How to care for dry skin

dry skin

Dry skin is a common condition characterized by flaking, itchiness and peeling of the skin, redness and an uncomfortable feeling of tightness. And now winter is approaching, the cold and dry air can make it worse! If you have dry skin, there are lots of things you can do to take proper care of it and keep it looking health and beautiful. But first it’s important to understand what causes skin to become dry.

What causes dry skin

Dry skin occurs when the skin’s intracellular matrix (the substances that keep skin cells intact and make them function properly) gets damaged. This causes water loss. There are several factors that can damage the intracellular matrix: cold and humid weather, sun exposure, central air conditioning or heating. But dry skin can also be hereditary. And it gets worse with age! As we get older, in fact, our levels of estrogen decrease causing the skin to become thinner and its protective barrier to deplete.

How to treat dry skin

To treat dry skin it is essential to reduce and prevent the damage caused to the skin’s intracellular matrix. A good and regular skincare regimen with products designed for dry skin and following some simple and healthy habits can keep this condition under control:

Avoid skincare products with drying and irritating ingredients like alcohols, which can destroy the skin’s intracellular matrix and irritate skin even more.

Using sunscreen is essential. Exposure to the sun rays causes premature aging, cancer and depletion of the skin’s intracellular matrix. Remember that the sun rays can penetrate through clouds and windows and get reflected on snow, so no matter what the weather outside is like, wearing sunscreen everyday and reapplying frequently is necessary.

Choose a cream cleanser. They are usually more moisturizing but still remove dirt, makeup and other impurities well. Soaps, instead, can be too harsh for dry skin. If you need to use them choose one that doesn’t contain irritating ingredients. If a soap (or any other skincare product) causes irritation, stop using it straight away.

Dry skin doesn’t need toner. But if you still wanna use it choose a hydrating mist. Avoid astringents as they are alcohol-based and will strip even more oil and moisture from your skin.

Use a thick moisturizer loaded with humectants, antioxidants, binding and anti-inflammatory ingredients. Humectants like Glycerin and Lactic Acid attract moisture from the air while ingredients like silicones and Petrolatum form a barrier on the skin, trapping moisture in and preventing water loss.

Exfoliating skin regularly is important to remove dead skin cells and keep skin healthy. It will also allow your skin care products to penetrate the skin better. Exfoliate once or twice a week using gentle scrubs that contain Alpha Hydroxy Acids (like Glycolic or Lactic Acid) or Beta Hydroxy Acids (such as Salycidic Acid).

Use a humidifier. Low humidity is one of the main causes of dry skin. If you live or work in an environment with central air conditioning or heating, which strip moisture from the skin, consider getting a humidifier. It will add moisture back to the air.

Take short baths and showers. Don’t spend more than 10-15 minutes in the shower or bath and use warm (not hot!) water and a gentle, non-irritating soap. And if you can, try not to shower/bath more than once a day.

When to see a doctor

If dry skin isn’t treated well and soon, it can become red and inflamed. That could mean that you have dermatitis. There are several types of dermatitis so if you think you have this condition, the best thing to do is to consult a doctor for a precise diagnosis and treatment.

How do you take care of your dry skin?

Photo source

16 Comment

  1. this is very helpful for my dry skin. i still use apple cider vinegar as toner every now and then as it cleans up makeup built-up in pores fast. but yes, i have to use more moixturiser afterwads. and i finally find another person agree with exfoliating skin even for a person with dry skin. many said i don’t have to but i believe if dry skin’s taken dared of, it’s easier to treat. this is the most vital for feet. if scrubbed properly, the cream can penetrate the skin and heals faster from my experience.

  2. That photo scared me! But I know how to shoot something like that — slather on thick facepaint, wait for it to dry for that texture :)

  3. Connie: thanks and you’re welcome. I agree, the sun is one of the major causes of dry skin at any time, even winter. But apart from using sunscreen religiously every day and reapplying it every two hours there’s no much we can do about that. :(

    jojoba: I think exfoliation is necessary if you have dry skin. Dry skin doesn’t shed properly and that causes skin cells build up which makes skin look flaky. Not to mention, it makes products penetrate the skin better so that they are more effective. But you need to be careful and use a gentle scub or you may irritate skin even more.

  4. Nikki: you’re welcome, hope you find it useful. :)

    Jasmine: sorry! I was wondering how they could have taken that picture, now I know. Thanks!

    Dao: you’re right, hyaluronic acid is great at moisturizing and reteaning water into the skin even in low and high humidity conditions. I hope so too but I think it’s either makeup like Jasmine said or just photoshopped.

  5. I have oily skin and I think that every type of skin has it’s main problems. My skin hates summer (although I love it) but is doing great in the cold season ( even on -20 degrees).

  6. Tavia, yes, every skin type has its problems. Mine is combination and gets drier in winter and oilier in the summer. It’s a pain! I’m glad your skin behaves at least in winter. I’m writing a post about oily skin, so check back soon ;)

  7. Anastacia: thanks, I hope you find them helpful :)

    Jenn: thank you! Sounds like we have the same problem, my legs (and they rest of my body) are dry too. I hope these tips will help you as much as they helped me :)

  8. wow really helpful post! Good points! I hate the cold wind in the winter months, I have normal to dry skin and the wind makes my skin really tight and it makes me have dry patches! (although I don’t have serious dryness)

    Using a cream cleanser will really help, I used to use gel cleanser but now I’ve switched to cream/milk cleanser and it was such a relief to my skin, it really helps with softening the skin.

    About the toner thing, I think all skins need toner except if it’s a really dry skin, although a hydrating mist would be a great choice. I’m currently on a search for a rosewater mist to soothe my skin, I really need one haha..
    I’m guilty of taking a long shower and with very warm water and afterwards my skin is usually tight…! I love a long shower..! :) And I’m in need of a humidifier, my dad said he would get one for me.. I’ve never used one so let’s see how that works.
    Denise´s last blog post ..Pet SocietyMy Profile

    • Denise, I’m glad cream cleanser work so well for your skin. They are also more moisturizing and soothing than gel cleansers and a great choice for those with dry skin.

      As for toners, I have combination skin and don’t use one. I used to but then I run out of it so I skipped it for a few days and saw no change in how my skin looked or felt. Toners do nothing for me, I’m afraid. Of course, it also depends on the toner. I do like hydrating mists. I don’t think they are a necessary step in a skincare routine but they are nice nonethless as they add more moisture to the skin. :)

      I’m guilty fo taking long showers with very warm water too. I know it’s bad but how to resist when the weather’s so cold?

      • yes, I agree and the funny thing is I had never used one before (a cream cleanser I mean). Of course, to be honest, I always had normal skin &normal skin girls can use either gel or cream/milk (or so I’ve read). But lately my skin was neglected (the past year) and feeling so tight and itchy so I had to try something else (and I used a cream cleanser totally by accident, my grandma bought me a Garnier one when I was staying at her place heehee) and then I really liked it, how much of a difference it made. Gel ones are more harsh indeed..

        I agree about the moisturising mist’s properties that you mentioned, they would be a nice extra step.. I’m suspecting toners don’t do much for me either lol because I bought my first one and haven’t been using it much, it has like an astringent effect on my skin that I like though, and also they do some good on my acne areas (cheeks etc.) and I find it fun to apply with the cotton pad. :) But other than that, I’ve never really needed one either, maybe it could be an added luxury step haha =) I think oily skins could benefit more from a toner.

        I know, so cold indeed!!! ^^
        Denise´s last blog post ..Pet SocietyMy Profile

        • Denise, how nice of your grandma to get you one. I used to be skeptical of cream cleansers too but once you try them, it’s hard to go back esp if you have dry skin. They are gentler indeed.

          I do like hydrating or moisturizing toners as some of them contain antioxidants and other beneficial ingredients that are good for you but they are hard to come by (at least here in Italy) and usually cost more. But most toners are just basic and unless one has oily skin, they’re not really necessary. But I do like the fresh feeling they give so sometimes I’d buy one anyway. If you like something and it’s not too expensive, why not using it anyway, right?

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