Whatever your skin type, specific factors might trigger or lead to oversensitivity: Your skin reacts strongly when you’d rather it didn’t…
What is dry skin?
It is possible to have normal skin that is in good health, but which is “naturally dry”.
A case of “simple” dry skin is called xerosis.
Some of us have skin that is naturally drier than others, and this worsens with age. Dry, cold winter weather, and also wind and sun are skin-drying factors. Certain cleansing and skin care products are also harmful to the epidermis since they contain surfactants with detergent, irritant effects.
Abnormal skin with a thickened epidermis, continuous desquamation and the formation of large flakes indicates a case of ichthyosis.
With eczema, and particularly with atopic dermatitis, the skin becomes pale and dry.
In rare cases, nutritional deficiencies (vitamins, magnesium or fatty acids) can aggravate dryness.Several skin diseases require treatments with a drying effect (e.g. acne).
Advice from your doctor
Dry skin needs attentive analysis. Rare ichthyoses should be instantly eliminated, and atopic dermatitis should be treated early.
In the case of an isolated skin problem, this can be corrected by eliminating harsh skin care products and by using a moisturizing cream.
If this does not apply to you, your dermatologist will recommend a specific treatment along with specific hydration methods.
Not all moisturizing creams have the same mechanism of action. In terms of active principles, there are three main methods of skin hydration:
- The occlusive method using products that are usually very oily, for example with a Vaseline base, which form an occlusive film on the surface of the epidermis and allows water to be retained within the horny layer.
- The emollient method using formulas with a glycerin, urea or lactic acid base, which give the skin natural moisture components.
- The physiological method using formulas containing fatty acids, sterols and ceramides, which provide lipids similar to those contained in the uppermost layer of the epidermis, compensating for the deficiency.
- The researchers that develop these products usually combine several active principles in order to optimize the mechanisms of action.
Your dermatologist will help you choose the best product, or line of products for your problem.
Always remember that regular use is necessary: moisturizing products must be applied daily to maintain efficacy.
Are there different types of dry skin?
• “Common” dry skin
The most frequent. Several causes: Aging (especially on the arms and legs), climatic conditions (dry cold in winter, wind and sun), cleansers containing harsh emulsifiers…
• Pathological dry skin
It is important to first do a diagnostic in order to eliminate possible isolated causes that could be eliminated quickly (by switching cleansers or using a moisturizer). Your dermatologist can then recommend the best treatment for your dry skin.
Does dry skin lack water?
Yes, although it is not the only issue: You cannot rehydrate the skin’s superficial layer by just drinking water or wetting the skin. Lipids (fats) are also necessary for the moisture to stick.
Does the sun dry the skin?
Yes. Sun exposure is an aggression (burn). The skin reacts by making pigments (the tan) and getting thicker. The dryness is transitory, caused by an increase in water loss and thickening.
Is the quality of the water important for dry skin?
Yes. Certain waters have a high level of limestone: They are called “hard” waters. They can worsen the drying effect of cleansers. One can either soften the water by using specific devices or use ultra-rich products.
How to select cleansers and moisturizers for dry skin?
The goal is to nourish and moisturize the skin while reducing aggressions and irritations. For cleansing, avoid soaps, use bars or ultra-rich gels instead, enriched in protecting and moisturizing ingredients. For moisturizing, emollients moisturize and nourish the skin while ensuring a good cohesion of the epidermis, necessary for the proper functioning of the protective skin barrier. It is important to use emollients often, ideally on a daily basis.