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Wednesday,May 07, 2014 Advice and tips from our Skin Fitness team

Caring for dry skin

Dry skin is a very common complaint – here we explore the reasons behind dryness in the skin and how to combat it for a soft, supple, healthy face.

Understanding your skin type is essential for taking proper care of your face and choosing skin care products and treatments that are right for you.. It’s also important to monitor your skin type over time, as it can change due to external factors like climate, sun, skin care products and internal factors like medications, hormonal changes and diet. Your skin type is not static and can change multiple times.. Skin can also lack radiance, be dehydrated and/or sensitive, display fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, suffer from a loss of firmness or be prone to enlarged pores.

It’s also common to experience several skin types at once – for example, oily skin with roughness. You can diagnose your skin type/s simply by looking at your skin regularly, feeling its texture and noticing any changes within it.

Today, we’re looking at dry skin and how to keep it plump and moisturised.

Definition

Dry skin is characterised by a lack of moisture in its corneous layer, due to a lipid production dysfunction at the epidermal level and a lack of Natural Moisturising Factor (NMF) components found in the stratum corneum, resulting in tightness, roughness and even flaking. (NMF components absorb water from the atmosphere and combine it with their own water content allowing the outermost layers of the stratum corneum to stay hydrated despite exposure to the elements.)

The skin texture is thinner, fine and even. Sensations of discomfort, dryness and tugging are constant. The skin appears dull and matte, especially on the cheeks, around the eyes and the mouth. It may lack elasticity, with accentuated fine lines, wrinkles and roughness. In more severe cases, itching and burning may occur, with higher skin irritation and sensitivity. Extremely dry skin shows signs of cracking and fissuring.

It is important to distinguish dry and dehydrated skin, as all skin types may become dehydrated, at least occasionally. Dehydrated skin is a skin condition with constant sensations of discomfort, roughness and dull complexion. The skin lacks water content, but may still produce oil. Skin dehydration is exacerbated by factors such as age, using the wrong products for your skin type (especially cleanser), the sun and exposure to extreme climates with inappropriate protection. 

Causes

Dry skin can be genetically determined or triggered by factors such as:

  • Extreme climates and inappropriate protection from them
    • Climate changes outdoors and indoors
    • Cold temperature, cold wind and low humidity especially during the winter
    • Low humidity inside with certain types of heaters and air conditioners
  • Sun exposure and inappropriate sun protection: the heat of the sun dries out the skin by reducing the natural oils in the skin.  This can lead to flaky skin with premature wrinkles.
  • Using the wrong products for your skin type:
    • Using products containing irritant actives: retinol, AHA, etc
    • Over-washing with inappropriate cleansers, tonics, soaps, etc
    • Over-use of sanitizers and cleaning agents with alcohol
  • Life style and diet with a lack of essential fatty acids
  • Showering too much or regularly with the wrong products. Soap and hot water dissolve the lipids and NMF components in the skin. The more showers you take, the more frequently this damage takes place and the less time your skin has to repair itself through natural oil production.
  • Medications: drugs for high blood pressure, cholesterol-lowering drugs, allergies, diuretics and acne treatments
  • Skin disorders: eczema, psoriasis, seborrhea dermatitis, rosacea, etc
  • Health conditions: diabetes, hypothyroidism, kidney disease and dialysis, etc

Most of the factors above cause dry skin by affecting the stratum corneum, the top layer of the epidermis. The stratum corneum works like plastic wrap around the body, keeping harmful substances and germs out while keeping water and oils in the skin making it supple and pliable.

Dry skin can be also a natural consequence of the ageing process, as sebum and hyaluronic acid productions slow down.

Mature skin

With age, the skin’s sebum and hyaluronic acid productions slow down, often leading to increased dryness, an accentuation of fine lines and wrinkles, and flakiness. The skin may appear dull, and can start to itch and burn. In women, the shifting balance of hormones with menopause causes various changes. As skin thins considerably after the menopause, women’s skin may become more sensitive to sun damage and weather extremes. Another problem is hyperpigmentation, especially in those with a long history of sun exposure.

While it is important to meet the needs of mature skin, it is necessary to keep in mind that not all persons over 40 experience the mentioned problems.

If you recognized these symptoms in your own skin, we offer a range of products to help combat dry skin and improve moisturize levels, plumpness and radiance. To find out which products are  recommended for your skin type, use our Skincare Consultation Tool to complete a diagnosis of your skin. This will provide you with a list of Skin Fitness products that are best-suited to your individual skin type.

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