As the weather grows colder and humidity drops, those with a history of seasonal dry skin know that it’s time to prepare for the coming months. For some, this could look like wearing gloves and carrying a tube of moisturizer in their back pockets – whatever it takes to keep dryness at bay! However, dry skin is not always merely a winter condition; many individuals experience dry skin all year, and it’s not always clear why.
While moisturizing is the most basic step in treating dry skin, there are times when it’s simply not enough. Your skin may experience relief for a few hours, only to become dry and cracked all over again. If you’re battling regular skin dryness, you may need to reconsider what exactly could be causing these symptoms – and how best to target dry skin at the source.
#1: Internal Factors
Unfortunately, some people are simply born with skin that’s prone to dry-out. The good news is that such conditions are often treatable. One of the best examples of this is atopic dermatitis. According to the National Eczema Association, atopic dermatitis is the most common form of a particular group of skin conditions: eczema.
Atopic dermatitis is characterized by red, itchy rashes which may even ooze in severe cases. This condition tends to show up in infancy, and while it normally goes away in the first few years of childhood, some experience flare-ups well into adulthood.
The causes of atopic dermatitis remain unknown, so there is no cure. However, there have been some methods discovered over the years to help prevent and treat eczema.
To prevent the occurrences of flare-ups, it’s important to understand what specifically triggers lead to your symptoms. Whether it’s a food sensitivity, hormone imbalance, or reaction to a detergent, it can vary greatly from person to person. Those with eczema should also stick to a strict moisturizing routine, and avoid itchy fabrics like wool, alpaca, or synthetic fibers (cotton is preferred).
In the case of a flare up, there are several home remedies that have shown tremendous help with symptoms:
Studies have shown that cold-pressed coconut oil has anti-inflammatory benefits for dry skin, while also providing an extra barrier of protection in the delicate epidermis. This oil is also rich in fatty acids, which help to lower inflammation and moisturize the skin. While skin care products featuring coconut oil are excellent additions to your dry skin arsenal, the simplest way to use coconut oil is to apply it directly to clean, damp skin after bathing.
Aloe vera gel is an excellent remedy for dry skin – it’s even been known to soothe burns! Aloe vera is praised for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, can soothe broken skin, and encourage healing.
Honey is both a natural humectant – meaning that it draws and traps moisture against the skin – and a potent antimicrobial. These properties are especially helpful in preventing infection and transepidermal water loss in dry, cracked skin. Recent scientific studies also suggest that honey can help to heal wounds, while boosting the skin’s defensive systems.
#2: External Factors
If your dry skin is triggered by an external element, the exact catalyst is probably going to be much easier to determine. We may not always know what’s going on inside our bodies, but we can observe our environment and make necessary adjustments to comfort and protect our skin.
Common environmental factors include fluctuating or low humidity levels, hot water, and cold air. Cold weather is notably the hardest external factor to deal with; you can’t change the weather! However, you can work around it by obtaining a vigilant moisturizing routine: always keep hand cream at the ready, and moisturize after every shower. Even better: remember to apply hand cream after washing your hands! Keeping a lotion pump next to the sink makes this tip super convenient.
You can also adjust your environment by adding a humidifier. Your skin does best with slightly humid air, which helps skin stay moist and avoid dry-out. Note that while a hot shower every once in a while is therapeutic to the muscles, water should be kept at lukewarm or below to avoid stripping skin of essential skin surface lipids.
In addition to temperature and humidity factors, your skin may also become dehydrated as a result of topical personal care products. While individuals can have a sensitivity to a variety of skin care ingredients, the following tend to compose the main culprits:
As a topical skin or body care ingredient, alcohol functions as a solvent, antimicrobial, or astringent. It’s also an overall drying agent, removing even the most beneficial of oils from your skin.
Even momentary dryness can be damaging, and your skin barrier is going to work extra hard to restore your natural oils. For some individuals (especially those with combination skin), this leads to excessively oily skin and possibility for breakout. Those with dry skin symptoms should avoid topical products made with alcohol, at least until conditions improve.
Alpha and beta-hydroxy acids include skin care staples like salicylic acid – a known anti-acne ingredient – and glycolic acid, which is currently one of the biggest ingredients for boosting glow. While these acids can work wonders for the skin by exfoliating and brightening, too much can make them one of the sneakier dry skin causes in your routine.
Repeated use of acids within a given timeframe can leave your skin dry, red, and itchy. Acids should only be applied 2-3 times a week, or less if your skin is dry, sensitive, or recently sensitized.
Over-exfoliation delivers similar side effects to those caused by acids. Sure, exfoliating your skin is beneficial for sloughing off dead skin cells: a common trigger and side effect of dry skin. But if it’s done every night, your skin won’t have the chance to fully replenish its surface lipids – and can be more prone to cracking, tightness, and scaling.
Limit your use of the scrub to once or twice a week, then build up or pare down from there based on your skin’s reaction.
As much as you need to avoid certain elements, it’s equally important that you implement beneficial methods and products. Dodge harsh surfactants like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, avoid artificial fragrances, and stick with gentle products that feature organic ingredients.
First and foremost: don’t leave your skin unattended after cleansing, as your skin barrier can be abnormally stripped of its usual lipids. It is critical that you restore your skin’s pH balance with a toner – but be especially cautious of alcohol on the ingredient list. Seek a wealth of botanical ingredients and those with humectant vegetable glycerin, like Puristry’s Flower Water Toner. This ultra hydrating formula features organic lavender oil, rosewater, and witch hazel. The florals chosen for this toner are also especially soothing and calming for inflamed, itchy skin suffering from excessive dryness.
After applying toner to your skin, it’s time to reintroduce maximum hydration and moisture. At night – and especially in the wintertime – don’t be afraid to use a rich moisturizer full of natural oils and extracts. The Puristry Seaberry Moisturizer is made with coconut oil, grapeseed oil, and shea butter to coat and nurture thirsty, vulnerable skin.
Dry skin causes can be difficult to decipher, but remember that there is always an underlying cause for these symptoms. As a general rule, avoid anything that’s harsh on your face: cold dry air, detergents, and dyes. Actively incorporate skin care products that will deliver nourishment: shea butter, coconut oil, and plant-based ingredients.