There’s always someone in your social circle that seems to have healthy, glowing, and hydrated skin all year long. You may assume they know some secret to moisturizing that you simply don’t because – let’s face it – most of us struggle with little patches of dry skin.
The face is a common place to find dry spots and sometimes they even appear flaky. It’s annoying when applying makeup and it can feel as if no matter what you do, they simply won’t go away. I field a lot of questions from customers complaining about little itchy, flaky patches in various spots, but usually we notice them and are bothered by them when we find them on our face.
The good news is dry skin patches can be a thing of the past- you simply need to know a few facts about your skin and understand what products can work some magic and how to use them effectively.
Is Your Dry Skin Really Dry Skin?
The first really important item on the dry skin checklist is to determine if your skin is really dry or simply dehydrated – because there is a difference.
Dehydrated skin is skin that doesn’t have enough water. While you can certainly have both dehydrated and dry skin, it’s important to understand the subtle distinction between the two.
You can tell your skin is dehydrated by these signs:
- Dull skin
- Sunken eyes
- Increased appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Shadows on the face, especially around the nose and eyes
Having dehydrated skin likely means that your entire body is dehydrated, so make sure to keep your water bottle on you all day to sip away. Getting enough water will help your skin and your overall health.
Another cause of dehydrated skin is your skin lacking the ability to hold water, so if you're drinking plenty of fluids every day and your skin is still dehydrated, it may not be producing very much hyaluronic acid (HA) and using products that contain HA could remedy that.
Dry skin isn’t producing or maintaining enough natural oils. While many people think of oily skin as a bad thing, the truth is that your skin naturally produces oil that helps to moisturize your skin. This natural oil, called sebum, helps your skin to retain water for it to stay hydrated. Skin that is too oily can suffer from breakouts, but skin needs its natural sebum to maintain a moisture barrier and keep the skin looking healthy. If you don’t have enough natural oil, then you may notice these symptoms of dry skin:
- Redness or irritation
- Scaly-looking skin
Some skin conditions can cause dry skin, such as eczema and psoriasis. If you’re concerned about these conditions, then make sure to discuss it with your dermatologist.
The Causes of Dry Skin
What causes dry skin? There are a variety of reasons your skin may not be making enough natural oils to seal moisture in. Some of the most common include:
As we get older, our skin loses its ability to produce enough sebum naturally. Without enough natural sebum, there is less moisture in the skin. That’s why many people begin to struggle with dry skin as they get older. Our production of growth hormones takes a dive during "middle age". Our production of Hyaluronic Acid (HA) is controlled by our growth hormones, so we start making less of that vital skin component. Little molecules of HA sit in the skin, acting as water reservoirs. HA can hold about 1,000 times its weight in water and without it, our skin is more susceptible to dehydration.
Where you live has a huge influence on the health of your skin, especially the sensitive skin on your face. If you live in a dry, hot climate then your body works harder to keep your skin properly moisturized and hydrated. If you live someplace cold and windy, it can dry out the skin too. Here in Central Oregon, we have it all- hot, dry, cold and windy, so we've become experts in formulating products to protect our skin from the harsh elements.
Some lifestyle choices can have a huge impact on the health of our skin, sucking moisture away and leading to dry patches of skin on the face (and other parts of you, too).
Some lifestyle factors that can lead to dry skin include:
- UV Exposure (both outdoors and at tanning salons)
- Smoking - nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, limiting circulation in the skin
- Excessive alcohol consumption - alcohol is dehydrating in general
- Being sedentary - moving and sweating increases circulation of oxygen, oil, blood and nutrients to our skin.
It’s always a good idea to think about what lifestyle choices we're making when we're struggling with a chronic skin issue.
Our DNA can also have a huge impact on the dryness of our skin. Sometimes dry skin can run in families. So, take a look around at the faces of the people you’re related to. If they show signs of dry skin and have struggled with it, chances are you do too. Talk to members of your family about the skin issues they may struggle with. Remember, no skin type is bad or good, but it’s essential to understand your skin type to know how to take care of it and what products to use.
Dry Skin Myths
Before delving into how to deal with patches of dry skin, it’s important to weed out a few of the ideas floating around about dry skin that simply aren’t true. Some of the most common myths out there about dry skin include:
MYTH: DON’T EXFOLIATE DRY SKIN
At aos, we recommend using an exfoliating scrub or mask a couple of times per week. There’s no reason not to do this even if you have dry skin. Why? Because even skin that is dry and flaky needs deep moisture penetration. Gently exfoliating the skin can help to get rid of dead skin cells and makes it easier for your skin to accept the moisture it needs from other products you apply after the exfoliation.
MYTH: THE MORE MOISTURE, THE BETTER
Too much is not always better. Using too much moisturizer and moisturizing products on dry skin can lead to clogged pores and breakouts. This is because applying too much moisturizer causes dead skin cells to build up instead of naturally falling away, which can send you straight to Breakout City. We need to find the perfect balance.
MYTH: THE THICKER THE MOISTURIZER, THE BETTER
Don’t judge a dry skin product by its thickness. Just because something is thicker does not mean that it’s going to deliver what your skin needs for proper moisture. Sometimes the lighter products will work better for dry skin because they penetrate faster and absorb quicker too. The trick is in finding the one that makes your skin happiest. I like to switch my nighttime moisturizer as the weather turns colder.
MYTH: HOT SHOWERS & STEAM WILL HYDRATE SKIN
Showers are important for the health of your skin, but it is possible to get too much of a good thing. The truth is that hot showers can damage your skin, causing the blood vessels to dilate and stripping the skin of its natural oils. This can have the undesirable effect of making skin even drier. This doesn’t mean you should avoid showers, but make sure the water isn’t too hot and limit yourself to under 10 minutes.
This applies even if you’re simply washing your face in the morning or at night. Don’t use hot water, but warm water.
How to Treat Dry Skin
There are a variety of ways you can address patches of dry skin. Make sure to add these things into your skincare routine:
THINK ABOUT YOUR CLEANSERS
It’s important to steer clear of any cleansers that are formulated with sulfates, such as sodium laureth sulfate, lauryl sulfate, and ammonium laureth sulfate. This ingredient cuts oil from your skin and is way too harsh for skin that’s struggling to maintain its natural moisture barrier.
Choose a facial cleanser for your skincare routine that washes away dead skin cells without stripping moisture from the skin. Sticking with something sulfate-free should help. Fortunately for you, we don't use sulfates in any of our products!
YOUTH IN BLOOM HYDRATING CLEANSER
APRICOT CLEANSING OIL
APPLE CHAMOMILE CLEANSING GEL
ROSE & CARDAMOM CLEANSER
Buffing away dead skin cells is vital to making sure the products you apply to your skin can penetrate and get where they can do the most good. That’s why you should exfoliate at least once per week. It’ll help the moisturizers you apply to work better and help to rebuild your skin’s natural lipid layer. I like to use a gentle scrub two or three times a week and a chemical peel once a week.
CUCUMBER FACE POLISH
COCONUT LACTIC PEEL
Facial serums are a great product to have in your skincare apothecary. I'll admit that I have several! One for every occasion. Apply a hydrating serum before you apply a moisturizer- facial oils are fantastic. If you think your skin is dry due to aging, then I recommend using our Youth in Bloom Firming Serum. It’ll help with dryness while also addressing collagen loss and thinning skin that leads to fine lines and wrinkles. If your skin barrier is damaged (read this blog post if you aren't sure), I recommend trying the Apple Stem Cell Radiance Serum to help build up your moisture barrier.
YOUTH IN BLOOM PHYTOACTIVE FIRMING SERUM
APPLE STEM CELL RADIANCE SERUM
Make Sure to Moisturize
After cleansing your face, using an alcohol-free facial toner, and applying a serum, you should moisturize right away. Leaving skin bare will start to dehydrate it – something you’re trying to avoid. Some of the best moisturizers for dry skin that we love include:
Moisturize at Night
I've been asked many times if we should let our skin “breathe” at night. It's important to wash your face at the end of the day, removing makeup, dust, pollution, etc. and that's enough to let it "breathe". Moisturizing at night is super important as well, especially if you’re struggling with dry skin in the first place. As we head into the colder months, the heaters in our homes dry out the air, making moisturizing even more vital.
Our skin is at its most permeable at night, making it the ideal time to apply a good nighttime treatment and moisturizer that can go to work as you sleep. We make several nighttime moisturizers that range from lighter, like the Saving Grace Night Cream, to very heavy - the Herbal Night Cream. In-between and for those of us who aren't getting any younger is the wildly popular Youth in Bloom Firming Night Cream. Unsure of which to choose? Remember you can buy our new facial "Minis" and try them all!
HUMIDIFY YOUR HOME
If you don’t have one already, you may want to consider adding a humidifier to your home or office. Keeping the air adequately moist will ensure that your skin can stay hydrated too. I've been loving my new Homedics Total Comfort Humidifier. It holds tons of water so I don't have to constantly refill it.
WEAR YOUR SUNSCREEN
I'm a big believer that sunscreen must be a part of an everyday skincare routine. Apply it each morning to help shield your skin from the harmful rays of the sun that can damage your skin, no matter what time of the year it is. Even on cloudy days, it’s important to protect your skin. We add natural mineral sunscreen (either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) to all of our "daytime" moisturizers, so you don't have to remember to wear your sunscreen. Just put on your daily moisturizer and you're good to go!
You Don’t Need to Live with Dry Skin
We all suffer from dry skin from time to time. Chances are, as you get older it will become an issue you will need to address. We're here to help you address those issues. Following these tips and using the products we recommend can help you to tackle patches of dry skin before they start, paving the way for healthy, glowing skin no matter what.