If you’re one of the countless people in the world that deals with skin that seems to resist moisture, is itchy, prone to flaking, or looks ashy, chances are you’re suffering from dry skin. While dry skin can be uncomfortable and sometimes look less than appealing, the good news is, unless you are dealing with a severe dry skin condition, this skin type is relatively easy to treat and maintain. As with any skin type, the key to helping dry skin look and feel its best starts with a solid skincare routine and products that will work with your skin, not against it. With dry skin, it all comes down to hydration so keeping skin moisturized should be the number one focus.
What is Dry Skin
Dry skin can be characterized in many different ways but the most common signs are universal. People with dry skin usually find that the skin is rough or scaly to the touch and can become itchy. As far as appearance, the common signs of dry skin include flaking and for those with deeper skin tones, skin can look ashy. Those with severe dry skin may even notice that skin can become cracked or even experience bleeding. This is typically an indication of a more extreme dry skin condition and should be treated by a dermatologist.
It’s important to know that anyone can suffer from dry skin even if it’s typically not your skin type. Unlike other skin types, dry skin can be brought on by a number of different factors as well as simple genetic makeup. People may go through phases where they deal with dry skin whether during certain seasons or even during certain circumstances. For example, many people experience dry skin during the winter season as both the cold air outside and indoor heating can suck moisture out of the skin. Using drying products is another common reason people may find themselves dealing with dry skin. Fortunately, these types of instances and even those with normally dry skin, restoring and hydrating skin is a relatively easy process.
Dry Skin Care
When it comes to dry skin, one of the main concerns is moisture. While dry skin can occur due to a number of factors including genetics and environment, a direct result of a lack moisture in the skin is typically at the core of the problem so any effects will usually be resolved once moisture is restored. Before we get into how you can keep skin moisturized, first let’s talk about ways to prevent moisture loss in the first place. People with dry skin actually need to start their skin care even before they get into selecting products. There are a few simple things you can do to ensure your skin retains as much moisture as possible under any circumstance. When you’re out and about, always make sure you carry a cream or lotion with you to apply throughout the day. If you’ll be in the house, add some moisture to the air with a humidifier. And when you hit the shower, keep it short and sweet. Just five to ten minutes in a warm—not hot—shower is all you need to ensure skin does not dry out.
For your dry skin care routine, it will look similar to any other. Cleansing the skin should be first and foremost, but with dry skin, it is essential to use a gentle cleanser that is super moisturizing. This is key because using the wrong cleanser can strip your skin of its moisture making it that much harder to keep skin hydrated. In order to find the best cleanser for your dry skin, you’ll have to pay special attention to ingredients. Many soaps and cleansers contain sulfates which give the cleanser it’s foaming, sudsy texture. Sulfates are notoriously drying so it’s best to steer clear of any products that contain them. You’ll also want to avoid using products that contain alcohol on dry skin as this is another culprit known to be excessively drying to the skin. Other ingredients that are no good for dry skin are things like peppermint, eucalyptus, menthol, and mint. Although these can be considered natural based, they are known irritants which can make dry, itchy skin worse. That being said, gel based cleansers will most likely be the best option for dry skin or any cleansers that contain a combination of hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid which helps skin retain moisture, ceramides which are known for their soothing properties, and glycerin which is a common ingredient used to attract water to the skin.
One step that people with dry skin tend to overlook is exfoliating. While over-exfoliating can dry out or irritate the skin, proper exfoliation using the right products can be a tremendous help. Exfoliating will help remove dead skin cells and allow the skin to effectively absorb the moisture and nutrients it needs. To give the dry skin on face an extra boost, try using an exfoliator that contains alpha and beta hydroxy acids to stimulate skin’s natural reproduction process. Always follow up an exfoliating session with a hydrating moisturizer packed with skin nourishing ingredients and antioxidants. The best moisturizer to restore dry skin on face will have a combination of ingredients and benefits that will work to hydrate, soften, and smooth the skin. You can even follow your standard moisturizer with a sealing oil to help lock in moisture. Olive, grapeseed, and jojoba oil are all great options.
Extremely Dry Skin Conditions
For a small segment of people that have dry skin, a more severe condition may be the cause. If you find yourself experiencing extremely dry skin that doesn’t seem to get better with proper maintenance, it could be possible that you have dermatitis. Dermatitis is a general term used to describe skin inflammation. This can include the common signs associated with dry skin like flaking, itchiness, ashy appearance, or isolated patches of dryness across the skin. In reality, dermatitis can include a host of different skin conditions that typically need to be treated by a dermatologist.
Dermatitis includes four types of extremely dry skin conditions. The first is allergic dermatitis which typically occurs upon an allergic reaction. With allergic dermatitis, dry skin will become increasingly itchy and may even appear scaly in appearance. This type of dermatitis is also known as eczema and is stimulated by allergens which make dry skin even worse. The second type is atopic dermatitis which typically a genetic condition that is passed down. It simply means a life long battle with extremely dry skin. The third type is contact dermatitis which is when skin becomes severely dry due to coming in contact with a chemical or irritant. And the final type is seborrheic dermatitis which is an interesting condition in infants where dry skin actually produces too much oil. This overproduction causes skin to become red and patchy. You’ll commonly find seborrheic dermatitis on the scalp.
Whether you have a hereditary, normal, or even an extremely dry skin condition that needs to be treated by a professional, the good news is that with proper care and some lifestyle changes, dry skin can be maintained and restored to a healthy, hydrated state.