Skin dryness is one of the top complaints I receive and at the same time the most common skin care products in the world are for remedying dry skin. Although certain genetic factors contribute to dry skin, there is a substantial environmental impact on skin hydration. Meaning, although some of us will naturally have dryer skin than others, the vast majority of dry skin is caused by our lifestyle choices.
A common misconception is that dry skin is caused by not drinking enough water. While it is true that if you are dehydrated, you will lose some water content from your skin, it is false that drinking a lot of water will make skin dryness go away.
We do things every day that strip the water from our skin, and this is a problem because replenishing skin water content is a greater challenge than maintaining natural skin hydration. It is therefore necessary on our journey of healthy skin to know what dehydrates our skin so that we know what to avoid, and we can then use proper skin care to maintain and build up skin hydration.
Skin hydration is key for maintaining youthful skin because hydrated skin does not wrinkle as easily. If you have a t-shirt in a pool, and scrunch it up, the shirt goes back to its normal, smooth state with ease and no wrinkling. However, when you take the shirt out of the water and wring it out, you get wrinkles. The same is true for your skin.
So lets discuss what creates skin dryness:
1. Hot water.
Hot water (and even warm water) is not just bad for skin because it causes inflammation and can break blood vessels and capillaries in sensitive skin and skin with rosacea, its bad because it pulls water from the skin. When water is pulled from the skin, the resulting moisture loss will make skin dry and tight. Tightening the skin will lead to premature sagging just like how stretching out clothing results in sagging fabric and the permanent loss of its shape. Hot water should be avoided at all costs, regardless of skin type, and this includes both the liquid and vapor phase (so no steaming either).
2. Not properly drying your skin
After washing your face, it is necessary to properly dry your skin. Leaving water on the surface of your face means that the water will dissipate via evaporation. When water evaporates from your skin, it will take more water with it, and the water is coming from your skin. So make sure to pat dry with a clean towel, cloth, or use the towel-free drying method .
3. Using skin mists
This is another dryness by evaporation example. Skin mists are popular and promise to provide the skin with instant hydration. However, skin hydration doesn’t occur by putting water on the skin. If this were true, anyone who bathes regularly would never experience dry skin. Skin hydration requires providing skin with the ability to retain moisture, and then applying a serum that delivers water into the skin. Mists do not deliver water into the skin, mists have water sit on top which creates the illusion of hydration, while drying the skin out more from evaporation.
4. Over-washing your face
I only recommend washing at night; there is no need to wash your face in the morning because sleeping does not make skin dirty. All you need to do is sleep on a clean pillowcase.
Over-cleansing seems to take root in the misconception that cleaning the skin will cure (or prevent) skin disease. I always say, cleansing will not get rid of acne, oiliness or other skin issues, but it sure will create them (or exacerbate them) if not done properly.
Cleansing will also create skin dryness if done too often because every time you cleanse you are removing some beneficial oils from your skin that are necessary for locking in moisture. And if you use an alkaline, foaming cleanser or cleanser with irritants such as essential oils, alcohol, or fragrance, then you are further stripping the oil from your skin causing even more dryness.
Cleansing once per day is more than enough. Your skin may feel oily at first if you are reducing your cleansing, but your skin will adjust within a month.
5. Washing with foaming /alkaline / irritating cleansers
Foaming and alkaline (high pH) cleansers strip oil and water from the skin and create skin dryness. Cleansers with irritants such as flower extracts, rosewater, essential oils, alcohol, or fragrance will also strip moisture from the skin.
Moisturizers do not hydrate the skin because the formula does not permit it to do so. It is also a simple fact of biology that putting water on the skin does not put water into the skin. So again, you have the issue with evaporation, and it is the reason why you have been using moisturizers for years and your skin is still dry. I prefer thick creams because they prevent water loss, and evaporation does not occur because of the thick consistency of the cream. I use creams (or Vaseline) at night over my serums to lock in moisture.
7. Using physical scrubs
Physical exfoliation is bad for a lot of reasons: they kill live skin, they create microlacerations that become a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus (causing acne and dermatitis), and they accelerate the aging process. The skin breakdown caused by scrubbing your skin with salt, sugar, diamond or anything else leads to water loss and because the skin has been damaged, it will require a lot of time and skin care effort to build the skin back up so that it can retain hydration.
8. Hyaluronic acid
I originally thought that putting hyaluronic acid in skin care was a great way to achieve skin plumpness and hydration. Hyaluronic acid is a molecule naturally found outside the cell in the extracellular matrix and holds 10,000 times its weight in water. Hyaluronic acid pulls water from its environment, and when in its natural environment (in the extracellular matrix) it pulls water in a controlled and regulated way. When it is used in skin care, it sits on top of the skin, and pulls water from every which direction haphazardly. When I saw this result in my own lab I decided to pull all HA from OUMERE products.
The result of HA in your skin care is skin dryness.
Alcohols such as ethyl alochol, and SD / denatured alcohol are common skin care ingredients and exist to give the skin a matte finish after application. A matte look comes at a price, and it is your skin’s hydration.
Makeup such as powders and foundations soak up skin’s natural oils, leading to water loss.
To create true hydration in the skin, I recommend exfoliating daily with a AHA/BHA/PHA exfoliant to slough off dead skin and to stimulate turnover of new skin cells, use serums that deliver water into the skin and have oil to lock in the moisture, and to cleanse with an oil-based pH-balanced cleanser to prevent the stripping of skin’s natural oils.