Are you concerned about your dry skin?
Do you suffer from dull, flaky patches?
Or maybe there is occasional inflammation?
Here at NC, we find that many skincare companies are quick to dismiss dry skin.
Their blanket marketing approach is always the same.
Just slap on an emollient-rich moisturiser with occlusive goodies, and you will eliminate your dry skin woes forever.
If only life were as simple as smearing on a moisturiser, and you’re good to go.
If you suffer from dry skin, you will appreciate it is so much more complex than that.
So keep on scrolling for the truth and nothing but the truth.
As we discuss what causes dry skin.
How to Recognise Dry Skin
If you have dry skin, we don’t need to tell you that it hardly produces any sebum (Oil).
It is characteristic of tiny pores because there is no oil to enlarge them or breed bacteria, and the good news is that you won’t be breaking out any time soon.
Phew, so blemish-free skin and tiny pores are not so bad after all? Well, keep scrolling.
Your skin relies on oil to lock moisture in; without this, your complexion can appear rough, patchy, and flaky, and fine lines can also appear more pronounced.
A dry skin type lacks water which damages your moisture barrier; tiny, invisible cracks can appear and inflame your skin, sensitising it and making it appear even drier.
One of the significant causes of dry skin is impaired barrier function, and essential ingredients like ceramides, lipids and cholesterol have become depleted.
This causes your skin’s nerve endings to become exposed and surface cells to dry out; insufficient lipids between the skin cells allow ingredients to penetrate through, which can cause inflammation.
This is why the ingredients you use for dry skin are essential to keep it supple, smooth, moisturised and healthy.
If you don’t repair this damage, it can lead to a breakdown in collagen and elastin, which keeps your skin plump, taut, and youthful.
Common Causes of Dry Skin
- poor lifestyle choices
- overexposure to UV
- drugs, both medicinal and recreational
- lack of essential fatty acids
- overuse of astringent products
- an imbalance in the skin’s sebum
- exposure to chemicals and pollutants
- poor health, thyroid disease, and diabetes
- overzealous exfoliation, which can cause tiny micro-tears
- metabolic changes in the skin and hormonal imbalances such as pregnancy
- low or high humidity levels and temperature can dry skin out, leading to dehydration
- the hormone estrogen is another cause of dry skin; after menopause, the hormone decreases drying out skin
Reasons Why Your Skin is Dry
As we can see, dry skin is much more complicated than first expected because of several underlying conditions.
So let’s take a deeper dive into what causes dry skin:
1. A Lack of Aquaporins
These proteins are found in your cell membranes; they transport water and glycerine to your skin, enhancing trans-epidermal water permeability whilst preventing water loss.
So essentially locking moisture into the tissues of your skin.
Research (1) has found that a lack of aquaporins in the stratum corneum (your outer layer of skin) can cause several problems,
- delayed wound healing
- a reduction in skin elasticity,
- a reduction of glycerol in your skin’s outer layers,
All of which will cause your skin to become dry and flaky.
2. A Lack of Filaggrin
interestingly, scientific research (2) has found that a lack of protein filaggrin is one of the leading causes of dry skin.
We discuss this condition in detail in the article Ichthyosis Vulgaris; it’s a recommended read if you are a dry skin sufferer.
It brings us closer to understanding how to treat a dry skin type.
3. Your Natural Moisturising Factor (NMF)
Your NMF is also derived from filaggrin; its role is to help your stratum corneum maintain its moisture levels, keeping your skin supple.
If your skin lacks filaggrin, the NMF fails to do its job correctly, especially in arid environments, which has a knock-on effect, increasing dryness and dehydration in your skin.
4. A lack of hydrating Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic is an essential component of your skin that depletes with age, which can also reduce your skin’s water-holding capacities.
This is why it is essential to look for formulas that contain high molecular weight hyaluronic acid, such as our H20 Skinshot.
Topical application will help keep the outer layers of our skin nicely hydrated, binding that all-important moisture to your skin tissues.
5. Impaired Cellular Turnover
When looking at what causes dry skin, impaired cellular turnover should not be overlooked as this can interfere with desquamation, the way your skin naturally exfoliates.
As we age, our skin’s regular enzymatic activity begins to slow down; this prevents the corneocyte cells from separating during this natural desquamation process, causing the skin cells to bind together, producing that classic scaly skin.
This is an article on xerosis cutis, an abnormally dry skin condition.
So How Can You Fix Your Dry Skin?
- avoid foaming cleansers. They are too harsh and will strip the water out of your skin after washing
- perform your skincare routine quickly, as soon as you have cleansed and then apply the toner damp on the skin. Then layer with your moisturiser – this guarantees that your skin feels soft and stays protected
- never skip your nightly routine: At night, your skin is at rest; this is when the skin’s permeability is at its highest, thus allowing the active ingredients to absorb deeply
- for extra hydration, apply a few drops of a humectant based serum, let it sinks in then apply your moisturiser, to lock them against your skin
- never over-exfoliate, if you have dry, flaky skin it is an important step not to miss, but keep it gentle – otherwise you will cause tiny micro-tears in the skin which can damage the barrier
To Conclude. The naked truth
As a skincare specialist, it is always interesting to me how much dry skin is misunderstood within the industry.
I find it often takes backstage compared to other skin types.
Yet you can’t have a blanket approach to treating dry skin conditions; a single moisturiser will not give your skin enough to bring it back into balance.
You need to layer your skin with well-thought-out products that use barrier-repairing oils, moisturisers and balms rich in skin-identical ingredients like ceramides and lipids to truly being to repair your skin,
This research (3) examines how these ingredients affect skin health and repair the protective barrier function.
These different treatments, layered at different times, target the many underlying conditions that cause your skin to become dry.
Here at the Naked Chemist, we really talk to your skin, and our dry skin kit has been specifically formulated with this complex skin type in mind that will bring you instant relief. Check out the kit here.
So if you are a dry skin sufferer, it is essential to know there is light at the end of the tunnel and that you can reverse many of the underlying conditions that may be causing your skin to dry out.
Become your label detective and understand what causes dry skin and the many ingredients you can use to repair and rebuild your barrier function.
Ensure you are using a well-formulated product containing essential skin-identical ingredients; before long, your skin will have that moisturised, dewy glow.
- In vivo studies of aquaporins 3 and 10 in human stratum corneum
Filaggrin in the frontline: role in skin barrier function and disease
The skin barrier in a healthy and diseased state