Easy Ways to Treat Dry Skin on your Face
Having dry skin on your face can be a real burden. It might be itchy, or flaky, sore, irritated, and even painful at times. Dry skin makes it hard to wear makeup, as the product will crumble just at application. If you’ve been frustrated by dry skin for a while, this article is for you! We go through why your skin is dry, the science behind it, and what you can do to easily treat your dry skin.
What is Dry Skin?
Dry skin does not have to do with hydration, that’s dehydrated skin, but the difference can be lost on many people. Dry skin is due to a lack of oil and lipids. It can be genetic and depends very much on the oil glands in your skin. The skin all over the body has a dry and flaky look, and some other common issues you might see is a scaly appearance, white flakes of dry skin, some form of redness and irritation, and even other skin conditions like eczema.
The outermost layer of the skin, the epidermis, is affected by the humidity levels. The epidermal cells are arranged akin to the tiles on a roof and are held together by a “glue” made of lipids (fats), which is what keeps the skin cells nice and flat, making them smooth and neat. When this glue that holds them together gets loosened by the low humidity levels, this causes the water in the skin cells to escape, hence causing a drop in moisture levels and hence the aforementioned dryness of the skin.
The Skin’s Anatomy
There are three layers to the skin: the subcutaneous fat, dermis, and the abovementioned epidermis. The subcutaneous layer is the innermost layer consisting of fats which keep us well-insulated from the cold and also provide storage for energy and absorbs shock. The dermis is the middle layer above the subcutaneous layer. It is made of blood vessels, sebaceous glands, and hair follicles. The epidermis is the thinnest, topmost layer of the skin. This is the layer that gets dry and is made of cells that are stacked and continuously replenish, meaning old layers will fall off.
The aim of moisturizing is to rehydrate the epidermis and lock in moisture that is lost from a damaged skin barrier. There are numerous types of moisturizing ingredients that can do this. Humectants can attract and draw in moisture. Some known and common humectants include substances like ceramides, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and lecithin. There are also substances called occlusives, which are the ones that keep the moisture in the skin by creating a barrier on the epidermis to seal it in. Common occlusives are petroleum jelly, silicone, lanolin, and mineral oil. The last group of moisturizers is emollients, which create smoother skin by filling in the gaps between the skin cells. Some common emollients are lauric acid, linolenic acid, and linoleic acid. These ingredients all work by sealing in moisture and hence trapping it in the skin.
What Causes Dry Skin?
Apart from your genetics, these external factors and lifestyle might be playing a role in contributing to your dry skin!
1. Your skincare and body lotions have fragrance
Fragrance tends to bring irritation to dry skin and can also exacerbate the dryness. Although fragrances make us smell nice they can impart scent on the skin through a very volatile reaction and can act as a sensitizer on the skin, causing itchiness, redness, and dryness. Check your products, especially deodorants, body lotions, and even moisturizers for fragrance.
2. Your retinol is irritating your skin
Retinols are excellent products for anti-aging and preventing wrinkles, by boosting the rate of cell turnover. However, retinoids also cause a lot of irritation and it might be exacerbated if your skin is naturally quite dry. What retinoids do is loosen the glue that holds the epidermal cells together, which is how water escapes and dries the skin out. But that does not mean you have to cut retinoids out of your regimen totally. Try cutting down the number of times you use it, instead of every day try once or twice a week and see how that affects your skin.
3. Your soap is stripping your skin of oil
Body wash and shampoo often contain ingredients with the purpose of removing oil to clean your body and hair, but this has the added effect of stripping moisture from the skin. Remember that oil is what gives your skin moisture, and if you are already someone who has naturally lower levels of oil production in the body, your shampoos and body washes will likely strip even more oil, leading to dryness of the skin. Stay away from bar soaps as they are quite harsh on the skin. A formula that is gentle and does not cause your skin to feel tight or dry is a good option.
Remedies for Dry Skin
Here are some easy ways you can alleviate dry skin, through a mix of lifestyle changes and some easy home remedies!
1. Wash your face with milk
If your dryness causes inflammation, try washing your face with milk! Milk has lactic acid, which is a gentle exfoliant, and also has vitamins A, D, K, and protein, making it a great hydrator. It additionally has anti-inflammatory properties, making it an ideal, easy, and cheap natural way to alleviate sensitive and irritated skin! Soak a towel in some milk and hold it against your skin for five to ten minutes.
2. Apply your moisturizer right after showering or washing your face.
Moisturizers work by sealing existing moisture in your skin. Since you need some moisture and water in order for the moisturizer to lock it in, apply it right after you wash your face or take a bath. This allows the moisturizer to work more effectively and efficiently when there is some water to trap.
3. Don’t stay in the shower for too long
Lingering in a hot shower or bath is one of the comforts in life. Sadly, hot baths and showers are culprits for dry skin, and you should try to wrap up your shower as soon as you can. Take quicker showers, and immediately apply a body moisturizer once you get out. The skin should be damp when you apply moisturizers to let it penetrate the skin more deeply. You can also double up the moisture by adding body oil to your routine. Apply a light body oil before layering on some nice, rich body cream or lotion.
If your dry skin persists or gets worse, it might be a sign of something more serious such as psoriasis or eczema. Go to a dermatologist if you are unsure and get it checked! They can more accurately prescribe you with medication.