We’ve been discussing dry/dehydrated skin this month, and chances are you’ve been relying on trying all kinds things to fix it that rely solely on topical care. By now you understand how to look at this challenge in a more holistic way. This week, let’s talk about what to do and not to do externally when it comes to dry skin…
Over-wash: in most cases, cleansing twice daily is adequate to keep this skin clean. For certain patients, only once daily is required – especially at night. Too-frequent cleansing can strip the skin of valuable moisture and microflora, making dry skin worse.
Use harsh ingredients: While these corrective ingredients can be beneficial for some skin types, dry skin in general, does not tolerate high-dose glycolic or salicylic acids, benzoyl peroxide and retinoids. There are other ways to accomplish what these are intended to do in skin care products and treatments.
Bathe or wash in HOT water: Again, this strips the skin of essential moisture and can cause broken capillaries and inflammation.
Use very occlusive ingredients: I know, it feels good to slather on super-emollient creams – temporarily. But skin is not just a barrier, it’s a FILTER too. Sealing it in, over time, can cause an imbalance in TEWL and does not help this skin to be more naturally hydrated. Unless you’ve had a procedure that requires temporary use of an occlusive, avoid ingredients like petrolatum and mineral oil.
Over-exfoliate: One of the biggest problems with dry skin is the rough surface texture that comes with it. But exfoliating too often (at home or professionally), can make dry skin MUCH worse and can cause irritation, hyperpigmentation and hyper-sensitive skin. You can’t scrub, peel or microdermabrade your way out of this condition.
Incorporate beneficial ingredients into your skincare regimen: some of these are water-loving molecules like HA – Hyaluronic Acid which can bind up to 1000 times it’s weight in water to helps reduce TEWL. AHA’s like lactic and mandelic acid as well as low-dose glycolic, will exfoliate gently and help your skin produce more of its own HA. Vitamin B3 or Niacinamide increases ceramide and fatty acid levels in the skin, hydrates and reduces TEWL. Vitamin B5 or Panthenol, increases moisture retention capacity and reduces inflammation in the skin. Tocopherol or vitamin E protects the lipids in cells and membranes, the barrier function of skin and is an anti-oxidant. Look for EFA’s (Essential Fatty Acids) like flaxseed, borage, sea buckthorn and evening primrose, hemp oil. These EFA’s all have slightly different benefits and can be very helpful when included in the diet as well as in skincare products.
Exfoliate properly: Exfoliation at home with masks, “polishes” or micro-peels can be very helpful. A weekly retexturing step in your skin care routine is usually sufficient to get rid of that rough build-up of keratin on the surface. Remember, more is not necessarily better when it comes to exfoliation. Ask your skin care professional to suggest something appropriate for your skin type.
Get help from a licensed skin care professional: Sometimes trying to figure out on your own what’s going on in your skin and what products are best for YOU can be more frustrating, time-consuming and costly than having someone with knowledge and skill help you figure it out. Information (like this) is great, but will never replace the experience or intuition of a professional.