How to prevent dry skin - 10 home remedies
From having a good skin care routine to avoiding irritants and protecting your skin's acid mantle, these 10 natural home remedies are easy ways to stop dry skin.
1. Use moisturiser effectively – Applying a good moisturiser (see step 2) really is an effective way to get rid of dry skin. Moisturising little and often - 3 to 4 times a day – is a more effective way to help dry skin than slathering on a lot of moisturiser once a day. It’s particularly beneficial to moisturise just after a shower or bath when the skin is damp, so that you lock in moisture. And don’t over-moisturise; skin can become ‘lazy’ and not produce enough of its own oils (sebum) if you apply moisturiser to areas that don’t need it. This is particularly true of combination skin where there are patches of dry and oilier skin.
2. Choose your moisturiser ingredients carefully – Research shows that replacing the skin's lost lipids with moisture that is most similar to those lipids offers rapid and effective repair*. This makes sense - the body can quickly make use of substances that it recognises and needs. The skin's primary lipid components include free fatty acids such as linoleic acid (omega 6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega 3) and one or both of these are found abundantly in certain plant oils like olive, sunflower, rosehip and sea buckthorn seed oils. Indeed, research* proves that specific plant extracts are highly effective natural remedies for dry skin. (All Odylique skin care is formulated to match the skin's natural moisturising factor of lipids and other key components as closely as possible.) In contrast, petroleum or mineral oil offers no kinship with the skin and no nutritional properties.
Remember also that oil is only one part of the skin's natural moisturising factor. While oils (and balms) should provide valuable skin nutrients and conserve existing moisture in the skin, helping to lock it in and slow down evaporation from the skin's surface, only water and plant juices provide added moisture. So if moisture is depleted the skin benefits from a carefully balanced moisturiser product comprising both water and oil, to keep it smooth and hydrated.
3. Use the right moisturiser for the right part of your body. The top layer of your skin around the eyes is half as deep (0.05mm) as the skin elsewhere on your body (0.1mm) and the skin on your feet can be more than 10 times as thick. Accordingly, your skin will benefit from a lighter moisturiser around your eyes (lower oil content to avoid puffiness) than on your feet. Similarly, use a richer moisturiser on dry patches of your body and consider not using any moisturiser at all on non-dry, unexposed areas or any oily areas of your face. See our infographic for which moisturiser is right for me where.
4. Cleanse to promote cell renewal, but only exfoliate gently. Cleansing helps to get rid of dry dead skin cells and promote renewal of cells that can hold moisture more effectively. Exfoliation removes dead skin cells to a higher degree and should be done carefully or not at all on very sensitive skin to avoid leaving the skin open to attack from cold air and toxins. On your face, consider using an oil-based cleanser or cleansing balm; they work very well on makeup and slide impurities off without dragging the skin. If you prefer a rinse-off cleanser, try one of the innovative gel to milk cleansers that also leave a layer of hydration.
5. Don’t get into hot water - When bathing, showering or washing your hands, avoid very hot water, even if it does feel glorious on a cold day. Hot water can damage your skin and leave it feeling dry.
6. Or work up a lather - Bubbles from soap and hand wash are often associated with effective cleansing. But actually more lather doesn’t necessarily mean cleaner. A mild plant oil soap or gentle detergent will do the job just as well. Harsh detergents do have a strong binding mechanism with fats, stripping out the dirt and grease, but they also remove your skin’s natural oils. Choose products with mild cleansers and avoid sulphates which are acknowledged as being among the harshest detergents. [image]
7. Be aware of pH balance – Protecting your skin’s ‘acid mantle’ – the watery part of a film that covers your skin is crucial in understanding how to stop dry skin. The acid mantle is so called because it is slightly acidic (at pH 4.75 – 5.75 depending on age, sex and where the skin is on the body). Damage the acid mantle by altering its pH and the skin struggles to create its own lipids, leaving it susceptible to moisture loss and no longer able to work as a barrier to toxins, bacteria and allergens. But many skin care products and particularly detergents e.g. shampoos, shower gel and some soaps are actually alkaline and can upset your skin’s pH. So look out for wash products that are pH-balanced - 5.5 is commonly used as the best all-round value.
8. Wrap up in winter – one of the best home remedies for dry skin is simply to wrap up warm. Create a barrier of soft snuggly hats, scarves and gloves to guard against dry skin in winter. Likewise, light cotton clothes can help to prevent skin dehydration in summer.
9. Avoid irritants - from harsh chemicals to rough clothes to cleaning products – irritants can make us itchy which just makes dry skin worse. Damaging the skin through scratching leaves it more prone to moisture loss, dehydration as well as toxins and allergens.
10. Drink and eat well – Regular fluid intake is another important home remedy to help skin looking healthy from the inside. Drinking regularly (water or herbal tea) throughout the day is better for absorption of fluid in the body than taking a lot in one go. Foods that are beneficial for dry skin include fish, pulses and nuts because they are rich in the fats and oils that occur naturally in the skin. If your skin is very dry all the time, it may be worth consulting a nutritionist. Supplements like GLA (gamma linoleic acid), borage oil and starflower oil are often recommended for dry skin as they provide a rich and readily available source of skin nutrients to correct dietary imbalance.
*Healing fats of the skin: the structural and immunologic roles of the omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. McCusker MM1, Grant-Kels JM. Clin Dermatol. 2010 Jul-Aug;28(4):440-51. doi: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2010.03.020.
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