Dry skin and dehydration can be a temporary problem for most people – for example, in the winter. But for some, dry skin is a lifelong concern – they have genetically lipid dry skin (Allipoid).
Dry skin, also known as Xerosis, effects many people of all ages, even infants. As we get older there is a significant drop in the Stratum Corneum Lipids – fats that are essential for the structure and function of living cells, as well as Ceramides (one of the important components that make up the skin’s Lipid Barrier).
By the time we reach our 40’s, our skin will most likely be dry as well as dehydrated.
Lifestyle can also contribute to a dry or dehydrated skin – stress, continued exposure to the sun, wind, and chemicals in the environment will all weaken your skin’s barrier and vital moisture is lost.
Also the products you choose can sometimes irritate and artificially dry your skin out, avoid S.D Alcohol (specially denatured- also known as Alcohol Denat) Any toners that feel like they are burning are a no no! they most likely contain S.D Alcohol or some other form of barrier solvent, you really want to strengthen your skin’s barrier and keep it as intact as you can.
Dry skin, or Allipoid skin, generally refers to a skin that is lacking in oil, whereas dehydrated skin is defined by the lack of water in the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the epidermis. Typically, skin cells that make up the deepest layers of the epidermis have around 80% water content, while cells of the stratum corneum are about 10% water. Anything below 10% is perceived as dehydrated.
Oily skin can still be dehydrated, it has enough levels of sebum (your skin’s oil) but that doesn’t help maintain water levels in the skin. A true dry skin will lack oil and also be dehydrated, due to a poor barrier that is leaking vital moisture.
Both dry and dehydrated skin is often irritated, inflamed and itchy, and it is worse in areas with very few sebaceous glands – such as arms, torso and legs as well as cheeks and eyes.
Other symptoms of dry skin can include a feeling of tightness or tautness, especially after bathing (having a bath is actually the worst thing for dry skin!), skin can flake and dry skin is more prone to fine lines and wrinkles. Dry skin will not have visible pores, the follicles will be quite tight.
Dry Skin Genes
Scientists at the University of Dundee have discovered the gene that causes dry skin. The Dundee research team says that its work has discovered the gene that produces “Filaggrin“, which helps the skin form a protective barrier, isn’t producing Filaggrin in a true Dry Skin. Filaggrin is normally found in large quantities in the outermost layers of the skin and is an essential part of the skin Barrier Function, helping to retain water and has moisturising properties, as well as keeping foreign organisms and bacteria out. They may have found the genetic reason for dry skin, but no cure! all I can say is moisturise, moisturise and then moisturise a bit more!
This is also known as Chicago winter skin. It occurs when people live in a climate that goes from humid to very dry. This can be very uncomfortable for your skin, the reason is the low humidity which causes a decrease in the water content of the Stratum Corneum.
Lifestyle facors to avoid!
- Over Cleansing – Yes! you can wash your skin too much! – avoid soap, it’s too alkaline and will strip your skin’s barrier. Use acid balanced cleansers, in a cream or cream/gel formulation. Also avoid very Hot water.
- Over exfoliation – too much is definitely bad for your skin, dry skin needs a certain amount of exfoliation, but keep it light and less frequent, I like Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant, it’s a super gentle polisher that leaves skin really smooth and glowing.
- Avoid products with artificial colours or fragrance.
- Smoking can also have a drying and dehydrating effect on the skin, as smoking inhibits the body’s ability to provide oxygen, nutrients and water to the skin. Smoking also drains the skin (and your body) of Vitamins A and C, and restricts blood vessels. You suffocate your skin from the inside.
- The Sun can also contribute to dry skin, constant exposure to the sun causes water to evaporate from the skin, tanned or burned skin requires a lot more moisturising for this reason. Always wear an SPF at all times!
- A Fat Free diet is definitely a trouble! and will put you on the path to dry skin and premature ageing! Skin friendly Essential Fatty Acids are the “good” fats and will provide your body the ingredients to support your skin’s barrier. I like Viridian’s Organic Beauty Oil or Udo’s Choice Oil blend and take a tablespoon every day! It is also thought that taking “Hyaluronic Acid” supplements can plump cells and hydrate skin from within.
- Excess Alcohol, and certain medications (such as decongestants) can also contribute to dry skin and cause dehydration.
What can you do?
There are many steps you can take to lessen the discomfort of dry and dehydrated skin. The right lifestyle choices are a great start, as well as a Professional Skin Treatment and effective home-care products.
Contrary to popular belief drinking water does not directly hydrate and impact your skin! your better off topically applying products to combat the moisture loss.
We need our bodies to be hydrated in order for our cells to get the water they need, but we are only as good as our circulation and lymphatic system! If they are not great, the blood vessels will not be carrying all the nutrients, water and oxygen to our skin! So the key is to do enough exercise (regularly) to get the blood flowing and you sweating! and your face nice and rosy!
It is true our body loses around 2 litres a day through sweat, urine etc, and we do need to put that back in, but we get water from our food as well as drinking, I try to drink about 1 litre of water a day as well as other drinks, and I eat lots of fruit and veg. The signs of dehydration are – lethargy, headaches and thirst – don’t let your body get to this point, so always keep some water handy!
The use of a humidifier will also help add moisture to surrounding air – central heating is terrible for our skin, warm dry air acts like a giant sponge, soaking up moisture from everything it touches. Dry-it-out has a wide range of affordable humidifiers, or you can place some bowls of water around the house, house plants will also help.
Topical Solutions For Dry Skin
Effective skin-care for dry skin will include the use of emollients and hydrators to replenish skin, and antioxidant vitamins and peptides to stimulate collagen production and increase the skin’s barrier protection. Make sunscreen as much a part of your routine as cleansing and moisturising, apply at least a teaspoon to get the correct SPF.
Cleansers For Dry Skin
Avoid stripping the skin with one of these creamy, hydrating cleansers, if your skin is too dry to use water then simply tissue off.
Toners For Dry Skin
Spritz toners are great for dry or dehydrated skin, apply your moisturiser onto freshly spritzed, damp skin and you will seal in and trap extra moisture.
Moisturisers For Dry Skin
Treatment Masks for Dry Skin
Use a mask 2-3 times a week as a super hydrating and nourishing fix, especially in the winter or on holidays.
Products To Combat Dehydration
Some of the products above will be too emollient for skin’s that are dehydrated and not genetically dry, some of them though are still fine to use, even on oily skin. If in doubt, please ask me. The products below will tackle dehydration, even on oily, easily congested skin.
Skin Treatments For Dry And Dehydrated Skin
Sometimes your skin needs an extra boost, regardless of what products you are using – that’s the time to get a skin treatment. Treatments are tailored to your skin, as I am sure you may have other skin concerns apart from dryness or dehydration. Using Professional strength products and equipment that give real results. In a treatment we can use higher strength exfoliants, enhance the penetration of active ingredients with electricals, and enhance circulation and the lymphatic system.