As we enter into the winter months, skin that is already on the dry side can suddenly become quite uncomfortable and ‘tight’. Understandably many people react by using even thicker, heavier products to try and combat the dryness. However, not only does this not help, it also often leads to an increase in skin sensitivity. So, here are my top five ways of dealing with dry skin
The most common myth about dry skin- BUSTED!
Perhaps the most common advice I hear about dry skin is ‘drink more water!’. Whilst drinking water has many, many health benefits, helping dry skin is not one of them. The reasons are two-fold.
Firstly, dry skin is a skin type rather than a skin condition like dehydrated skin. Skin types can’t be changed any more than blood types can be changed, so if you’re hoping that drinking two litres of water a day will somehow ‘cure’ your dry skin, you’ll be disappointed.
The other reason is to do with the structure of skin. It is true that our bodies are made up of 70% water, and therefore drinking enough water is vital for our internal organs. However, the epidermal layers of the skin (the outermost layers) are only made up of 10% water. Therefore an increase in water intake actually has very little impact on the structure and condition of the skin as it looks and feels to you.
So let’s move on to what you CAN do to help dry skin!
Step 1 – Comfortable Cleansing
Cream or oil-based, non-foaming based cleansers are better for drier skins, and don’t strip the skin of essential moisture. You’ll know you’ve found the right cleanser when your skin feels soft and smooth after cleansing, not tight or irritated.
Another handy tip is to remove cleanser with cotton wool rather than water. Water, particularly hot water, can draw out your skin’s natural oils and make dry skin feel even worse. If using cotton wool doesn’t make your skin feel ‘clean’ enough, simply include a pH balanced toner afterwards.
Step 2 – Exfoliate the RIGHT Way
Regular exfoliation will work wonders for dry skin. Men and women with dry skin often have an accumulated build- up of skin cells, which actually often prevents moisture retention. By encouraging skin cell turnover at a faster rate, other products used on the skin become more effective.
There are two ways to exfoliate effectively:
1. Use an exfoliating cleanser
Gentle acids will help to regulate cell turnover. In particular look for a cleanser that includes either glycolic or lactic acid. Glycolic acid has the smallest molecular structure of all the acids. The smaller the molecule the deeper into the skin it can travel, and therefore have the most effect. Lactic acid on the other hand is great for dry skin as it is has amazing water-binding properties, so doesn’t leave skin feeling tight. It is also considered more gentle than Glycolic Acid.
2. Use an AHA exfoliator weekly
Both Glycolic and Lactic acids are AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids). AHAs ‘unglue’ dead skin from live skin cells leaving fresher, less flaky skin. If your skin can tolerate it, using a higher percentage AHA based exfoliator twice a week can really make a difference to how your skin looks and feels. Just a word of warning though, AHA’s cause photo-sensitivity and therefore it is vital to use a high factor sunscreen during the day.
Step 3 – Becomes Friends with Facial Oils
Facial oils can make a huge difference to how comfortable your skin feels. I often advise clients to use facials oils at night instead of or underneath a night cream. Facial oils can help to soften and soothe skin which is particularly helpful if you spend a lot of time outdoors during the colder months.
I always suggest using a facial oil at night as it won’t interfere with the look and feel of make-up. Find the right facial oil for you, and you skin will feel hydrated, soothed, nourished and calm.
Best choices? Pure Rosehip Oil is a wonderful all-rounder containing fatty acids, vitamin A and anti-oxidants. It’s gentle enough to use on everyone, from children to people undergoing oncological treatments (radiotherapy and chemotherapy). Not only does it help to comfort dry skin, it also softens scars and stretch marks, diminishes dark spots and soothes irritated and sensitive skin.
Oils with Omega 6 and 9s will be extremely helpful for dry skin by reinforcing the protective barrier of the epidermis. Strong skin equals comfortable skin! Oils to look out for include Sesame, Hazelnut, Apricot and Almond Oils.
Step 4 – Look for Proven Skincare Ingredients
Hyaluronic Acid (HA) is a powerful ingredient that can really make a difference if your skin is dry. It comes in three molecular weights (low, medium and high) and each effects this skin in different way.
- High weight Hyaluronic Acid sits on the surface of the skin and restores hydration and water loss.
- Medium weight Hyaluronic Acid strengthens the skins defences and makes it more resilient
- Low weight Hyaluronic Acid deeply hydrates and improves the skin’s suppleness, firmness and density
You can now find Hyaluronic Acid in supplement drinks as well as in skincare for an even more powerful effect.
Step 5 – Treat Yourself to a Facial
- You’ll get a treatment designed specifically for your skin
- Active ingredients are higher in professional products. As a consumer, by law, you’re only able to purchase products off the shelf with a maximum of 15% active ingredients. Professional products can be created with up to 80% or higher active ingredients
- Beauty therapists will have access to facial machines that aren’t available to you e.g. microdermabrasion or laser machines
- You’ll get advise on homecare products to extend the results of an in-salon treatment
- They are enjoyable and relaxing!
So which are the best facial treatments for dry skin?
- Microdermabrasion – works by removing dead skin, dirt and bacteria from the top layer of skin. Any products used after microdermabrasion will work much more effectively as they are not ‘fighting’ to get the the healthy, live cells
- Galvanic Facial Treatment – a method of pushing skincare products into the deeper layers of the skin, increasing their ability to change the skin at the dermal layer where new skin cells are formed. A relaxing and powerful treatment.
- Chemical Peels – particularly Lactic Acid/Glycolic Acid peels. An intensive version of an at-home exfoliation that resurfaces the top layer of the skin. Chemical peels these days are nothing like their predecessors, and you’ll sometimes not even feel your skin ‘peeling’ after a treatment. There’s often no downtime involved particularly with the lower level chemical peels. A great one off treatment to kick-start a programme for dealing with dry skin.
If you have dry skin and are not sure the best way of managing it, why not come in for a complimentary skincare consultation (book online here)? Together we can talk through the options available to you to make sure you skin looks it’s best going into the winter months!