Dry winter skin, which is tight, flaking and itching?
There are a number of reasons why our skin becomes dry, especially at this time of year. I hope to help you understand why your skin may be dry at this time and what can be done to help it and what should be avoided.
The skin has a natural protective barrier; this barrier is there for a number of reasons including to prevent the loss of water by sealing the surface of the skin. It is made up from the natural secretions, sweat and sebaceous oil. This protective layer is sensitive to intrinsic and extrinsic conditions, lack of humidity during the cold winter months, lack of EFA’s in our diet, using soaps and cleansers with too high PH, not drinking enough water and hormonal changes.
When we understand how these factors affect our skin we can then restore health and moisture to our skin.
Our skin has a natural PH of 4.5 to 5.5, with some exceptions due to skin or health conditions, which is in the acid side of the PH Scale. Unfortunately, the majority of facial and body soaps are in the alkaline spectrum of that scale. This is significant when you understand that by increasing the ph of the skin it creates susceptibility to skin damage; it can cause the temporary loss of the protective barrier, and can take between 3 to 14 hours to be restored. This can contribute to lipid dryness and dehydration of the skin.
A low fat diet can contribute to the lack of lipids in our skin.. The protective layer is made up of these fats which like a waterproof cover protect the skin from outside elements and from the skin structures losing water, transepidermal water loss. Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) are the building blocks of body fats and biological membranes, the body cannot manufacture these and so we must either ingest or topically apply these EFA’s to our skin. Supplements like evening primrose oil, Omega 3 and 6, Vitamin F, linolenic acid or safflower oil daily can be taken or massaged into the skin.
We are always being told how important water is to our daily diet; this includes the health of our skin. Moisturizers work by using ingredients that are either occlusive and/or humectants. Occlusive agents literally work by physically blocking water loss from the skin, preventing evaporation of water. Humectants draw water to the epidermis (top layer of the skin) from the deeper layers of the skin, rarely from the environment, especially in the winter with limited humidity. If you do not drink enough water your skin will not have the amount it requires to stay healthy hydrated. Try adding 10% apple juice to your water to increase the absorption rate dramatically, also the water should be as close to body temperature as possible.
If you have the heating on at home or work, try using a humidifier to increase the water content in the ambient air.
Talk with your GP or Gynecologist about use of hormonal supplements.
Look at the moisturizers and understand what ingredients are and how they help.
Professional facial treatments are also very beneficial, if your skin is particularly dry you can come as often as weekly for a short intensive course to rehydrate and restore your protective barrier.
I have a list of popular soaps and their PH levels. I also have a book of cosmetic ingredients, you are more than welcome to send me a list of your ingredients and I can let you know what they are and how they can help.