oily choices of a specific skincare range, make only small adjustments to their formulas. A tad more richness is popped in for dry skin types and a tad more is taken out for oily-combination ones. It’s like adjusting a cake recipe for sugar-free claims by removing the sugar and replacing it with – nothing. Your taste buds still want to be stimulated, yet you want to say no to refined sugars. Honey, apple puree, raisins, maple syrup – there’s lots of yummy natural alternatives – use them.
A very effective strategy for treating your dry skin is to use skincare with ingredients identical to ones found in your skin’s natural moisturizing factor. Not sure what that is? I’ve got your back – by the end of this article, i promise you’ll know exactly what your natural moisturizing factor is, exactly how to find skincare that will help you replace it and exactly how to kick-butt to the causes of dry skin.
Let’s skedaddle-in my friend…
The Causes of Dry Skin
Itchy dry skin has many causes. Look at your skin under a microscope and most of the time, the changes a scientist (or microscope-ee) will see are similar – reduced barrier function, increased trans-epidermal water loss, lack of skin lipids (sebum)… the list goes on. But, just like ‘the big apple’ – there’s one location and many ways to get there. Sea, land, air and… teleportation?
It’s important to learn the cause of your dry skin – because without knowing this, you’re counselling an issue without removing the cause. That requires ongoing therapy my friend… why invest in life-long counsel when you could treat existing dry skin whilst also removing its root cause.
Prevention and cure.
Take a look at the below, which do you suspect as the cause of your dry skin patches?
- Alcohol in your skincare (read this to learn about the good and bad kinds)
- Over-washing / Over-cleansing
- Allergy, aka irritant contact dermatitis – often caused by fragrance in skincare
- Eczema – hereditary
- Humidity changes (weather, seasons, air conditioning, central heating…)
- Hard water
- Medications / some clinically prescribed skincare e.g. Retin-A
- Sun exposure / UV damage
- Other dry skin conditions e.g. psoriasis
- Poor diet
- Stress induced – causing a weakening of your skin structure and immune system
Does your dry skin cause shine out from above? That is awesome, take it by the hand and walk it to bed. If it’s an easy avoid e.g. over-washing – spectacular. If it’s not e.g. genetically caused eczema, we’ll soon have you a treatment plan for booting it.
Do You Have a Dry Skin Condition?
While many causes of dry skin are controllable, solvable and completely bootable e.g. over-cleansing, irritant contact dermatitis and alcohol in your skincare, others may be defined as dry skin conditions e.g. eczema.
Again, it’s worth pointing out, if you have eczema it may still be a solvable variety – some forms of eczema are provoked by allergens e.g. fragrance or pollen – they’re easily solved when the cause is removed.
On the other side of our dry-skin fence is hereditary eczema. A condition caused by genetic mutation. A DNA change that programs skin with a glitch. Every time skin comes to make natural moisturizing factor – it begins to re-enact one of those ‘your mind tells you to run, but your body tells you it’s jelly’ dreams. Skin wants to be moisturised, supple and hydrated, but it doesn’t have the pre-loaded program to tell it how to get there.
Technically this is referred to as filaggrin gene mutation.
If that means nothing – do not worry. I’m here to guide you through.
Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF)
Filaggrin genes are a special kind of gene holding the ‘secret code’ for making a protein known as filaggrin. Inventive name ‘eh. There are lots of proteins found in your skin and all have very different jobs. Filaggrin is a multi-tasker, it does a few things, but one of the most important comes in it’s final-act – making your skin’s natural moisturizing factor.
Your filaggrin proteins know how to reinvent themselves, when their life-cycle is up, they’re broken down by skin enzymes into natural moisturizing factor. They’re recycled, re-used and re-invented into ingredients that are just as important. Ingredients helping you to avoid dry skin.
Being a skin savvy, you might recognize some of these ingredients, we have…
- Amino acids
- Ions e.g. calcium (this is important for normal skin desquamation aka exfoliation – helps to avoid dry skin patches)
- Pyrrolidone carboxylic acid (PCA)
- Lactates – including lactic acid
- Sugars, inorganic acids, peptides
- Ammonia, uric acid, glucosamines, creatinine
The ingredients of your skin’s natural moisturizing factor are very skilled at attracting water molecules and locking-them-down. While free-water i.e. water that is just hanging around, dehydrates your skin, bound water – moisturises and hydrates.
— Cheryl Woodman (@HonestyForSkin) 8 June 2017
Without adequate natural moisturizing factor, skin struggles to stay hydrated. With a healthy natural moisturizing factor, skin remains supple, hydrated and best of all – youthful.
The ingredients of your skin’s natural moisturizing factor go a hell-of-a lot further that this… for example, lactic acid also helps your skin to synthesis lubricating, moisturising oils such as ceramides.
The bottom line – your skin’s natural moisturizing factor is very important, when it’s damaged by over-washing, UV exposure or more – dry skin is never far behind.
How to Get Rid of Your Dry Skin
…and we’re here. The best bit ‘eh. The part of your skin story when you ride off into the sunset with Jamie Dornan and live happily ever after. Here at Honesty we often talk about using skin-identical ingredients, an approach which works with your skin to tackle skin conditions effectively, sensitively and knowingly.
In the treatment of your dry skin, we’re taking this approach one-step further. We’re being very specific about the type of skin-identical ingredients that will have the best effect.
Skin-identical ingredients found in your skin’s natural moisturising factor.
…and the ingredients most often found are;
- Amino acids
- Sodium PCA
But, you don’t want to be trawling the ingredients lists ‘eh – that’s what I’m here for, take your pick of these NMF containing skincare products;
For dry skin on hands;
- DU’IT Tough Hands Intensive Repair (£8/150g) – contains urea, lactic acid and sodium PCA
For dry skin on face;
- The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA (£4.90/30ml) – contains amino acids, urea, sodium PCA, lactates
- Eucerin Dry Skin Replenishing Face Cream Night 5% Urea (£12/50ml)
For dry skin on body;
- AMELIORATE Skin Smoothing Body Lotion (£14.50/100ml) – contains lactic acid with small amounts of urea and an amino acid called serine
- Eucerin Dry Skin Replenishing Cream 5% Urea with Lactate & Carnitine (£9.50/75ml)
- La Roche-Posay Iso Urea Lait (£15/200ml)
- Twinlab, Na-PCA with Aloe Vera, For Face and Body (£14/230ml) – contains sodium PCA
Natural dry skin treatments;
- Gallinée La Culture Body Milk (£28/200ml) – contains lactic acid and an amino acid named arginine
NOTE: This is an active list, when new NMF containing moisturisers are launched (or brought to my attention) I will be adding them to this list. Be sure to keep me bookmarked or pinned for future dry skin rescue.
So, my friend, are you ready to replenish your dry skin by treating it to an NMF top-up? Have you tried these products before? Do you have questions? I’m here for you, chat to 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.