Customers are always asking me, “Dahlia, why is my skin so dry? What can I do?”
Every single person deals with dry, itchy, tight or scaling skin at one time or another. Why does this happen? What are ways to reduce the effects of dry skin? Here are some answers. There are many reasons why you may be experiencing dry skin. Here are the more common reasons:
HOT SHOWERS: If you read the post READ THE LABEL [CHAPTER 1] The Purpose of Your Skin, then you’ll have an understanding of the sebum or natural oil our body produces that not only hydrates but protects the epidermis from environmental exposure. This sebum helps keep our skin stay hydrated and healthy. Hot baths and showers actually remove the sebum; stripping your skin of moisture, and thus, causes dryness, itchy and flaky skin.
SOAP & SHOWER GEL: This is mostly true for soaps and shower gels containing a synthetic lathering ingredient known as sodium laurel/ethyl/laureth sulfate (SLS) and ammonium laurel sulfate (ALS). These types of products encourage sebum removal and are one of the primary contributors to the dry skin, eczema, itchy skin epidemic. Antibacterial soaps and leave-on products can also cause the pH of the skin to become imbalanced, causing more dryness.
Try changing your store-bought products and transitioning to an oil-based bar soap that’s super hydrating. Stop using anti-bacterial products. There’s actually insufficient evidence that these products are useful anyway. (An article to come later.)
Something else to consider. If you’re experiencing weird breakouts or rashes, this is often attributed to synthetic soaps.
TOO MANY SHOWERS: You know, back in the day, taking a shower every day was unheard of, mostly for water conservation/availability/difficulty heating. But today, many of us are taking 1-2 showers a day! If you’re suffering from dry skin, consider limiting how many showers you take to every other day. If you are an athlete and get super stinky, consider using soap only after the workout, and room temp/warm water and no soap for your second shower. Further, consider only applying soap to the areas where body parts touch, under arms, etc. Give the skin a chance for sebum to build up again.
A SCRUB DOWN: Are you using a loofah or some other abrasive cloth during your shower? These can actually be very good to help exfoliate dead skin. But remember, we’re losing 30-40 thousand dead skin cells every minute by doing nothing at all. Excessive exfoliation can cause the skin to become sensitive and doesn’t allow the skin to cycle properly. Use a softer wash cloth, and save the more abrasive scrubbing accessories to use 2-3x a week.
WEATHER CONDITIONS: In winter, keep your skin covered, and ALWAYS hydrate every part of your body. The best way to hydrate for winter is applying a natural oil to your damp skin right after a shower. Good ones are coconut, grapeseed, almond, sesame or olive oil. Avoid using synthetic moisturizers as many contain ingredients that can actually contribute to dry skin. In summer, avoid sun exposure and take cool showers.
DIET: The way your skin looks and feels is often highly attributed to what you feed your body. If you’re suffering from dry skin, drink plenty of water or coconut water, and if you can stomach it, occasionally drink aloe vera juice which is also great for the stomach. (Avoid aloe vera juice if pregnant.) Don’t forget, your skin is the largest organ in your body, and your organs need water to function properly.
Also, mineral and fatty acid deficiencies contribute to skin problems including eczema, psoriasis, dry, itchy and flaking skin. For example, zinc deficiency is often linked to eczema. Consider taking omega 3-6-9 supplements which also encourage collagen and conditioning of the skin. Always check with your doctor before taking any supplements.
Please share some techniques you’ve used to combat dry skin.