Dry skin looks flaky, dull and rough. Depending on the severity of the dryness, the skin can also feel itchy. Dry skin also wrinkles easily, and fine lines tend to be very visible. It’s safe to say that dry skin is more than just an unwelcome nuisance.
However, dry skin isn’t always genetic, and can actually be caused by a variety of things that we do to our skin every day.
If you haven’t always had dry skin, then some other variable in your life is probably contributing to the flakiness you’re experiencing.
THE TOP NINE CAUSES OF DRY SKIN
⦁ HARSH SOAPS AND DETERGENTS
Problem: The number one cause of dry skin is the use of harsh cleansers or detergents that come in contact with the skin.
Does your skin feel tight or dry after cleansing? Or does it become extremely oily a few hours after cleansing? Then you’re probably using a cleanser that’s too harsh for your skin.
Harsh or stripping soaps contribute to dry skin by removing the necessary lipids and proteins that we need to maintain our skin’s moisture barrier.
Solution: Use a mild, pH-balanced cleanser and fragrance-free detergents that are gentler on your skin.
Problem: The second most common cause of dry skin is over-cleansing.
Clean skin is important, especially when you have acne, wear sunscreen or makeup, sweat a lot, etc. But there is such a thing as too much cleansing, and sometimes we overdo it. Our skin needs to have enough time to normalize in between washes.
Solution: Cleanse your skin only as often as twice a day and try to get away with just rinsing with water in the morning if you can.
⦁ LACK OF MOISTURE
Problem: If you skip the necessary step of moisturizing or use a moisturizer that isn’t suitable for your skin type, then your skin isn’t getting the essential moisture it needs.
Solution: A simple, supportive moisturizer is key. You need something that will penetrate the skin, hydrate effectively, and keep the moisture locked in, like Drunk Elephant’s Protini Polypeptide Cream.
⦁ EXTREME HEAT
Problem: If you’re like me and you love a hot shower, you’ll be sad to learn that all the high-temperature time in the tub can wreak havoc on your skin, causing it to dry out.
Similarly, skin exposure to extreme hot and cold climates can also cause dry skin.
Solution: Protect your skin from the elements and keep your cleansing water tepid if you want to avoid irritating dry skin.
⦁ USING TOO MANY ACTIVE INGREDIENTS
Problem: Active ingredients like AHAs, retinol, salicylic acid, and benzoyl peroxide can all help alleviate dry skin and increase the skin’s moisture content. They each offer many unique benefits, but because it’s not easy to find a place in our routine for them all, we end up piling too much on our skin.
Using too many active ingredients in a routine can then contribute to dry skin by over-exfoliating.
Solution: Alternate the use of active ingredients, and don’t forget to give your skin a break from acids every now and then.
⦁ SUN EXPOSURE
Problem: If you don’t wear sunscreen, your dry skin and facial peeling could be attributed to overexposure to the sun’s damaging UV rays.
Solution: Limit time in direct sunlight and use a sunscreen that’s suitable for your skin.
⦁ SENSITIVE SKIN
Problem: If you have very sensitive skin, your dry skin could be caused by your skin’s reaction to innocuous ingredients and aggravators in the environment. For example, people with eczema have reduced skin barrier strength, and are prone to more dryness and moisture loss.
Solution: If this is the case, simplifying your skin care routine will help prevent dry skin. Avoiding irritants like fragrance, and ensuring you use a high-quality moisturizer will protect and hydrate your skin.
⦁ FUNGAL INFECTION
Problem: Fungal infections, caused by the same yeasts that cause Athlete’s Foot, can also infect our facial skin and cause some flaking skin and dryness. If you frequent gyms or have ever experienced a yeast infection or other fungal skin issues, it increases the likelihood that fungal infections are at the root of your dry skin.
Solution: Tackle the fungal infection with an anti-fungal cream.
⦁ LOW WATER INTAKE
Problem: How much water you need depends on a lot of variables, including your activity level and diet.
While there’s not much evidence that amount of water in a diet affects the amount of water content in the outer layer of the skin, we know that water is the sine qua non of life. Your kidneys need water to function, your brain needs water to function, and your skin – your body’s largest organ – needs water to function.
Solution: Ensure you’re drinking enough water every day to improve the symptoms of dry skin. Try drinking more green tea, which has other skin benefits, and eating fruits and vegetables with high water content.
No matter what the cause of your dry skin is, genetics or otherwise, the most obvious solution is protecting your skin from damage and supplying your skin with an adequate and readily available source of moisture.
When you get really dry skin, what do you do to smooth out and rehydrate?