An Expert Guide To Dry Skin

Most of us suffer from dry, tight skin at some point – and issues like redness and eczema can get worse in winter months. As well as using targeted products, it can help to make a few lifestyle changes. Here, two experts share their advice…
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Understand The Signs & Symptoms

“If your skin is dry, it may feel taut, itchy and rough to the touch,” explains consultant dermatologist Dr Justine Kluk. “Redness, cracking and flaking are also signs of dryness. Cold weather, harsh soaps and detergents, as well as long hot showers can exacerbate the issue, so keep all of this in mind, but know that dryness as a condition is very common. While you’d need confirmation from your GP, an underactive thyroid can also be a big cause of dry skin, so be sure to get this checked out if the problem continues to worsen.”

Use The Right Ingredients 

“You want to avoid anything too astringent and stripping both on your face and body,” says skincare expert and Scientia brand ambassador Tiffany Salmon. “I’m talking about ingredients like denatured alcohol – these can be very drying and dehydrating. I’d also avoid SLS’s (surfactants) which are often found in cleansers to aid foaming, but can further irritate dryness. Likewise, retinoids and salicylic acid can further dry out already sensitised skin, so take it easy and put them on pause while you treat the issue first.” 

Build The Right Routine

“I recommend using a very mild gel or cream cleanser for washing your skin, and moisturising generously at least twice daily,” says Justine. “Layer a hydrating serum underneath your moisturiser, or choose a slightly thicker cream than you’d normally use. In terms of ingredients, give glycerin, ceramides and hyaluronic acid a go. All three provide instant relief from dryness and lock in speedy moisture. As Tiffany said, it’s important you step down in frequency from certain ingredients, or hold off altogether. Try to alternate ingredients which brighten the skin while doubling up as barrier enhancers for extra moisture – this includes what I’ve just mentioned, but also niacinamide.” 

Don’t Over-Moisturise 

“Surprisingly, you can go over the top with moisturiser,” warns Tiffany. “Applying too much can cause your skin to become ‘lazy’, signalling to it that it has enough water, lipids and proteins. The result? A slowdown of your skin’s natural production of these important nutrients. While it’s paramount you use a moisturiser, do so sparingly and stick to application morning and night. I also advise using a gentle exfoliator – PHAs are brilliant for this – to remove dead skin cells, and any product build-up. This will also help your moisturiser to fully absorb and work to its best potential.” 

Cold weather, harsh soaps, as well as long hot showers can exacerbate the issue, so keep this in mind, but know that dryness is a common issue.

Follow Some Simple Life Hacks

“It’s not all in skincare,” advises Justine. “You have to make a few lifestyle changes too. For starters, keep any baths to under five minutes – especially if they’re boiling hot – or take a cooler shower instead. Immersing your skin in water for long periods may feel nice, but it has a huge impact on dryness. Your water should be lukewarm, never too hot. Another tip is to close your bathroom door when you shower to increase humidity, and in turn moisture within your skin. It’s worth using a soft towel like the new Resore ones (which are also antibacterial) to gently pat your skin. Never rub too hard or this again will exacerbate the issue. Finally, if you’re really suffering with dryness over hands and feet, pop a pair of cotton gloves over them to increase absorption and soften rough, cracked patches.” Tiffany adds: “Likewise, avoid harsh, cold weather where possible and don’t sit under air conditioners or heaters too long – these will literally zap the moisture from your skin.” 

Know The Difference Between Dry & Dehydrated 

“Often there can be confusion over whether skin is dry or simply dehydrated,” says Tiffany. “If you have dehydration, this means your skin lacks water and the most common causes are the weather, environment, diet and caffeine – all of which results in diminished water content within the skin. If your skin is dry, this is usually due to a lack of sebum (natural oil), meaning it’s without the essential lipids it needs to retain moisture and build strong barriers to protect against external aggressors – think dryness, itchiness, flakiness and redness. A good test is to gently pinch your cheek. If the skin wrinkles, instead of holding its shape, then you’re on the dehydrated side.” 

Adapt Your Skincare Seasonally

“As the seasons change, so should your skincare,” says Tiffany. “Think of it in the same way that you would your wardrobe: keep your favourite year-round items, but layer them with some additional key pieces to give you extra protection when it’s needed. To combat dryness, the advice is simple: give your moisture barrier as much love and attention as you possibly can. Focus on simple ingredients – as mentioned earlier – that work hard and keep skin healthy. Drenching skin in a cooling veil of hydration is paramount to keeping it soothed, soft and supple. Ceramides, hyaluronic acid and fatty acids are all key to help you mimic the skin’s natural building blocks, so focus on this and be strict with skincare maintenance. A few standout products include Scientica’s Ceramide Skin Rescue Balm, Aveeno’s Body Lotion and the Augustinus Bader Cream – the latter is expensive, but I don’t know anyone who hasn’t used it and benefited from its intense hydration.” 

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