Have you ever felt your skin looks chalky, flaky or extra dull? If so, those are signs your skin is dry. For many people, dry skin isn’t something that only happens when they travel to a dry climate or during the colder winter months. When your skin doesn’t retain sufficient moisture, it becomes dry and uncomfortable. In some cases, dry skin is so severe that you might feel embarrassed to be seen or feel uncomfortable in clothing.
There are many factors that lead to dry skin, and the changing seasons is only one of them. Indoor and outdoor environments can contribute to dryness, but sometimes the cause is deeper. Chronic dry skin is often the result of vitamin and nutrient deficiencies, including essential fatty acids that are critical for keeping your skin plump and hydrated.
Dry skin is characterized by skin that is scaly, itchy, and cracking. It may also be very red and irritated from scratching. In severe cases, fissures may develop. Dry skin can affect any part of your body. And even if you have oily skin, dry skin may develop from time to time, especially as the seasons change.
It is common for Emmett skin types to experience dry skin, including atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. Sage skin types are also prone to dry skin, especially since they are more susceptible to changing hormones.
Let’s explore common dry skin myths, so you can remedy discomfort and learn how to manage and prevent dry skin.
Myth #1: Skipping cleansing will keep your skin hydrated.
Skipping a twice-daily cleansing does not help skin retain moisture. Avoiding cleansing actually causes damage to your skin. By not cleansing, your skin misses an opportunity to be properly cleansed and you may have trouble absorbing the skin care products that you apply. Missing cleansing leaves your skin covered in dirt, debris, and dead skin cells that contribute to clogged pores.
When you use the right cleanser, cleansing helps keep pH levels balanced, support the natural acid mantle of the skin, and retain healthy moisture levels. Even if your skin is dry, cleansing twice daily is ideal for dry skin. Use a cleanser like our Step 1, without harmful synthetic ingredients like parabens and fragrances and that helps balance skin instead of stripping it and causing more dryness.
Myth #2: Thick moisturizers are ideal for dry skin.
If you have been suffering from dry skin for a long time, it may be tempting to slather on the thickest moisturizer you can find. Heavy creams take longer to absorb and may also block pores, leading to clogged pores and breakouts. In addition, heavy moisturizer may leave your skin feeling and looking greasy. Lighter formulas with a thinner consistency can actually be better for dry skin. They absorb faster so beneficial nutrients can work quickly on your skin.
Ideally, you want to use a moisturizer like our Step 3 that is free of toxic ingredients and contains skin-healthy nutrients, such as cold-pressed oils. If your skin is dry and cracked, your skin is more vulnerable to infection, so it’s good to look for ingredients that are soothing and anti-microbial.
Essential oils are a healthier alternative to synthetic fragrance and they can have therapeutic benefits. Ylang-ylang flower oil, for example, helps balance sebum levels, and it helps maintain proper moisture levels by preventing water loss from your skin. Its soothing and peaceful scent is an added bonus that contributes to feelings of relaxation and tranquility!
Myth #3: You can’t exfoliate dry skin.
Exfoliating dry skin helps remove excess dead skin cells that lead to the appearance of dull and dry skin. Gentle exfoliating can be done to protect dry skin. To slough off dead skin cells on the face, look for natural exfoliants created with pure oils. Avoid scrubs with harsh, abrasive exfoliants like apricot kernels or walnut shells. These can actually create micro-tears in your skin and make it even more prone to infection.
For the body, you can make your own sugar scrub at home. Simply use one part sugar to one part of your favorite oil (jojoba oil and avocado oil both have a higher water content that hydrates skin for a longer period of time). Add a few drops of essential oils for scent (lavender and lemon is a divine combination!), and mix. This easy solution gently exfoliates the skin on your arms and legs with ingredients in your kitchen cupboard. Remember to massage the scrub onto your skin in circles gently, rinse with warm water, and pat dry.
Another option for body exfoliation is dry brushing, which has many health benefits, such as enhanced circulation, improved detoxification, and the removal of dead skin. Use a long-handled brush and gently brush in light strokes toward your heart with light to medium pressure. If your skin is excessively dry, irritated, and you have open wounds, do not use this technique.
Myth #4: Hot showers and baths keep skin hydrated.
There’s no doubt that a hot shower or a hot bath sounds very soothing and relaxing. Unfortunately, frequent baths and showers, especially when they’re hot, actually make skin drier. Hot water strips skin of essential hydrating oils and damages the acid mantle, contributing to more dryness.
Inhibit dry skin by limiting showers and baths to 5 or 10 minutes a day (or every other day), and if you enjoy longer sessions, make sure that the water is not too hot. After bathing, always dry off your body immediately with a towel, and apply a natural oil, such as coconut oil or almond oil, to lock in hydration. You can give these oils an extra boost by adding plant-based nutrient-rich oils as you’ll find in our Step 4 Glow Boost.
Addressing chronically dry skin will help your skin heal, prevent infections, and minimize or eliminate discomfort. It will also help you look and feel radiant and glowing – you will no longer feel ashamed about the appearance of dull and dry skin! But most important, by addressing the causes of your dry skin and taking steps to remedy it, you will better take care of your health and feel confident again. If you want to find out more about the underlying causes of your dry skin, take my skin quiz.
For optimally radiant and hydrated skin, try a sample kit ($9.99 plus S&H) of our 4 step skin care system.