The structure of the stratum corneum of the skin plays a vital role in its function as a barrier to water loss and the external harsh environment. Injury to this barrier by the environment and common irritants, with the resulting loss of water from the skin is the main reason for the development of dry skin. Once this lipid barrier is broken, moisture can evaporate. As these natural moisturising factors are missing, the skin cannot hold as much water and becomes dry until it is replenished and the lipid barrier on the surface is repaired.

 

Causes:

Environmental factors :

  • Harsh weather conditions - Hot, cold and dry air.
  • Seasonal changes - Dry skin symptoms are more common in the winter and summer months.
  • Ultraviolet (UV) sunlight can increase the rate of skin-ageing, thus leading to premature fine lines and wrinkles.
Skincare:
 
Inappropriate daily skincare regime - It is important to follow a routine and use products that are suitable for your skin type. Avoid soaps that strip away natural skin lipids.

Some medications have the side effects of changing the water balance within the skin e.g medications that control blood pressure, known as diuretics.


Ageing:

As we age, our skin becomes thinner and drier. Also during menopaus, oestrogen levels are decreased and this slows down sebum production, protecting your skin less and making it drier.

 

Diet:

The skin requires a range of nutrients, unsaturated fatty acids and vitamins in order to function correctly. A lack of any of these can contribute to dry skin.



With a weakened barrier, dry skin becomes increasingly susceptible to environmental damge, free radicals, bacterial infection and other problems.

 

Picking the right moisturiser doesn’t have to be confusing. Just knowing the important ingredients that promote hydration can help.

The  ingredients listed below can tackle common dry skin issues by helping skin maintain its moisture levels, strengthening skin’s protective barrier and helping to prevent water loss.

 

- Humectants - Urea, glycerol, hyaluronic acid

- Alpha Hydroxy Acids  (AHA's) - glycolic acid, lactic acid

- Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA's) - salicylic acid

- Enzymes - Papain digests keratin protein

- Lipid enriched - ceramides - to help maintain the skin’s natural protective layer

- Niacinimide - It has anti-inflammatory properties

- Fatty Acids - linoleic acid - They act as a barrier and aid permeability of the skin. 

- Vitamin C - relieves inflammation and dryness

- Botanical extracts - many are helpful.