Why is My Face So Dry?
If you have dry skin, you’re not alone. Dry skin is among the most common of all skin problems, and on the face of it, dry skin doesn’t sound like to much of a big deal, but trust me, it is if you have it. In having dry skin, your skin not only looks and feels rough but you’re also more likely to experience scaling and flaking, it may even be red or itchy and on top of all of that, having dry skin can put years on you. Dry skin makes your skin look older because it accentuates fine lines and wrinkles. All things being equal, that’s probably not what you want, right?
Fortunately, dry skin is a problem that responds well to lifestyle and changes in how you care for your skin. So, why do some people have dry skin and what can you do about it?
What Causes Dry Skin?
As you might expect, there is no single factor that results in us having dry skin. Unfortunately there are a number of contributors including lifestyle, environment, genetics and even your age.
Let’s be more specific: Your skin has a natural protective barrier that holds in water. This barrier is made up of fatty substances called fatty acids, cholesterol and ceramides that protect against moisture loss. If you have dry skin, you may not have enough fatty acids and ceramides in your skin to prevent moisture loss. As a result, you begin to experience roughness, flaking and scaling. Frustrating isn’t it?
In some cases, you have your parents to blame for dry skin. Yes, genetics do play a role in dry skin. (Thank you mom and dad!) But genetics aren’t the only factor. You can damage your skin’s protective barrier by using soaps or skin care products that contain alcohol or other harsh chemicals.
The environment you live in plays a role too. If your living environment is dry, the air pulls moisture from your skin. One way to correct this is to add a humidifier to your home. The goal? To keep the humidity between 30 and 50%. Not surprisingly, winter is the worst season for dry skin thanks to the cold temperatures, wind and lack of moisture in the air.
Aging is a factor too. For women, around the time of menopause skin usually becomes dryer. This is partially due to hormonal changes, specifically a decline in estrogen. If you’re taking medications or have certain medical problems like an underactive thyroid it can make your dry skin worse.
Fighting Dry Skin: What Can You Do about It?
If you’ve optimized the humidity in your home, take a closer look at your skin care routine and your diet. What you put into your body is as important as what you put on it when it comes to keeping your skin moist and healthy.
First, make sure the cleanser you’re using is as mild as possible. If you’re using soap, switch to a soap-free cleanser. Most soaps are too harsh for dry skin. If you use soap, make sure it’s made for dry or sensitive skin and has added oils or fats. When you wash, use lukewarm water – never hot. Hot water will dry your skin out further.
The most important (and quick win easy) step you can take to keep your skin moist is to use a moisturizer. Moisturizers help dry skin in a number of different ways. Some contain ingredients that attract water from the environment onto your skin. Others act as a barrier to prevent moisture loss. Still others fill in the areas that are dry and damaged with much needed oils and fats. Look for a moisturizer made for dry skin. The moisturizer you choose should be oil-based – not water-based.
Some ingredients to look for are hyaluronic acid, ceramides, lanolin, glycerin or urea. Look for one that are fragrance free and ones that are also free of parabens. Fragrance and parabens can be irritating to your skin, especially if you have sensitive skin. Some anti-aging moisturizers contain other beneficial ingredients like glycolic acid or lactic acid. These ingredients help to slough off dead skin cells. They make your skin feel smoother and look brighter but can also increase peeling and flaking. Use them with care!
Now that you have your moisturizer, how should you use it? Apply it twice a day, right after cleansing with a gentle cleanser. Moisturizers are most effective if your skin is still slightly damp. Be consistent if you want to see your dry skin improve.
Nutrition for Dry Skin
Your body needs essential fatty acids to keep your skin moist and healthy. If you’re eating a very low-fat diet you may not be supplying your body with the essential fats it needs. You can get more of these essential fats by eating fatty fish like salmon or taking a fish oil capsule. Other good sources are flaxseeds, nuts and olive oil. Deficiencies of some including vitamin A and E can contribute to dry skin. People who go on very low calorie or low fat diets often develop dry skin. Make sure your diet is nutritionally sound and contains enough essential fatty acids.
Vitamin A rich foods:
- Sweet Potato
- Dark Leafy Greens (Kale, Spinach)
- Squash (Butternut)
- Cos or Romaine Lettuce
- Dried Apricots
- Cantaloupe Melon
- Sweet Red Peppers
- Tuna Fish and Mango & Papaya.
Vitamin E rich foods:
- Tofu (if you like that kind of thing!)
- Nuts (Almonds & Hazelnuts)
- Sunflower Seeds
- Shellfish (Shrimp & Crayfish)
- Fish (Rainbow Trout, Herring, smoked Salmon)
- Plant Oils (Olive Oil, Wheat Germ, Sunflower, Grapeseed)
Incorporate plenty of these foods into your diet and you’ll be well on your way to conquering dry, flaky skin.
The Bottom Line?
Dry skin – it’s no fun to have but there are things you can do to correct it. Moisturizer is your most important ally when it comes to treating dry skin – along with a healthy diet that’s not too low in fat, and we couldn’t sign off without reminding you of the wonderful benefits facial massage. A self administered facial massage can transform the condition of your skin.