When your skin is feeling dry and flaky, you tend to slather on some moisturiser. An easy fix, right?
Well, not necessarily. While moisturisers do help heal dry skin, they’re not always effective. More often than not, the reason your skin still feels dry after applying moisturiser could be a sign of a compromised skin barrier.
“An impaired skin barrier function makes it hard for the skin to protect itself from dehydration,” explains Skin Virtue founder and skin expert Nina Gajic.
So, if you’ve ever wondered why your skin still feels dry even though you’re always applying moisturiser, read on.
According to Gajic, if you’re noticing your skin is still dry after moisturising it may be because there’s “not enough sebum/oil on the surface of the skin to lock in moisture”.
ICYMI, sebum is an oily substance that helps hydrate and protect the skin – while having too much can cause skin issues (hey, acne), having too little can make it hard for your skin to stay moist.
“Under-active sebaceous glands produce less sebum, therefore have less protective lubrication (sebum/oil) that sits on the surface of the skin which leads to a higher rate of transepidermal water-loss (TEWL) and dry skin,” said Gajic.
As we mentioned, your skin’s oils are precious when it comes to hydrating the skin, keeping it moist and protecting the skin’s barrier.
Over-washing the skin can therefore cause havoc to your skin’s natural moisture protection, throwing off the natural moisturising factors and making it feel dry and irritated.
Over-washing the skin can also lead to TEWL, making it hard for your skin to hold onto any moisture because you’ve stripped it of its oils.
Most skin experts will agree that cleansing your face once or twice a day is enough to clean, but not dry out the skin. So, pull it back if you’re washing it too much.
Woah! Slow down on the active treatments, friend!
Harsh skin peels, products or treatments can irritate and dry out the skin, so be mindful what type of ingredients you’re using on your skin.
“This applies to all skin types, oilier skin types need barrier restoring after chemical peels,” said Gajic.
She also advises to steer clear of “harsh keratinocyte disrupting soaps, detergents and solvents” - as these will only mess with your skin further.
How much sleep are you getting? It might not be enough.
“Sleep deprivation increases the signs of intrinsic ageing and reduces the skin barrier function and recovery rate,” said Gajic.
Meaning? There’s more water loss when you don’t sleep, leading to increased dryness.
So, ensure you clock in those eight hours of sleep per night. It’ll do your skin wonders.
The pH level of your skin-care products can have a massive impact on your skin. If you disturb your acid mantle by using products that are too acidic, this may end up negatively affecting your skin.
“Using products that are too alkaline make your skin feel tight and dry which compromise your skin barrier function,” said Gajic.
To avoid stripping your skin, we’d recommend trying to stick to products with a pH of between 4.6 to 5.5.
As you can probably guess, the climate also has a massive impact on the condition of your skin.
Things like “exposure to dry and windy environments, excessive air-conditioning, direct heat from open fires or fan heater” can all cause dry skin – and the severity of these symptoms can differ dramatically.
Winter-proof your skin by focusing on helping maintain the health of your skin barrier. To find out how to keep your skin barrier healthy, read here.
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of a steaming hot shower when things are getting chilly, but it turns out hot water can do some serious damage to your skin. Especially if you’re already someone who has dry skin.
Seems confusing, but the longer you expose your skin to a hot temperature, the more moisture it loses – it can end up damaging the outer layer of your skin and stripping it of its oils.
Instead, opt for short, tepid showers.
Thanks to fewer natural oils, sun damage and decreased cell renewal, our skin will naturally get drier and rougher as we age. Sorry, but it’s true!
“Our natural moisturising factor declines with age due to a decline in protein synthesis and decreased barrier function,” explains Gajic.
Meaning? It’s never too soon to start taking better care of your skin!
Want to find out the best way to treat an impaired skin barrier? Head to this article.
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By Gary Williams, Bio