Dry skin is annoying. You try to keep it in check, but dryness, irritation and sensitivity keep coming back - and sometimes the irritation causes redness or spots! So what can you do?
You know your natural barrier function is what protects your delicate skin. You know it's a function of the lipids at the surface of your skin and the sebum secreted through your pores. But are you looking after it? A compromised barrier is one of the most common causes of dryness and sensitivity. So take a moment to understand it's needs.
Your barrier forms a naturally protective layer. It is made of "fatty" substances. Because they are generally oil-soluble they provide a natural defence against water, but can easily be stripped by solvents and surfactants (the foaming substances in soaps and detergents). It is slightly acidic, so it can also be compromised by alkaline (or base) substances.
A compromised barrier can repair or "patch" itself, but this takes time. Many people who complain of ongoing dryness or sensitivity experience these problems because they are compromising their barrier every time it has started to heal itself. Upsetting the balance can cause both short-term and long-term damage. Read on to find out how you can avoid this.
Cleansing is essential, but each time you cleanse you risk compromising your natural barrier. If you have dry skin avoid harsh sulfates (specifically Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate). They are usually found in cleansers and are common irritants because of the way they can over-strip oils. We recommend you take a moment to check the ingredient lists of your cleansers and shampoos; you will find these sulfates in a large number of products. Also avoid bar soaps for facial cleansing as they are usually alkaline (base) and attack your natural barrier. Try progressively more gentle facial cleansers until your skin starts to tell you it's not so upset!
In the right circumstances warm or even hot water feels incredibly soothing. But hot water can damage capillaries in your skin and soften and strip natural oils, compromising your natural barrier. Excessively cold water can also irritate skin, so always wash your face in cool or room-temperature water.
It may sound counterintuitive, harsh and downright dangerous to be exfoliating your dry or irritable skin, but exfoliating encourages cellular turnover. The lipids between the skin cells at the surface of your skin, are made as a by-product of cell turnover, so increased cell turnover can actually help to patch and maintain your barrier function and produce a better complexion!
This will be a matter of trial and error and you may have to go through a few different experiments with gentle exfoliation before you find the regimen that suits your skin. But when you find one that works, you'll know it. Everything comes down to your own results, but you probably shouldn't be exfoliating more than 1 or 2 times a week. As much as gentle exfoliation can help to soothe dryness, over-exfoliating can over-strip your barrier, taking you off the path you seek.
You know this one already, this is likely your go-to solution! But note that we've listed it right at the end. It is much more important to ensure that you are looking after your barrier, before you settle on the right moisturizer. Once you have reviewed your skincare regimen, you may find that your skin is balancing itself better and doesn't require such a heavy moisturizer.
The key here is to avoid the extremes of over-stripping your skin, then having to over-moisturize it. Try to stay closer to "comfortable" all the time. Finding your own balance is key!
Your skin will react to changes in lifestyle and climate so traveling and changes in seasons will impact your dry skin. Experiment with different treatments when traveling and as the climate around you changes. It is likely to mean different products for different seasons.
THE TEMPTRESS - Vitamin Lotion Cleanser
THE ALCHEMIST - Pomegranate Enzyme Exfoliator
THE TEMPEST - Antioxidant Toner / Mist
THE SHEPHERD - Balancing Moisturizer
THE ANTIOXIDANT STARTER KIT - Normal to Dry Skin
Thanks for reading!
ALEXIARES & ANI