Wanna know why you've got dry skin?
there're so many possible reasons why our skin may be dry. the climate, weather, environment, even our internal environment! many times, it's the things we've done to our body and skin that led to the deviation from health, instead of things we failed to do.
there're just too many man made crises to count. sometimes i feel like mankind created all of their problems.
here are some possible reasons and accompanying remedies i can think of.
1. your face wash may be too harsh for you
if your skin feels tight and dry after you washed your face (and prior to applying moisturizer), the product you're using may be ripping off too much natural oils from your face.
you can either limit the usage of the face wash to 2-3 times a week, or whenever necessary (when you feel extra dirty a particular day after walking through a dusty area). you can also change to a soap free cleanser. not only are soap free cleansers milder than normal cleansers (which means they'll strip away lesser oils), they can be formulated to have a slight acidic pH, one that is closer to our skin. [source: howstuffworks]
CETAPHIL | gentle skin cleanser
i use cetaphil's gentle cleanser, it feels like a lotion and leaves my skin hydrate and smooth after washing it off. you can also choose to NOT use any products at all! in fact, i only wash my face with water in the morning. (if you're worried about clogged pores, i'll talk more about that next time)
in fact, you can actually use a lotion to clean your face, just apply it and wipe it off with a cotton pad. the emulsion is effective in lifting away dirt and oils, but you won't risk losing too much oils because the lotion will replenish them.
2. your environment may be too dry for you
this goes beyond how your face feels. if your environment is indeed too dry for your skin, it's very likely that skin over your entire body feels dry too. you make experience itchy, or flaky skin. sometimes the symptoms are so mild, you only notice more grooves and lines on your skin.
if you can make changes to the environment, that'd be best! humidifiers are a good way to amp up that humidity indoor.
what if you in winterland right now and it's dry everywhere, even in your house because of that radiator? you'll need to rely on a really good moisturizer. it should supply your skin with hydration, and also lock in the moisture.
VASELINE | petroleum jelly
on top of the normal lotion/cream you use, you can top it up with a thin layer of vaseline to help you lock everything in, since vaseline is one of the best occlusive out there. don't be afraid to use vaseline on your face. some people say it clog up their pores, but you have to understand that the petroleum jelly molecules are simply too large to even dip their toes into our pores.
3. if it's not the products or environment, then it may be genetics
if you've had dry skin since young irregardless of the humidity of your environment and/or products used, then it's most likely genetics. it's believed that some people are born without the gene that produces filaggrin, the substance that breaks down to form natural moisturizing factors within our skin cell [source: dermnet NZ].
if you fall into this group, you'll need to replace ceramides and lipids to help your skin maintain its integrity. all hope is not lost even if you're born with such a deficiency, you just have to work harder to bring it back to normalcy.
PHYSIOGEL cream | CETAPHIL skin restoring restoraderm moisturizer | URIAGE xemose cream | AVENE xeracalm lipid replenishing balm
brands like physiogel, cetaphil (restoraderm line), uriage (xemose line), avene (xeracalm line) are good options. i've actually tried them all before, some of them were recommended to me by dermatologists. however, in the past when my skin was still on topical steroids these creams did nothing for me. i tried avene after i got of steroids and i was blown away by how nourishing it is. it could either be that avene did a really good job with their balm, or my skin started acting more normal after stopping topical steroids.
our genes is only a set of instructions that dictates how our body behave in a given set of situations. we can't change our genes, but we can definitely change the factors that affect our skin, namely the environment and our lifestyle.
4. perhaps it's your diet and/or lifestyle
this phrase is so cliche, but beauty really is only skin deep. our skin is one of our organs. genetics has predisposed me to show my state of health on my skin, but that's not a bad thing! being able to see them makes it easier for me to monitor my health.
chances are, you've had normal skin and recently, your body started changing so slowly that you only noticed your dry skin after years of bad diet and lifestyle. as the overall health affects the skin, it's hard to pin point any particular causes unless you actually get your blood tested and all metabolic markers checked.
thanks to the modern day diet, your diet probably consist of too much refined carbohydrates (pastries, baked goods, sugar), an excessive omega-6 fat (most vegetable oils) intake, too much protein and too little vegetables, just to name a few possibilities. everyone have different food intolerances, so what is poison to one person may be an elixir to another.
sugar ages your skin by destroying the proteins that gives your skin suppleness. take the collagen away and your skin will look dry and wrinkly. while dry skin and aging skin are caused by different issues, they appear similar. hence, ditch the sugar and you may end up with more youthful (and hydrated looking) skin. [source: huffington post]
omega-6 fats are found to be pro-inflammatory, it's consumption should be lower than the omega-3 fats. eating too much meat will acidify the body, which isn't exactly healthy in the long run. [source: UMM]
also, farmed meat these days are filled with a list of unhealthy substances, you really don't want to eat too much of that.
if you notice my choice of words, you'd already know what you should be doing - reduce refine carbohydrate intake, reduce omega-6 fats and increase omega-3 fats (from flax seed or salmon), make sure you eat more vegetables than meat (to keep 'things' flowing, if you get what i mean :P).
and don't forget to drink sufficient water! not only does it detox your body, it also ensure there is sufficient water underneath your skin to keep it supple. while drinking water don't really translate to hydrated skin, but a dehydrated body is most unlikely to be able to nourish the skin since it's already running low on water supplies! the skin is seen as the least important organs, so the body tend to conserve precious resources for the other organs and that's when we start seeing symptoms on our skin.
IN A NUTSHELL
skin issues is definitely more than just an outside-in problem. many times, skin issues is a manifestation of internal imbalance. this entry contains things i currently know after reading so much about the skin. i'm obsessed with it since i have a skin condition to deal with myself.
one thing i've learnt after everything i've experienced is this: if you take care of your guts, you'll be rewarded with good health (and glowing skin).
i'll keep reading and share new findings in the future :)
title photo credit: alton brown photos
all other photos are taken from their official websites