Dry skin is a common complaint during this time of year. Itchy, dry, irritated, and chapped skin is not something many of us can say we welcome. I know many people have other skin conditions like eczema as well that can complicate the ever common winter skin blues.
Even more common, is the ever popular bottle of lotion, all natural body butter, or all natural lotion bar we use to help make our skin feel better. So what causes dry skin and how can we prevent it?
There have been dozens of studies done on this topic. In fact, every article I have found so far lists "external" factors that can cause our body's largest organ to dry out and not react the way it would naturally.
Several of these external factors include: low temperatures, low humidity, harsh soaps, over exfoliating using loofahs, and indoor heating. Would you believe that even using water that is too hot can cause dry skin? Those with eczema know that those external factors can directly affect their skin already.
Unfortunately, with some of these being environmental factors, there isn't much we can change. However with others, like the soaps, loofahs, water temperatures, how you dry off after cleaning, and other personal body products, we can change those. You adjust these one item at a time until you have made things routine, or all at once depending on your confidence in your ability to make changes and stick to them.
The first thing we can do to protect our skin is to wear protective equipment like gloves when cleaning. A lot of times it can be very easy to forget or just not bother when we are cleaning, but it is extremely important! Many chemicals we use for cleaning even list on the labeling to wear protective equipment because the chemicals used in daily cleaners are not only "drying" to our skin but toxic.
Next, check through your soap products and make sure your products are more on the mild side and use properly formulated soap products as those tend to be more hydrating and softer on your skin. The DIY Bronner's foaming hand soaps and things alike tend to be very drying due to their pH and can cause more damage than good. Despite being more "natural."
When using a loofah, remember you do not need to "scrub” because exfoliating does not need to be a daily routine. "Over scrubbing" can not only remove unnecessary skin, but remove your skin's natural oils and may take it longer to regenerate those valuable oils that protect our skin from drying. If you do want to exfoliate, find an all natural product that is moisturizing because the act of exfoliation can remove all your skin's natural oils.
Showering can be the most relaxing end to your day or the culprit behind creating dry skin. During your shower, remember to use a "warm" temperature versus a hot temperature.
Hotter temperatures from your shower will soften the natural oils your skin produces to keep it moisturized. Once you begin to wash, those oils quickly and too easily are removed. I've heard people from various walks of life even mention starting with warm water and decreasing the temperature even more to make sure those oils aren't completely lost during the cleaning process.
Changing the way you towel off can also improve the condition of your skin. Our natural instinct is to almost rub our skin dry with towels. The proper way to dry off is to "pat" your skin dry. Chaffing of the skin can occur when you vigorously rub a towel to remove every amount of excess water you feel.
You would think that using lotion after drying off would help to moisturize your skin, however, lotions are meant to "seal" moisture in. They do not add moisture. So be sure to pat your skin instead of rubbing it with a towel. In doing so, when you do use lotions, they will prevent the moisture from escaping your skin's outermost layer and assist to prevent drying from environmental factors we cannot control.
Hopefully, this brief blog post will help you prevent dry skin and find healthier ways to care for your skin.