It looks like something out of a painting. Soft, smooth, with invisible pores, it seems to be every woman's dream – a kind of "luxury" skin. In this article, you will learn everything about dry skin. What are the mechanisms involved? And - what can irritate or soothe it? Let's dive in!
Dry skin can pay you back for proper care and protection. However, it can also suffer if you don’t provide it with everything it needs. That’s why it’s essential to after it.
Four pillars of dry skin protection
Dry skin is sometimes inherited, but more often, it results from a disruption of the skin's sensitive balancing mechanism. Its protective barrier seems to be very simple. Everything depends on the stratum corneum's excellent condition and its correct hydro-lipidic film on its surface, protecting the skin against external aggressors.
It is essential to have a well-functioning system of four mechanisms to maintain the balance of the skin. What does it mean?
It’s a perfect time to distinguish four pillars of dry skin protection:
1) The first one is a system responsible for maintaining a proper lipid mantle, and this depends on the appropriate functioning of the sebaceous glands.
2) The second protective pillar is a sufficiently acidic reaction of the skin.
3) The third element is proteins and lipids, which form the cell cement, or intercellular binder.
4) The fourth one, on the other hand, depends on the others - namely the protective mantle and intercellular cement (which prevent water evaporation from the skin) and the presence of natural moisturising factors (NMFs).
It’s also worth noting how crucial is the mechanism of water supply to the epidermis from the underlying dermis. Elastin and collagen fibres also play an essential role in maintaining adequate water levels in the skin - especially their good condition.
If anything wrong happens in just one of these four pillars, it quickly starts to disrupt the skin barrier. And this usually leads to water loss. When the amount of water is at the lower limit of the acceptable standard, the skin becomes dry, less elastic. The epidermis peels off excessively; it becomes ''hollow'' like cracked house walls or a roof hole.
In such a state, the skin opens its "gates" to attack by aggressive external factors. It also looks older, is less resilient, and wrinkles become very visible.
Why skin becomes dry?
Sometimes it’s the case of the season of the year, especially when it comes to Winter and Autumn.
It is because warm, dry air indoors (often stale) and cold, windy air outdoors are deadly to the skin.
The protective barrier is very quickly disrupted in such conditions, and even regular and healthy skin becomes dry and dehydrated.
Unfortunately, if you tend not to protect your skin from the sun in the summer, you will likely experience those effects intensely.
Free radicals, which form on the skin under the influence of UV radiation, become the aggressor and destroy elastin fibres and intercellular cement, without which the skin cannot defend itself against water evaporation. And it leads directly to skin dryness. The autumn and winter season exacerbates this problem.
It is also worth pointing out that you are doing yourself additional harm if you use a solarium.
Another factor hiding behind skin dryness comes down to ageing.
As the years go by, the skin becomes thinner, the natural moisturising factors and the fibroblasts that produce collagen and elastin decrease. The protective mantle no longer functions effectively and sebaceous glands, a natural lubricant, produce less sebum.
The effect of these changes in the skin can quickly be seen and felt in the form of a lack of elasticity, increasing dryness, and the appearance of more and more wrinkles.
Soap and water
Another reason for dry skin can be soap and water. Hot and chlorinated water very quickly destroys the protective mantle. If you additionally use alkaline soaps or detergents - you make the situation even worse. Aggressive washing impairs the skin's protective and repair functions. The skin is more susceptible to infections, irritation and is exceptionally fickle.
Another cause can be a disease, such as atopic dermatitis, which is extremely dry and prone to irritation and eczema. Thyroid problems also make the skin increasingly dry and thin, and it quickly becomes sensitive (this dryness can be really annoying).
How to look after your dry skin in a wise way
If you have dry skin, you need to be very conscious about looking after it. Why? Because improper care can do a lot of harm.
Luckily, because more and more people experience skin dryness, cosmetic companies are creating better and more modern cosmetics that are perfectly adapted to dry skin problems and respond quickly to them. My favorite company is Nanili Professional, which uses the latest knowledge and ingredients sensational for this skin problem.
The most crucial thing in dry skincare is to avoid intensive washing, which deprives the skin of lipids and natural moisturising factors. Long baths in hot water are also risky.
It would be best if you avoided alkaline, coloured, and scented soaps. Washing liquids, gels, which contain strong surfactants (not everything that foams a lot is good for the skin), have a considerable contribution in irritating and disrupting the skin's protective functions.
Use gels or other emulsions to wash the skin, which contains moisturising and lubricating substances. If you take a bath, only use an oil bath and not very hot water.
Be sure to use an alcohol-free toner to keep your skin's pH at the right level. Take care to choose creams and masks correctly for your skin's needs and condition. Don't be 100% swayed by the beautiful marketing language of products that cure every skin problem, products that work miracles.
Learn to listen to what your skin is telling you. Its needs can change several times in a month, so react appropriately and mindful of what is happening to it.
Don't change cosmetics now and then because another one ''helped your friend'' or ''the internet tells me I have to have it''. It doesn't work like that. Every skin is different and has different needs. You need to focus on your skin and look for positive solutions for it.
Look for ingredients in cosmetics that have a filmogenic effect. That is, they contain hydrophilic substances that bind water to the skin's surface. These include hyaluronic acid and chitin, and chitosan or protein hydrolysers (collagen, elastin, silk).
Or they have hydrophobic film-forming substances that create a layer that prevents excessive water escape. These include silicone oils, petroleum jelly, lecithin.
Other ingredients are hygroscopic substances that bind water in the deeper layers of the skin, e.g., glycerine and glycol (propylene glycol), urea, amino acids.
Another group of substances worth looking at when buying a cream is substances that penetrate deeper into the skin, contributing to reconstruction and strengthening of the lipid part of the epidermal (protective) barrier.
fatty acid esters
Thanks to these ingredients, the stratum corneum adheres closely to the epidermis and exfoliates appropriately.
So, thanks to them, you are fixing that ''leaky roof''.
To sum up, dry skin needs special attention every day. It requires a real treat, wise choices when buying cosmetics, and learning to 'listen' and read the signals it sends you, and it will return the favor with a beautiful and healthy appearance.