Did you know that water, yes, water, that ‘harmless’, life-saving thing we drink lots of, can actually be an IRRITANT, and cause skin DRYNESS. This is especially true if you already have dry or sensitive skin, too much water (from the outside!) can make it all a bit worse. If you are in SHOCK right now, take a seat, ‘why don’t you sit down’ for this bit’ *wink wink*, lets have a chat about water and get you all sorted on your way to making sure its NOT water that’s preventing your skin from GLOWING its natural beautifulness!
WHY WATER CAN DRY & IRRITATE SKIN
Skin irritants can be horrible things that aren’t doing us any good, like a nettle sting, ouch! OR active ingredients, that are just TOO potent for our skin, the classics being ingredients like skincare acids (AHA’s, BHA’s) and skincare Vitamins like Vitamin A, the well known anti-aging ingredient. So what about water? How can something so vital to us, actually irritate and dry skin? Let’s get back to skin basics. Your skin is covered in a naturally protective oil layer called sebum, think of it like an ultra-high tech raincoat. It keeps water or ‘too much water’ from getting into our skin, and it lets air and oxygen in. Sorted. I can hear you asking, ‘but don’t skin moisturisers try to get water into skin?’, you are right, they absolutely do! All moisturisers have to include special ingredients that ‘defeat’ the skins naturally protective sebum layer and allow that cream to run through into your skin and work its wonders. Water is great when its actually get’s to the right places in skin, and with the right skin soothing ingredients to keep it company. It’s the bit before it gets there, that can irritate skin.
HOW WATER CAN IRRITATE SKIN
The common side effect of too much water is DRYNESS, which has some irony in it ‘ey! All that water, can wash away some of your protective skin raincoat (sebum layer) and when that’s gone, its a ‘free-pass’ for your skin hydration to follow. OOPS! Really, we are a bit like ducks! Duck’s have a really similar, special oily coating on their feathers to keep them ‘weather-proof’, of course they have that extra feathery layer to stop the water from getting to their skin, so the oily bit is mostly on their feathers. So how are you likely to have gotten a bit irritated by water in the past?
1. LICKING YOUR LIPS TOO MUCH
Maybe it was a super tasty chocolate cake, that you ‘went to town on’ and had to spend 10 minutes licking back off your lips? OR did you stumble over a topless Will Smith scene? I’m right there with you gurl! Whatever happened, this is a classic case of DRY skin waiting to happen. Licking your lips too much, gets water all over your lovelies and dry’s them right out!
2. WASHING FOR TOO LONG
Whether it’s doing the dish’s (perfect excuse to leave them for another day!) or spending a tad too long in the shower, TOO much continual contact with water, gives you the same result – dry skin. Remember when David Blaine spent 8 days living in a water sphere? Being in water for too long, is just not good for skin. #BringOutTheBrollies. Think of water like someone with a super strong hand, knocking at your door, That door is there to keep people out, that is unless they are lovelies like you that would get let in! When someone knocks again and again and again (might take some years, but we are speeding that up for this analogy!) gradually your door gets worn down and that person can just wander in. This is what happens when your skin spends TOO long in water. Bye-bye protective sebum layer means hello dry skin.
3. HAVING SUPER HOT SHOWERS
Aw those yummy things! Everything in moderation ‘ey! Hot water, is even better at banging at your skin’s door. Heat speeds up the rate that your protective skin raincoat is worn away at. So if you’re having a HOT shower, make it a quick one, and get a good dose of moisturiser on you soon after you get out.
PRO-TIP: Moisturise BEFORE you get all towel-dried, moisturiser helps to increase your skin hydration levels because it has water in there. Extra water on you skin, will make it even BETTER at doing that
4.HARD WATER, GIVES YOU SOAP SCUM RESIDUE
Hard water, is water that has a LOT of minerals in there, the thing with that is, all those minerals stop soap from getting soapy. Instead of getting soapy, whatever products you use are likely to ‘build-up’ on your skin, in a waxy soapy layer. Hard water can stop your shower gel, your shampoos and conditioners from washing off properly. These kinds of beauty products are not designed to stay on skin for long, so when they do, they tend to irritate and then to dry skin. If you know you live in a hard water area and you don’t have a water softener, then your best bet is to double rinse, and to use cleansing products that are much milder.
5. TOO MUCH WATER, GIVES SKIN WRINKLES
You’ve run a gorgeously warm bath, lit the candles, got the ‘mood’ music on and it is most definitely RELAX time. Not a clock in site, you KNOW its time to get our when your hands start to ‘prune’! That happens because your skin is absorbing TOO much water and its ‘bursting’ to get out, its like a balloon that has a bit too much air in it. As skin goes all wrinkly, it stretches and ‘test’s’ your raincoat like sebum layer. This make’s it less effective and allows your skin to dry out super fast once you’ve left the bath.
PRO-TIP: Get to know your optimal ‘pruning-time’ and make sure your outta the bath just before. OR if that bath is just TOO yummy, make lathering on a rich and protective moisturiser the FIRST thing you do after leaving bath bliss!
6. LEAVING WATER ON SKIN, WITHOUT MOISTURISER
If you are not planning to use a moisturiser on your skin, or face after you’ve washed, then make sure to pat dry with a towel. Water left on the surface of your skin, without a moisturiser to help it sink in, will mostly evaporate. When it does, it likes to take some more of your skin hydration with it, so skin gets drier and more irritated. This is especially true if you live in a very dry place, or its winter, its darn cold outside and the heating is on full whack!
Have you seen your skin get ALL dry and irritated by too much water?
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.