The main cause of dry skin (Xerosis) is exposure to factors that strip away essential, protective lipids from our skin. There are also medical reasons for dry skin such as certain drugs, hypothyroidism or diabetes which should be evaluated and treated by your doctor. But for the 100 million of us that suffer from the other common causes of dry skin, here are some tips to help protect the largest organ of our body:
Take a soothing warm bath to relax BUT don’t use bubble bath. The main ingredient in conventional bubble bath is sodium lauryl sulfate – a detergent that strips skin of its natural oils. These oils are NATURALLY protective and help our skin hold onto water, keeping it well hydrated. Try making your own, natural, self-foaming bubble bath using soapwort root powder, olive, cottonseed (or apricot kernel) oil, lavender, glycerin, aloe, oatmeal and vitamin E. The same applies to the use of soaps and cleansers. Similarly, don’t linger in a hot shower or bath. Hot water strips the skin of its natural moisture. Take tepid showers and limit showering time to 2-3 minutes. Pat skin dry and apply a “sealant” to hold the moisture in. Ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin are humectants and help attract and retain water.
You are what you eat. Eating foods rich in Vitamin E and F such as green leafy vegetables, nuts and salmon or taking omega rich supplements will result in a visible difference to your dry skin within 6 weeks.
A high carb, high sugar diet, on the other hand, will increase your cortisol or stress hormone levels triggering the inflammatory response that leads to dry, sensitive skin.
Don’t over-moisturize. Constantly slathering on a thick, creamy moisturizer that promises to keep your skin “youthful, soft and hydrated” is comparable to trying to fill a balloon with a hole at the bottom…you’ll never get it full, even if you continue to fill it because it’s leaking at the bottom. We wrap food in saran wrap so it doesn’t dry out. So apply a “sealant” to moist skin to help it retain its suppleness.
Stop the hand-sanitizer epidemic! The main antiseptic ingredient in anti-bacterial hand sanitizers is 70% or more ethyl alcohol which can dry and irritate skin. Many people don’t even wash their hands anymore opting instead to use sanitizer. At a minimum, choose one that also contains glycerin and aloe.
Use sunblock everyday all year round. UVA and UVB rays are always there. They don’t disappear as the seasons change or when daylight savings time kicks in. In fact, snow reflects 85% of UV radiation compared to 2% from grass (known as the Albedo Effect) so applying a 30 SPF sunblock is essential to protect your skin from oxidative stress. This leads to an inflammatory response in the skin resulting in more wrinkles and drier skin.
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