First things first – all skin types are completely natural. Yours is an innate part of you that won’t suddenly change overnight, and it shouldn’t. That being said, we know that sometimes life in our bodies isn’t always going to be perfect. While our skin types stay the same, our skin’s day-to-day can be full of unpredictable moments or recurring patterns we don’t love, whether it’s the weather or a change in environment that’s having an impact. That’s what our Glow Academy series is here for; to give you the tools to understand your skin type, what’s affecting it, and how to help it to look and feel its very best.
We’re talking all things Dry skin! Easily irritated, a bit flaky and not a fan of winter – could this be the most relatable skin type of all?
So, What exactly is dry skin?
We’re going to start this one by clearing up a little bit of confusion – the difference between dry and dehydrated skin. Dry skin is a skin type you’ll have your whole life, characterised by a lack of lipids (fats and oils). Dehydrated skin is a skin condition largely influenced by external factors causing a lack of water in skin’s upper layers and it can flare up at any time for anyone, regardless of their skin type.
Now we’ve got that out of the way, let’s delve into dryness! It all starts with the skin’s moisture barrier, a layer of fats in the epidermis which work together to keep moisture and natural oils (sebum) sealed into skin, where they can nourish and keep skin plump. People who are genetically predisposed to dry skin tend to have a weaker barrier function, meaning that sebum is more easily lost. The end result? Skin that appears rough and flaky, and feels irritated and tight.
As well as being a skin type, dry skin is also a frequent symptom of conditions like eczema or psoriasis. If you’re noticing frequently occurring dry patches that are very itchy, you should always speak with a doctor or dermatologist just in case.
What can have an impact on dry skin?
As winter nights grow longer and temperatures take a turn for the Arctic, it’s likely that the effects of dryness will be more keenly felt. While central heating keeps us toasty on dreary January evenings, it’s also removing the moisture from the air and our skin. Outside, we’re facing gales of icy air and torrential downpours which lead to irritation and redness, and as we move between these environments, it can leave dry skin feeling confused and looking aggravated.
‘Surely the logical answer to tight, dry skin is a regular bubble bath’, we hear you cry. In actuality, not all H₂0 is the friend of dryness. If you’re bathing multiple times a week, skin’s natural oils are lost with hot water as it evaporates, causing skin to dry out even further. That’s why your fingers decide it’s time to transform into prunes after half an hour in the tub. The same even goes for washing the dishes, especially for those prone to dry hands. For the chore-averse who just breathed a sigh of relief, we’re sorry to say you can still use gloves!
Dryness is also commonly noted as skin grows more mature. The older we get, the less sebum our body produces and in women, this is often increased by the hormone changes that occur during menopause. Throw more years of sun exposure and a slowing down of cell renewal into the mix, and it’s only natural that skin will start to feel much dryer.
How do I take care of dry skin?
- Try to make bathtime an indulgent once-a-week treat and embrace power-shower life instead, aiming to let the water run for 5 minutes max (10 if you’re in the tub). Whichever option you’re going with, set the water to a moderate temperature too – think warm tropical ocean, not the steam room at the local spa. When you get out, pat your skin dry gently with a towel instead of harshly rubbing and scrubbing, as it helps keep moisture on the skin.
- It goes without saying that moisturiser is a must-have for dry skin (look for one that’s high in fatty acids to support that all-important lipid barrier) but don’t limit that thinking to just your face. Find a body cream that you love and apply it top-to-toe as soon as you’ve finished your post-shower towel-down, paying special attention to your usual dry areas.
- We get it, central heating is the one thing standing between you and life as an icicle in the middle of winter. To protect dry skin while it’s blasting, use a humidifier to counteract its effects and raise moisture levels in the air.
- Don’t forget to exfoliate skin twice a week to keep your complexion at its freshest and buff away flaky skin. Avoid manually rubbing away with a harsh brush or pumice stone, as these can actually just tear and aggravate the skin further! A grainy scrub option might also leave dry skin feeling sensitive, so check out chemical liquid exfoliants that use alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) like lactic or glycolic acid to break down the bonds of dead skin cells for a smoother surface. For a super gentle option, you might even find that using our Bamboo Face Cloth each day is enough.
This is the skin type that’s most prone to irritation, so that means being as delicate to it with the ingredients in your skincare as possible. Give a wide berth to products containing alcohol, fragrances or additives and if you’re feeling a face mask, stick with ones which are focused on hydration, instead of clay and charcoal-based options.
Which ingredients are good for dry skin?
Look out for skincare which features..
Hyaluronic acid – There’s nothing quite like it when it comes to keeping your moisture levels freshly replenished and ensuring that skin never goes thirsty.
Ceramides – Think of these as the cement keeping your skin’s moisture barrier sturdy. Prioritise products like natural serums and face creams which feature these natural fats to give yourself a barrier boost!
Squalane – It’s an essential emollient that helps lock in hydration and drench dry patches for soft, supple and balanced results.
The dry skin FAQ
Why is my skin dry even when I moisturise? There’s actually a myriad of factors at play here, so we’ll break them down one by one;
- If you want the best possible results from your moisturiser, persistence is key – you should be applying it daily, morning and night, so that your skin naturally falls into rhythm with it.
- Skimping on exfoliation? That can also have a huge impact, as if moisturiser is just being slathered over built-up layers of dead skin cells, it won’t be able to do its job and properly penetrate into the epidermis’ upper layers.
- You might have made a formulation faux pas if you’re using a moisturiser that’s very light and oil-free. That’s perfect if you have naturally oily skin as it helps to avoid excess sebum, but as somebody with dry skin, you want to opt for a richer moisturiser that will really enrich your complexion with heavier hydration.
- Don’t treat your moisturiser like a cleanser as you apply it and simply wipe it all over your face – this isn’t something that’s going to wash off, and it needs to be absorbed into your skin. Patting it in instead, or massaging it in very small circles, is the way to go, as it adds extra pressure which helps speed up absorption.
What foods can affect dry skin? Alcohol (we know, technically not food) and foods high in salt can really have a negative impact, as they both dehydrate cells and exacerbate the effects of dry skin. On the flip side, you’re good to glow with cucumber and its high vitamin C content, and avocado which is packed full of protein, vitamins and healthy fats. Plus...you guessed it, water! And lots of it – you want to aim for seven to eight glasses a day.