Experts know that dry skin may be caused by a number of factors including a genetic susceptibility, exposure to possible triggers such as allergens, harsh cleansers, hot baths, the sun amongst others. Dry skin is about more than skin that lacks moisture. For some reason, skin that is dry is somehow damaged resulting in an ability to retain moisture or afford protection against the external environment. Some individuals are more susceptible to this effect than others.
Dry skin implicates the stratum corneum, or a thin layer of skin that sits on top of the epidermis. The stratum corneum is responsible for controlling moisture loss as well as protecting the body from external damage. In healthy skin, natural moisturizing factors, sebum and lipids in between the skin cells (intercellular matrix) provide moisture to keep the skin in balance. It's believed that a disruption of this balance leads to dry skin.
Self Care For Dry Skin
Effectively managing dry skin requires a combination of self care along with products that have been designed to replace moisture and help to stop its loss. The following practices should be employed to help prevent dry skin from developing or deteriorating:
Avoid dry air; use a humidifier to bring more moisture into the air if necessary
Avoid hot showers and long baths which strip skin of lipids and natural moisturizing factors
Use gentle soaps and gels
Opt for products that don't contain alcohol, which can dry skin
Cover up when exposed to extreme conditions such as wind, cold, air and sun. The sun, as with all heat, can dry skin.
5 Top Dry Skin Care Treatments
Despite your best efforts, you may not be able to avoid developing dry skin; some individuals are just more susceptible than others. Cold weather can cause skin that is normal and healthy to become dry. It can also exacerbate an existing dry skin situation. If this is the case for you, then it will be a good idea to combine a range of products that work in different ways. This strategy will ensure that products' actions complement one another, attacking the problem in a number of ways and leading to a speedier resolution.
Here are 5 ingredients that have all demonstrated efficacy in helping to treat dry skin:
1. Sunscreen - As with exposure to any heat, exposure to the sun's UVA and UVB rays can dry your skin. Try and sit in the shade if you can. When you can't, choose a broad spectrum, UVA/UVB blocking sunscreen that will not only help to prevent dryness but also deliver anti aging benefits by slowing down the development of wrinkles, skin discolorations and sagging skin.
2. Moisturizers - Moisturizers help to keep moisture in the stratum corneum as well as deliver ingredients that can help to rebuild a damaged barrier allowing damaged surface cells time to repair themselves. Mositurizers may contain a number of ingredients including antioxidants such as Vitamins C and E, lipids (lecithin, cholesterol, glycerides, plant oils), anti-inflammatories and water binding agents such as hyaluronic acid. If you have dry skin, you can't overdo moisturizing. Apply and re-apply as skin needs.
3. Exfoliants - Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and Beta Hydroxy Acid (Salicylic Acid) assist with the removal of dry, dead skin cells allowing healthier skin cells to rise to the surface. They also encourage skin cell resulting in faster production of newer, healthier skin cells. Exfoliants may include a range of AHAs such as lactic acid, malic acid, mandelic acid and glycolic acid. They may be designed for either facial or body use.
4. Gentle Cleansers - Cleansers that strip away natural oils will only compound a dry skin problem. Opt for one that isn't soap based and that won't deplete you of skin protective elements. If after cleansing, skin feels dry, then it's probably too harsh for your skin; try another.
5. Lip Balms - Lips are covered by a very thin layer of skin. In addition, they lack the lipids found on the rest of the face. Both these factors contribute to dryness, especially in winter when they're subjected to harsh climatic conditions. Apply lip glosses and balms as often as necessary during the day and slather on at night when your lips will benefit from uninterrupted application. Choose one that offers SPF protection during the day to afford protection against the sun's UV rays.
If skin is still dry, consider adding an oil such as olive oil. Olive oil is rich in antioxidants and other ingredients that are highly beneficial to dry skin. Hydrating masks used once or twice weekly may also provide relief. Lastly, oatmeal baths may be highly beneficial as oatmeal contains ingredients that are known to soothe skin.
If despite your best efforts, skin is still dry, red, itchy or inflamed, then you should seek medical help. But the above treatments will go a long way towards improving a dry skin condition on your own.