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.