Keeping the skin properly hydrated is more challenging than you might think. After all, if you simply drink enough water and eat the right foods, the skin’s own barrier should maintain healthy moisture levels – right? Not so fast. Today there is a myriad of things that rob our skin of moisture, leaving it dry and stressed which can lead to a host of other skin conditions. Being aware of the things that both rob your skin of moisture, and hydrate it, can help prevent chronic dry skin.
Things that Rob your Skin of Moisture
Dry Indoor Air: Both air conditioning and dry heat, rob the skin of surface moisture. If heating or cooling the indoor air is unavoidable, add some humidity to the air to counteract the drying effects of the artificial air. You can also spritz your face a couple of times a day with a hydrating skin spritzer to refresh and replenish surface moisture levels.
Dry Climates: Dry climates lack natural humidity. The absence of these water particles in the air makes it difficult the for skin to maintain healthy moisture levels. If you live in a dry climate, daily moisturizing is critical. One of the most effective ways to keep natural moisture in the skin and protect the skin’s barrier, is to apply a thin coat of natural oil like jojoba, olive or coconut oil to the skin after showering or bathing.
Caffeine and Alcohol: Both of these are dehydrating and rob the skin of moisture. They are both also diuretics and cause the body to lose water from increased urination which leads to dry and even dehydrated skin.
Hot Water and Long Showers: Showering or bathing in hot water, even for a short while, robs the skin of moisture as it strips away the skin’s natural oils. Lukewarm water may not sound enticing, but it is healthier for the skin. Long showers or baths are just as harmful as moisture levels are stripped away during a long shower or bath. Limit showers and baths to 10 or 15 minutes.
Harsh Soaps and Cleansers: Many soaps and skin cleansers contain harsh ingredients that dry the skin, leaving it feeling tight and itchy as they strip the skin of natural oils. Using mild cleansers formulated from natural, moisturizing ingredients like glycerin, shea butter, coconut, sweet almond oil, goat’s milk and vitamin E are preferred. For those with extremely dry, sensitive skin, non-soap options like Cetaphil are better options.
Toners: Toners are an important part of the cleansing process – they remove final traces of residue from the skin and prepare it for beneficial creams and serums. However, many toners contain alcohol which is drying to the skin. Look for toners that are alcohol-free and have water-based ingredients such as rosewater or chamomile, and vitamin B derivatives (panthenol), which help lock in moisture.
Sunshine: Exposing the skin to ultra violet rays is not only damaging on so many levels, it also depletes the skin of natural oils. Use a broad spectrum sunscreen every day to protect the skin, and moisturize every night after sun exposure.
Things the Hydrate your Skin
H₂O: Our bodies are not designed to retain and store water. Rather, it consumes the water we provide it and becomes stressed when there is not enough. Drinking enough water (about 9 cups of fluid a day), especially before and after exercise, in warm weather and in dry climates, is critical for the maintenance of healthy skin.
Moisturizers: Applying moisturizer to the face and body every day seems obvious, however, many people skip this important step until the skin begins to feel dry. The ideal time to moisturize is after cleansing, or showering, while the skin is damp – this seals in added moisture to the skin. If your skin is chronically dry, moisturize throughout the day. Butters like shea and avocado butters are natural and gentle ways to nourish dry skin, while natural oils like jojoba, olive, and grapeseed oil provide rich emoillent qualities without clogging the pores.
Humectants and Occlusives: Humectants are ingredients that attract water from the atmosphere and the deeper layers of the skin to help make the surface of the skin soft and moisturized and appear plump and smooth. Common humectants are glycerin, sorbitol, lactic acid, seaweed and glycerol. Occlusives are ingredients that create a seal on the skin to lock moisture in. Natural occlusives include beeswax, nut and seed oils, and shea butter. The best use of these two ingredients is when they are combined to both draw water to the skin and then lock it in.
Hydrating Foods: Eating the right foods, especially hydrating foods can help boost moisture levels in the skin. Some top hydrating foods are cucumbers (96.7% water); tomatoes (94.5% water); watermelon (91.5% water); strawberries (91% water). Other superfoods that are not only hydrating but deliver other nourishing qualities to the skin in just a few days. These include omega fatty acid rich foods like wild salmon, and vitamin and fiber rich foods like kale.
Humidifiers: Adding humidity to artificially cooled or heated air will help counteract the drying effects of the environment and keep the skin moist. The best time to run the humidifier is at night while you sleep. That way you can concentrate the humidity to a single room and condition dry, stressed, skin while you sleep.
For more information on treating, healing and maintaining dry skin, please click on the links below:
- Home Remedies for Dry Skin
- Keeping Dry Skin Hydrated
- Soothe and Hydrate Dry Skin
- Chronic Dry Skin
- Dry Skin