What girls with dry skin need to know
As far as winter beauty struggles go, it doesn’t get much more dire than dry skin.
Thirsty, flaky, sometimes-itchy skin is a nightmare to behold – and don’t even get me started on the perils of make-up application (#thestruggleisreal).
Here’s everything you need to know about dry skin, including common causes and how to treat it properly.
1. You can inherit dry skin
According to Expert Skin Therapist Robyn McAlpine, your skin type is “genetically inherited from your parents and is something that you cannot change” – much like your hair colour! So, if your mum or dad struggles with dry skin, there’s a good chance you will too. At least we know who to blame.
2. It’s worse in winter
Winter spells a tough time for skin that’s prone to dryness. Australian Skin Clinics dermal technician, Darlene O’Gara, says common symptoms include “cracking and chronic chapped lips,” with Robyn blaming external and environmental factors such as “dry air, low humidity and heating.” Adding to this, “we’re also less likely to drink enough water to keep our skin hydrated.” It’s clear that winter has got it in for our skin!
RELATED: How to deal with very dry skin
3. Evaporation exacerbates the problem
So why do things like indoor heating and low humidity make dry skin even drier? It’s all to do with “the evaporation of moisture from the skin,” Robyn explains. Normal skin types are fortunate as they produce sufficient oil to lock in and protect the skin’s moisture content, “but when your skin is dry and lacking oil,” you lose this moisture through evaporation. *Sad face.*
4. Hot showers are also a killer
Think of your skin as a slightly greasy frying pan. When hot water hits the frying pan, the oil melts away, and it’s the same thing with your skin. We know from number three that less oil means more moisture evaporation, which is why Robyn says dry skin sufferers should “try to keep hot showers short.” Darlene also recommends applying a quality moisturiser “immediately after bathing to help lock in the moisture on your skin.” bh recommends NUXE Rêve de Miel Ultra Comfortable Day Cream, which contains sunflower oil derivative, safflower ceramides and precious plant oils to help replenish the skin’s lipids.
RELATED: 5 seriously awesome shower hacks
5. Oils are your friend
Dry skin is lacking in oil, so Robyn recommends keeping an eye out for products formulated with “skin-friendly oils such as jojoba, rosehip and apricot stone oil.” bh recommends Trilogy Rosehip Oil Antioxidant+ and Thursday Plantation Jojoba Oil. Darlene also recommends “moisturisers with shea butter, hyaluronic acid, and irwinol (a botanical butter) to help nourish and repair skin damage caused by dehydration.”
6. … but take care wth AHAs and salicylic acid
AHAs are a popular ingredient in anti-ageing skin care, but Robyn warns overdoing it “can be an issue for dry skin,” as some can "cause it to become irritated and uncomfortable.” Darlene recommends steering clear of salicylic acid for the same reason. If you can't resist the beauty benefits of AHAs, opt for glycolic and lactic acid, which can actually help hydrate the skin, and also make sure you are replenishing your skin’s oil levels with appropriate products (see number five).
7. Exfoliating is still key
You might think exfoliating is a no-no for dry skin, but Darlene stresses “it’s important to eliminate any dry or dead skin cells” so your moisturiser can penetrate your skin properly. Robyn recommends using a “physical exfoliant with a creamy base” because it will help to support your skin’s moisture levels. bh recommends Mirenésse Power Lift Massage Bead Cleanser, which contains smooth and gentle jojoba wax beads. If you’d rather go in-salon, Darlene says “microdermabrasion treatments are also a fantastic solution.”
8. A face mask can work wonders
But not just any old mask: Robyn recommends sticking to “rich, cream-based masks that give oil and hydration to the skin” (bh loves Shanga Hydrating Fruit Mask). Clay-based masks may be funner to use, but they’re formulated to draw out excess oil which, in the case of a dry skin type, is “rare and precious.” Noted.
9. Make-up can make it worse
Unfortunately, your beloved make-up base can make your dry skin worse. Liquid formulas are preferable, but Robyn warns dry skin sisters should “be wary of 'long-wear' products, which can be very drying when used long-term, even if they’re liquid-based.” Setting powders can also be drying, but Robyn has a quick fix: Use them in conjunction with a hydrating setting spray to refresh your skin. bh recommends Clarins Fix' Make-Up Mist or Australis Make-up Finishing Spritz.
10. Dry skin can lead to other skin problems
Don’t freak out, but it’s worth noting that if dry skin isn’t well cared for – it’s not just, as Robyn puts it, “uncomfortable to live in” – you’re also “at greater risk of developing dry, flaky, red, inflamed skin conditions.” Left unsupported, dry skin can also lead to capillary damage, early signs of rosacea and even, Darlene warns, “accelerated skin ageing, as the skin will lose elasticity and collagen.” Yikes.
11. Your dry skin essentials
Take note of Robyn and Darlene’s skin care recommendations:
- Robyn: A creamy/milk-based cleanser, “which will keep your skin’s vital oils intact and stop it from getting tight and itchy.” bh recommends Natural Instinct Replenishing Cream Cleanser, Uriage Crème Lavante and Sukin Cream Cleanser.
- Darlene: A microdermabrasion treatment “to help remove dry, dead skin cells from the skin’s surface.”
- Robyn: A moisturiser formulated to maximise skin hydration. bh recommends Jurlique Nutri-Define Multi-Correcting Day Cream, BABOR SKINOVAGE PX Vita Balance Daily Moisturizing Cream and Bio Pacific Skincare XCell-Hydra Boost Solution ($60, biopacific.com.au).
- Robyn: A face oil such as rosehip or similar, like jojoba “to use directly on dry skin during the winter months, or when visiting climates with low humidity.”
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