The scientific explanation for dry skin


There’s nothing great about itchy, tight, dry skin. Not only does it feel uncomfortable but it’s hard to effectively apply makeup over the top of it. But what exactly is dry skin and why does it occur? Hopefully by answering these questions and more, we can help you quash this skin condition for good.  

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We turned to Dr Fabrizio Spada, Ph.D., from Ego Pharmaceuticals, who spends his days creating skin care ranges for the masses, to reveal the scientific for dry skin and everything there is know about dealing with dry skin.

What is dry skin?

“Dry skin is skin that has lost its ability to retain moisture due to a series of changes in its structure and integrity,” explains Dr Spada. “This can be due to physiological changes, diet, weather, genetics, and many other factors.” The problem is, says Dr Spada, once dry, there is a self-perpetuating cycle that makes dry skin itchy, and the consequent scratching further deteriorates the the barrier of the skin, that exacerbates this condition and discomfort associated with it.

What is the cause of dry skin on your face?

“A big contributing factor in the appearance of dry skin on the face (and hands) is the exposure to the environment and the depletion of important superficial components that are supposed to protect the skin from external aggressions,” explains Dr Spada. “Such as sebum and the Natural Moisturizing Factor, a mixture of humectants and emollients naturally present in healthy skin.”

Why do you get dry skin on your nose?

“Exposure to the environment plays a big role in the appearance of dry skin anywhere on the face,” he says. “Aggression from UV and visible light along with wind and poor choice of cleansing products will promote the formation of dry skin, which is an indication of loss of integrity and hydration within the skin.”

Dr Spada’s skin care tip: Start by cleansing with a gentle exfoliating product to remove dead skin and to refresh the skin without causing dryness. Then protect your skin during the day with a moisturiser that contains a SPF 30.

beautyheaven loves: Elucent Anti-Ageing Gentle Cleanser, QV Face Moisturising Day Cream with SPF 30, Elucent Anti Ageing Day Moisturiser with SPF 50+

Why do you get dry skin on your mouth?

“Lips have different tissue morphology due to their hairless nature,” says Dr Spada. “While sebaceous glands are still present to provide a protective layer of emollients on the surface of the lips, if the skin loses that protective layer due to poor choice of products being applied (color cosmetics, lipsticks, lip balms, etc…) the skin will start appearing dry and rough, indicating that the upper layers of the skin are losing their integrity and essential components.”

beautyheaven loves: SunSense Lip Balm with SPF 50+, Viraprox Lip Balm, Dermal Therapy™ Lip Balm

Why do you get dry skin around your eyes?

“The skin around the eyes is particularly thin and elastic because it is exposed to great mechanical simulation throughout the day,” says Dr Spada. “There is also a great network of blood vessels, capillaries in particular. Exposure to environmental factors combined with poor cleansing routine and poor choice of cosmetic products can certainly have a strong impact on delicate skin such as the thin one around our eyes.”

beautyheaven loves: QV Revitalising Eye Cream, philosophy renewed hope in a jar eye, Lancôme Advanced Génifique Yeux Light-Pearl Eye Illuminator Youth Activating Concentrate

Are there certain areas of your face that aren’t susceptible to dry skin?

“Dry skin can occur everywhere on our body, even if a person has oily skin, because it is an indication that the skin has partially lost its ability to maintain integrity and retain moisture within the epidermis,” he explains. “Protecting the skin with the suitable combination of emollients, humectants and occludent is the best strategy to avoid addressing skin irritation, which is often due to dry skin that has not been adequately taken care of.”

beautyheaven loves: QV Face Oil Free Moisturiser, Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturiser SPF15, Neutrogen’s Oil Free Moisture Sensitive Skin

What is the best way to treat dry skin?

“A regular skin care routine is essential to make sure dry skin can be as healthy as possible,” says Dr Spada. “Use a soap free gentle cleanser followed by the application of a moisturizer that contains the right balance of high quality ingredients that reconstitute the integrity of the epidermal layer.”

beautyheaven loves: QV Face Gentle Cleanser, QV Face Ultra Calming Moisturiser, Avemide 15™

Which ingredients are best for treating dry skin?

“The combination of the right ingredients is just as important as the ingredients themselves, because there is synergy between humectants such as glycerine, emollients such as paraffin oil, and occludents such as petroleum jelly,” explains Dr Spada. “Having the correct ratio of such ingredients is fundamental to restore and possibly improve skin barrier functions.”

beautyheaven loves: QV Face Night Cream, Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Night Cream, Palmer’s Moisture Rich Night Cream

What should you avoid when you have dry skin?

“Any soap-based cleanser that will increase the skin pH, because we have a protective layer called “acid mantle” on our skin, which helps maintain integrity and cohesiveness of our epidermis,” says Dr Spada. “Any significant alteration of skin pH will inactivate such protection and allow foreign elements to find their way into the lower levels of the skin, causing irritation.”

Do you have dry skin? How do you treat it?

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