What Causes Dry Skin?
by Deborah Spalla
Dry skin is the antithesis of healthy, glowing and youthful skin. Dry skin causes everything from dull skin to flaky skin, not to mention itchy, red, raw or cracked skin – yikes! Plus, dry skin will always make you look older than you are because it causes crepe papery wrinkles and creases that add years to your face, neck, chest, and arms.
The good news is that dry skin is almost always treatable via healthy lifestyle habits and a personalized skincare regimen that transitions according to the climate, where you live, your age and your lifestyle.
5 Typical Causes of Dry Skin
Here are some of the most common causes of dry skin. We should note that we’re going to leave out specific skin conditions, like eczema or psoriasis, because these fall into different skincare brackets. However, if you are someone who suffers from either of those conditions, dry skin will certainly exacerbate them so it’s still important to take care of your skin as a whole, which reduces flare-ups and minimizes their effects.
Changes in climate and/or geography
Humidity plays a large role in skin health. Any changes in climate or geographic location that shift your body from higher to lower humidity values will show up on your skin. Just as you need less moisturizer – or a differently formulated moisturizer – when you take a vacation in a humid, tropical climate, shifts from summer to fall and winter tend to dry out our skin.
That being said, everybody’s skin is different. Scheduling a consultation with a licensed aesthetician is the best way to find out what type of skin you have, address any issues that affect your skin, and to select seasonal or geographically suited skincare products that will provide adequate cleansing, toning and be moisturizing all year long.
Bonus tip: Don’t forget to monitor humidity levels in your home. Heated and conditioned air can dry out your skin, regardless of the weather or where you live. Healthy indoor humidity levels range from about 40% to 50%. Consider using humidifiers or dehumidifiers, depending on what your humidity gauge says.
Did you know “pinch tests” are used to determine whether patients or senior care clients are adequately hydrated or not? Gently pinch the skin on the back of your hand while it’s relaxed. The pinched skin should spring right back into place when it’s released. If it doesn’t, it’s a sign that you’re dehydrated.
Hydration is critical for healthy cell function including the cells that comprise the three main layers of your skin. The first key to keeping hydrated is to make sure you’re drinking enough water throughout the day. Ideally, our bodies like to have about eight, 8-ounce glasses of water per day.
The second key to prevent skin dryness is to avoid overconsumption of foods/beverages that dehydrate you, such as sugary drinks, salty foods, iced coffee and tea and alcohol.
It may seem counterintuitive to follow dehydration up with water. The reality is that hard water is hard on skin. The minerals found in hard water – magnesium, zinc, and lead – coat your skin. This prevents oil glands from being able to do their job, resulting in dry skin.
If you have hard water, consider switching to a soft water system (your hair and skin will thank you). If that’s not an option, let your aesthetician know (she probably already asked) and she’ll recommend adding skin care products that include vitamins A and C.
The good news is you shower daily and launder clothes regularly. The bad news is you might be cleaning your skin and face with conventional soaps that strip skin of the natural oils it needs to keep moisture in. Also, your laundry detergent might be filled with synthetic chemicals or fragrances (see below).
Body oil gets a bad rap. While overly active sebaceous glands can cause skin problems, the bulk of us has healthy oil levels that lead to beautiful, vibrant skin and hair.
Instead of using conventional soaps and detergents, opt for those that advertise being “fragrance-free,” made for sensitive skin or manufactured with gentle, natural ingredients.
Health & Beauty products with fragrance
The term ‘fragrance’ is overly vague and usually means synthetic chemicals were mixed together to create a natural scent. Unfortunately, these chemicals – often involving alcohols – are very drying to the skin. They can also cause allergies, set the stage for acne, cause or exacerbate eczema and psoriasis, etc.
Start reading the labels on your health, beauty and skincare products, avoiding those with chemicals and fake “fragrance,” replacing them with earth-friendly, human-friendly, truly natural alternatives.
Do you have the telltale tightness, itchy and whitish or flaky symptoms of dry skin? Visit us here at Skin Deep, where a professional consultation and personalized skin care recommendations will keep your skin moisturized and healthy all year long.