Dry skin, like the parched remains of a once succulent plant, lacks sufficient nutrients to nourish and feed it. The fundamental need of a dry skin is oil. Oils are vital for the wellbeing of the skin; they keep the surface pliable and young-looking, and act as a natural coating to prevent excessive moisture loss.
When natural oils (sebum) produced by sebaceous glands in the skin are secreted onto the skin’s surface, they act as a protective barrier. Too little sebum results in dry patches, flaking and even peeling skin. Lips become parched and cracked and, as the day goes on, your skin feels drier and tighter.Dry skin is accompanied by a dull complexion due to the dried out, compacted surface layers lacking blood supply. It tends to look prematurely aged, with the emergence of fine lines and wrinkles. In addition to environment and climate, hormones, medication, genetics and diet may also play a role. The condition of dry skin can be aggravated by overuse of soap, detergents and toners.
How to treat it
Concentrate on boosting the skin’s levels of nourishment. Begin by treating internally with a diet rich in essential fatty acids, found in oily fish like salmon.
Use topical treatment creams continuously to keep the surface of your skin supple and nourished. Be careful not to use products that strip away your natural oils. The most important step is to nourish your skin with a rich cream that contains more oil than water; this will seal moisture into the upper layers.
Cosmetic oil is also good to use, but should be limited to night use, as it leaves a greasy residue on the surface of your skin. Using an exfoliator at least three times per week helps remove dead cells and improves penetration of nourishing treatments. For maximum moisture, treat your skin to a nourishing mask twice a week after exfoliating.
A dehydrated skin lacks sufficient moisture (water), as opposed to oil, in the superficial layers. Eighty percent of South Africans have dehydrated skin due to our work environment (air-conditioned or heated rooms) and hot, dry climatic conditions; the use of diuretics and alcohol consumption also increases dehydration. Dehydration can affect all skin types, whether normal, oily or dry; to test for dehydration, run the side of your finger up your cheek, if you see fine horizontal lines you know you’re dehydrated. Your skin will also tend to have a dull appearance.
How to treat it
Increase your intake of water (at least 8 glasses a day); avoid further moisture loss through excessive temperatures. Top up the moisture levels in the surface layers of skin with an intensive moisture boost. Use products that contain more water than oil; the aim is to replenish and lock moisture into your skin. Applying moisturiser helps to do just that. Avoid washing your face with soap and apply creams while your skin is slightly moist.