Drying air from heating, air conditioning, airplanes, wind.
Too much sun.
Washing the skin too often.
Long hot showers.
Overusing exfoliants (acids, peels, scrubs).
Irritating ingredients in skincare and other products that come in contact with the skin (e.g. toothpaste). Includes both useless irritants (e.g. fragrance), as well as useful ones (e.g retinoids, acne medication).
Stress & lack of sleep.
Aging can be a “villain” too, but it’s usually not the main offender. Dry skin can happen at any age.
Disrupt the skin defense barrier. This natural barrier protects skin from loosing water and helps keep bacteria & pollution out of our skin and body.
Because of the disruption, skin looses too much water and feels tight, uncomfortable and can start to flake. The surface of the skin feels and look rough, uneven and dull.
Skin gets irritated and inflamed easier. It becomes more sensitive. Breakouts can appear or worsen.
The strategy against the dry skin villains is the same for any age and gender. When it comes to combating skin dryness, it doesn't matter if you are 18 or 85.
Whenever possible, eliminate the villain, decrease the frequency of contact with it, or see if you can lessen the harm. Example: in case of heating, you can use a room humidifier. In case of overwashing, you can wash your face with water and cleanser only once per day instead of two.
Help the skin to repair its barrier by using a good moisturizer. You can recognize a good moisturizer by the combination of these characteristics (you need all of them, not just one):
It includes ingredients called humectants. They bind water and help hydrate the surface of your skin. Good humectants are: glycerin, hyaluronic acid, peptides, urea, sodium PCA, beta-glucans.
It includes ingredients called emollients and/or occlusives. These ingredients work as lubricants. They soften the upper layer of the skin and help slow down the water loss. Good emollients are: ceramides, dimethicone, sunflower seed oil, mineral oil, shea butter.
It includes additional skin barrier helpers. These ingredients help restore skin’s own production of the molecules needed for a healthy barrier. These helper ingredients include niacinamide, colloidal oatmeal extract, low concentrations of lactobionic acid or lactic acid.
It does not include irritating ingredients like fragrance (synthetic or natural), certain preservatives (such as methylchloroisothiazolinone, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, imidazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin) and plant extracts that do not have solid evidence of safety in skincare (natural ingredients can be irritating to skin because they are complex substances often produced to defend plants against the environment. Think poison ivy).
If your skin feels dry, use your moisturizer at least twice daily and as frequently as you feel your skin needs it.
It is a good idea to adopt a preventative strategy and apply a moisturizer twice daily to support your skin barrier on a regular basis.
If you know your skin is going to encounter a villain (e.g. cold windy weather while you are out skiing or a long aiplane flight) you can use thicker, heavier moisturizers or so called barrier creams packed with emollients to add the extra-strength to your skin defenses.
If you are concerned about dry skin, or your skin health and glow in general, you should be using a sunscreen (SPF 30 +) every time you are outside or close to a window in daylight.
Do not use humectants on their own. For example, using a hyaluronic acid serum or hydrating mist without following up with a moisturizer with emollients can lead to more dehydration, because in dry air environment the humectants can be pulling water out of your skin and letting it evaporate in the air faster.
Do not use oils and other emollients instead of a moisturizer. If there is not enough water in the skin, a protective barrier on top of the dehydrated skin will not help to add enough moisture to it.
Do not use many products at once. One good moisturizer is usually enough. The more products you use, the more likely you are to irritate your skin, adding to the disruption of the barrier function.
** Please note this is not medical advice. This resource is provided for educational purposes only. If you suffer from or suspect eczema, melasma, psoriasis, acne, or other skin disease seek advice of a medical professional. The information provided in this guide is intended for adults. Seek advice from your paediatrician to select skincare for babies and children.