According to one study nearly 30% of the population has dry skin. Dry skin occurs when skin doesn't receive and retain enough moisture. If you’ve been wondering, “Why is my skin so dry?” Here's a few quick answers.
If you have dry skin one of the first things you can check is your skin’s level of hydration. There’s a simple test called the 3 second pinch test.
- Pinch the skin on the back of your hand using two fingers
- Hold in place for three seconds and release
- If the skin snaps back to normal right away that means it is well hydrated. And if it takes slightly longer to go back then it is dehydrated
If the skin on your hand is dehydrated, the skin on your face is dehydrated too.
Signs of Dry Skin
The most common signs of dry skin include the following:
- A feeling of tightness, especially after showering, bathing or washing your face
- Itchy skin
- Skin that looks rough
- Fine lines up to larger cracks in the skin
- An ashen or gray color
- Slight to severe flaking and even scaliness
Why is My Skin So Dry?
The good news is that dry skin usually isn’t serious. It occurs for various reasons. For many people it presents itself as a temporary condition that comes on during certain seasons like winter or from using harsh personal hygiene products. And with a few changes to your environment and your skincare routine you can do a lot to improve and alleviate dry skin.
Dry skin can happen as a result of any or a combination of the following:
- Frequent bathing. Frequent bathing over dries the skin by removing too much natural oil. Swimming in chlorinated pools also contributes to dry skin.
- Harsh soaps and detergents. Soaps that are harsh often have the wrong pH, which compromises the skin’s moisture barrier. Many soaps and detergents are formulated to remove grease and oil, so they remove too much oil from the skin.
- Aging. As we age, the body produces less natural oils, which dries out the skin and becomes just a natural part of getting older.
- Cold, dry winter air. Winter time means drier air outside in the cold and even inside where it’s warm. Winter brings with it a drop in humidity.
- Medications such as topical corticosteroids. Topical steroids, used to treat skin conditions such as rashes, dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis, have the side effect of drying out skin.
Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize. Here are 3 options for dealing with dry skin.
- Water-based moisturizer. Use a water-based moisturizer with Hyaluronic Acid. It attracts up to 1,000 times its own weight in water to the surface of the skin, meaning it actually brings more water directly to the skin.
- Natural oils. Use a natural oil that doesn’t clog pores. Oils lock in moisture and protect skin. Look for squalane, argan oil and rosehip oil. All are good options.
- Creams. Use a cream. They are made from oil and water mixed together. The benefits from creams is that they provide hydration from water and the sealing properties of oil.
3 Tips for Prevention
1 - Water First
The best time to add moisturizer to the skin, and seal it in, is just after you’ve
added water to your skin though showering, bathing or even washing your face. The skin needs water first to hydrate. Then lock in that moisture by using a skincare product. This helps soothe dry skin better than just adding moisturizer to dry skin. When you do this be sure the skin isn’t too wet, just damp before adding any moisturizers.
2 - Use a Humidifier
Winter usually brings about a drop in humidity, both inside your home and outside. The best solution is using a humidifier. And you can use a humidifier year round to help your skin maintain the best level of moisture. For optimal results, set the humidifier to keep the moisture level in the air around 60%.
3 - Minimize Soap Use
Most soaps tend to be too drying. Look for soap free cleansers for your body and oil based cleansers for your face. And avoid fragrances in any products. They tend to be irritating.
Though there are many reasons that leave you wondering, “Why is my skin so dry?’, there are even more ways to treat and soothe dry skin. Always listen to your skin. Wait and watch. Your skin will tell you when it needs more moisture and when you’re heading in the right direction. And above all, when working towards healthy skin, be patient.