Dry skin can be vexing. It can be itchy, flaky, uncomfortable, and irritating.
Dry skin occurs when skin doesn't retain sufficient moisture. This can happen as a result of frequent bathing, use of harsh soaps, aging, or certain medical conditions. And for those in colder climates, it can stem from cold, dry winter air.
Moisturise, Moisturise, Moisturise.
Using a moisturiser is a must for everyone, but it is even more of a necessity for dry skin. Make sure to pick one that’s formulated specifically for your skin type. Remember, what works for oily skin may not work for dry skin. If you have dry skin, try using a lightweight water-based moisturizer, formulated with hyaluronic acid and aloe vera water to help provide long-lasting hydration.
Skin moisturisers, which rehydrate the top layer of skin cells and seal in moisture, are the first step in combating dry skin. They contain three main types of ingredients. Humectants, which help attract moisture, include ceramides, glycerin, sorbitol, hyaluronic acid, and lecithin. Another set of ingredients — for example, petrolatum (petroleum jelly), silicone, lanolin, and mineral oil — helps seal that moisture within the skin. Emollients, such as linoleic, linolenic, and lauric acids, smooth skin by filling in the spaces between skin cells.
Basically, the thicker and greasier a moisturiser, the more effective it will be. Some of the most effective are petroleum jelly and moisturising oils. They are super affordable too, you can use Vaseline and some coconut oil. Because they contain no water, they're best used while the skin is still damp from bathing, to seal in the moisture.
What else can you do about dry skin?
Here are some ways to combat dry skin that are effective if practiced consistently:
- Use a humidifier in the winter. Set it to around 60%, a level that should be sufficient to replenish the top layer of the skin.
- Limit yourself to one 5 to 10-minute bath or shower daily. If you bathe more than that, you may strip away much of the skin's oily layer and cause it to lose moisture. Use lukewarm rather than hot water, which can wash away natural oils.
- Minimise your use of soaps. Steer clear of deodorant soaps, perfumed soaps, and alcohol products, which can strip away natural oils.
- To avoid damaging the skin, stay away from bath sponges, scrub brushes, and washcloths. If you don't want to give them up altogether, be sure to use a light touch. For the same reason, pat or blot (don't rub) the skin when toweling dry.
- Apply moisturiser immediately after bathing or washing your hands. This helps plug the spaces between your skin cells and seal in moisture while your skin is still damp.
- Don’t over cleanse. There’s no way around the fact that cleansing is necessary, even for dry skin types. If your dry skin has you shying away from this basic skin care step, look at what cleanser you’re using and how often you’re using it. Ideally you should only wash your face twice a day, as well as after a workout session. Make sure to look for a cleanser formulated specifically for dry skin. For a post-gym refresh, try a no-rinse cleansing option like micellar water. Micellar water is powered by tiny micelles—oil molecules—that act as a magnet to lift dirt, oil, and makeup up and away from the skin
- To reduce the greasy feel of petroleum jelly and thick creams, rub a small amount into your hands and then rub it over the affected areas until neither your hands nor the affected areas feel greasy.
- Never, ever scratch. Most of the time, a moisturiser can control the itch. You can also use a cold pack or compress to relieve itchy spots.