Most of us have suffered from DRY SKIN at some point. It could have been the over excitement of seeing the sun, or THE change from summer to winter when the central heating gets cranked up! Sometimes that dry skin hangs around, and we’re just not sure how to get it back to feeling its normal self again. If you have a thing or 2 to tell your dry skin, then this post is most definitely for you my dear! Let’s get started on the 4 reasons for your dry skin and the 4 WAYS to get RID of dry skin.
1. REDUCE SKINS WATER LOSS (TEWL – TRANSEPIDERMAL WATER LOSS)
The number 1 cause of dry skin is that your skin has let its defences down. Skin has its very own raincoat, that it wears AT ALL times. This raincoat is what keeps nasty’s OUT. It stops skin infections, it defends against virus and bacteria’s and it keeps skin hydrated! There are so many everyday things we handle, that if it wasn’t for our skin barrier would cause us a lot of pain and damage. Think of cutting a lemon, all that acid lemon juice gets squeezed out all over your hand. Skin with its defence raincoat on says ‘no problem!’, skin without it (think of a paper cut, or a side-splinter nail that you’ve pulled out), goes ‘YEESH!!! OWCH, THAT HURTS!’. That my lovelies is the power of your skin raincoat! Not too bad ‘ey!
You can think of the skin raincoat as your sebum (the oily layer) on your skin. It’s made of fats. You might recognise some of their names – Ceramides, Cholesterol and Fatty acids. Normal skin has the balance of these it needs to get a full-proof skin raincoat. That means normally skin can hold onto its water, keeping it soft, supple and healthy looking. Dry skin has a hole or 2 in its skin raincoat, the balance of fats isn’t quite right. Because of this dry skin types will LOSE water from their skin MUCH more quickly than normal skin types. That means the FIRST thing to do to get rid of dry skin, is to use something that will temporarily give skin back its raincoat.
This brings us to what is considered as the ‘GOLD’ standard of ingredients that help to stop water from leaving your skin. It might be called gold, but it’s not that elusive or glamorous. This water-stopper is called Petrolatum. You might know it as Vaseline, they have a nifty demo on their website of HOW well petrolatum STOPS water from leaving anything. Imagine picking a leaf from a tree, after a day, it’s going to have curled up and gone all dry and flaky (a bit like dry skin ‘ey!), then take the same leaf, and coat it in petrolatum. That leaf stays leaf shape like, and freshly picked looking! As well as Petrolatum, a lot of natural oils are also effective at giving skin a temporary raincoat!
PRO-TIP: While Petrolatum will help your skin to hold onto water, it will not ‘re-condition’ skin. It’s a great idea to also use some natural oils along-side that can help improve the condition of your visible skin layers by lending them their yummy vitamins, fatty acids and minerals!
2. AVOID IRRITANTS AND ALLERGENS
The number 2 way to get rid of dry skin, is to avoid ‘at all costs’ skin irritants and allergens. This sounds like a no-brainer, but when you take a closer look at skincare there are quite a few irritants and allergens found in those beautiful bottles! The main culprit is FRAGRANCE, parfum or essential oils. This is bitter-sweet because they smell so YUMMY! Plus there are also lots of studies to show that breathing in essential oils has beneficial effects. All the way from helping you relax to improving memory! If you are a dry skin sufferer, your perfect solution could be to get rid of them from your skincare, and snuggle down to a lovely essential oil diffuser instead!
Avoiding irritants and allergens will help dry skin no-end. By avoiding irritants and allergens you give skin a chance to heal itself. Skin gets the ‘me time’ it needed and gets to focus on repairing itself instead of wording off intruders.
If you have a normal skin type, then because skin has its full raincoat intact, ingredients like essential oils might disturb the raincoat temporarily, but skin has what it needs to ‘bounce back’ quickly. When you have a dry skin type, your skin raincoat has a few holes, and it’s not very speedy at repairing itself. That means ingredients like essential oils cause more holes in the raincoat that dry skin types aren’t able to heal quickly. To get rid of dry skin and get your skin back on its way to recovery, opt for skincare aimed at dry OR sensitive skin types. Sensitive skincare as a general rule, doesn’t use known irritants and allergens.
3. GET YOUR SKIN PH BACK TO NORMAL
This is a bit of a strange thought, because usually we consider a non acidic and non-alkaline pH as good. Neutral is water. Neutral is pH 7. We feel comfortable here, there ain’t no risk of stinging or burning. WELL part of your skin’s defence is that naturally it is slightly acidic. A normal and healthy skin pH is between 4.2-5.5. If your skin is tipped out of the healthy pH range, then dryness can set in. To get rid of dry skin, skin pH needs to go back to its healthy range.
When skin pH is healthy, skin can get busy repairing it’s skin raincoat. With a normal skin pH, the enzymes in your skin work their butt’s off to make all of the skin lipids (also known as skin fats and sebum) for your raincoat. It’s also like taking a pro-biotic drink. Just like your digestive system, skin has ‘good bacteria’ that help to make it healthy and keep things running the way they should. Restoring skin pH means skin really can do what needs to be done, to get back to normal.
Usually when skin pH has gone a bit wrong, and might need a chocolate biscuit or 2, to put it back in place, it’s gotten too ALKALINE. That means it’s over 5.6. This is another reason why water can dry and irritate skin, water is pH 7, that can get things moving in the wrong direction! When your skin is upset and alkaline, raincoat holes start to form and bacteria’s like P.acnes (spot causing!) start to grow ‘The family’ because your ‘good bacteria’ are all outta sync.
To get rid of dry skin, look out for skincare that is pH balanced. There are ingredients you can look out for in creams, which give you a clue they are pH balanced. Keep an eye out for citric acid, lactic acid, AHA’s (the most common is glycolic acid) and gluconolactone. These guys are all clues that the cream is likely to be pH balanced and great for dry skin. Another skin loving ingredient that is great for dry skin with an un-happy pH is OATMEAL. This guy will be found called Avena Sativa kernel flour on a skincare ingredient list. Oatmeal is a bit special, scientifically it gets the name of a ‘buffer’ and all that means, is it will keep on re-balancing your skin, and it doesn’t get used up. Pretty special ‘ey! The pH balance ingredients are a bit like adding squash to your water. You need more to get a punchy juicy taste. That’s not the case with oatmeal! Oatmeal also gets to work SUPER fast (literally super-hero speed!), studies have shown, as SOON as you put it on your skin, skin pH returns to normal. It might not sound like a ‘spangly’ skincare ingredient, but it is an absolute skin winner!
4. MINIMISE INFLAMMATION
Dry and damaged skin is prone to inflammation. Some dry skin conditions are actually caused by inflammation itself! Even acne is an ‘inflammatory disorder’, all that means is your bodies got a bit carried away, a bit addicted to becoming inflamed. Minimising inflammation is another great way to get rid of dry skin. Sometimes our bodies can work against themselves. Inflammation is your bodies response when it senses an intruder in the house! Sometimes that intruder can be an irritant or allergen, other times it’s like a ‘ghost’ is in the house. There’s no intruder, it’s just your bodies got a bit stuck fighting something that’s no longer there!
The hard-core solution is a steroid cream. It’s like putting a baby-sitter in the house, to reassure your body there is no-one else home. Another great ingredient is Bisabolol (also a great ingredient for sensitive skin!), this is the special part of Chamomile. Chamomile is a known soother, and soothing ingredients tend to be anti-inflammatory! #Win. You’ll find that ingredient in skincare that you don’t need a prescription for. Some tests have shown Bisabolol to be AS effective as steroid creams #DoubleWin!
So Lovelies, to get those dry skin patches ‘disappeared’, choose an ingredient that’s going to STOP skin from losing its water, and give back some good fats to skin. Avoid allergens and irritants, the first and easiest to cut out is fragrance and essential oils! THEN, get some pH balance, hit the oats hard *wink wink*. FINALLY look out for anti-inflammatory ingredients, a lot of sensitive skincare will be packed with these anyway!
PRO-TIP: Get your skins raincoat back with dry skin skincare, and soothe away all the other symptoms of dry skin with sensitive skin skincare!
Are you a dry skin sufferer? What are your GO-TO products?
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.