Skin feeling tight and rough to the touch? Maybe even a bit flaky and itchy? If so, you could be suffering from dry skin. Don’t worry – you are not alone. Research has shown that about a third of women have regular bouts of dry skin but there’s lots you can do to solve it.
Dry skin is a very common condition caused by lack of moisture in the epidermis – the upper layer of skin and the bit that takes all the hard knocks that modern life throws at us. As we get older, our skin is more prone to losing moisture so dry skin issues tend to rise. However it’s the external factors that really take their toll. Things such as changing weather conditions; using harsh chemicals and cleaning agents, over washing, even wear and tear from rough clothing – make a big difference. The change of seasons is often a trigger so now’s a great time to give your skin the tlc it needs to stay in tip top condition all year round.
Seven steps to banish dry skin:
1. Drink plenty of water – Staying hydrated on the inside helps all your body cells to maintain a healthy balance of fluids. So don’t skimp on your 8 glasses a day. Remember to dial that up when the temperature rises or when losing it through exercise. Keep an eye on alcohol, tea and coffee intake – all of these have a dehydrating effect on your body at a cellular level.
2. Go easy when washing – Wash in warm water rather than piping hot. If you know you are prone to dry skin, make sure you are washing with something that is gentle. Harsh solvents damage the surface layer and can lead to irritation so read the label and seek out products specially formulated for dry skin where you can. Go easy on the facial and body scrubs – once a week with something gentle should be enough. While abrasive scrubs do help to remove the dead surface cells of skin and leave it softer, over doing it will damage the surface layer of the skin and leave it vulnerable to moisture loss.
3. Take a targeted approach – Skin varies dramatically in different parts of our body. From the paper thin skin round our eyes, to the thick pads on our heels, elbows and knees. Work out where your dry bits are and deploy different washing, exfoliation and moisturising strategies to keep them in tip top condition. Be ready to adapt it over time as skin changes through the year and as we get older.
4. Lock in moisture – To lock in moisture after bathing, pat yourself with a towel to remove the excess water and then apply a moisturiser to still damp skin. Even better, bathe with a bath oil. If you choose the right one you should be able to step out of the tub with your body ready moisturised from top to toe.
5. Watch the cloth – Rough textured clothing can rub skin up the wrong way. Choose smooth fired fabrics such as fine weave cotton and silk next to the skin. When laundering clothes, make sure everything is well rinsed before wearing to avoid any lingering irritants from the cleaning agent being left behind as they can upset skins natural balance.
6. Protect skin by day – Skin needs protecting from the sun’s rays during daylight hours. Use a daytime moisturiser with an inbuilt SPF factor of at least 30. Use it all year round – even when you can’t see the sun, its rays can see you. Adapt your moisturiser through the year to compensate for the conditions – remember that while central heating is hard on the skin, so is air con.
7. Nourish by night – Night time is when skin repairs and renews itself. As that’s when all the action is going on at cellular level, its the time when feeding your skin with the nutrients it needs to stay healthy is most important. The reason we’re such big fans of night-time face oils is that natural oils are simple chemical structures so are able be absorbed deep in to the layers of the skin where all the action is going on.