Dry Skin

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Major Causes

  • Drying environment: dry air from heating, dry weather, air conditioning, wind etc.
  • Overly washing skin (long shower) and/or overly exfoliating
  • Sunburn 
  • Irritating ingredients in skincare products (e.g. retinol, some fragrance)
  • Stress and sleep deprivation (more than you would expect)
  • Aging and genetic disposition

Consequences 

Dry skin negatively affects the skin's protective barrier. Protective barriers are the first line of defense against contaminants and bacteria from outside. It also helps retain moisture in your skin. So losing this barrier will create a vicious cycle of becoming drier. 

As a result, you will feel tight, begin to flake. And the skin's surface could appear dull and rough. 

Prevention Measures

Addressing the causes of dry skin would be the first step. Use a room humidifier if the heating system is causing dryness. Cut down on frequency and length of washing/shower. 

If the above are not the causes, using a good moisturizing skincare product can also help. These are what to look for in the ingredients:  

  • Humectants such as hyaluronic acid, tremella extract, glycerin, urea, sodium PCA. They attract water from the air and hold it on your skin  
  • Emollients: vegetable oils and butters (marula, avocado, rosehip, jojoba, borage etc.), ceramides are good emollients that softens skin layer and prevent dryness. 
  • Skin barrier strengthening actives: they help restore skin barrier. Niacinamide, panthenol, colloidal oatmeal extract are examples of such actives.

Tips

Most moisturizing skincare products are designed to be used as frequently as needed. You can use them at least twice daily to prevent dryness. And if your environment changes (e.g. cold winter, long airplane flight etc.), you might want to use products with heavier emollients (cream or butter type) before, during, and after. 

Also, using sunscreen when you are outside also helps. Exposure to the sun could be the cause of dryness. 

Finally, it is not recommended to use either emollients or humectants alone. If humectant(e.g. Hyaluronic acid) is used alone, it could lead to more dehydration in dry environments - the water attracted to skin will evaporate and leave the skin drier. Using emollient alone is less devastating but still not a good idea. There simply is not enough water to moisturize the skin barrier. 

DISCLAIMER: Statements here are not medical advice. This is not meant to replace the word of a doctor nor to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. Please consult your physician before using any products or ingredients listed here if you have any prior medical conditions or are pregnant.

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