Dry skin is a common and usually mild condition caused by the lack of ample moisture in the skin. It is often a temporary condition that occurs in cold and dry weather.
However, it can also indicate a damaged skin barrier caused by aging or using harsh ingredients in the skincare routine.
The easiest way to identify your skin type is to wash your face and leave your skin bare for 20 minutes. If your skin feels dry and stretched out, you have dry skin.
Other common symptoms of dry skin include itching, flakiness, redness, or scaling. With appropriate changes to your lifestyle and skincare regimen, most of these symptoms can be reversed.
1. Harsh soaps and cleansers
Harsh surfactants present in certain soaps and face washes can be one of the culprits of skin dryness. Studies have found that a popular surfactant called Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or SLS is a potential skin irritant that can lead to dryness. Hence, you should opt for mild and SLS-free cleansers if you are dealing with dry skin. The cleanser should remove excess grease without stripping your skin or stretching it out. It should also have a pH value between 4.5 and 6 to be safe for your skin barrier.
2. Skin aging
Aging is another factor that can contribute to dry skin. As we grow older, the oil production on the skin slows down, leading to dryness. To counteract this, you need to use a moisturizer rich in humectants and anti-aging ingredients.
3. Medical conditions
Dry skin can sometimes indicate an underlying medical condition. This includes skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema, as well as internal medical issues such as diabetes, kidney failure, or hypothyroidism. If the dryness on your skin is severe and is accompanied by extreme itching, inflammation, or crustiness, you should consult a doctor. This is the safest way to identify the root cause of your dry skin and the appropriate treatment for the same.
4. Fragrance in beauty products
Many skincare brands add synthetic fragrance or essential oils to their products to mask the strong scent of the other ingredients. While fragrance makes the experience of applying skincare quite pleasant, it can often irritate or dry out your skin. So, if you have dry or sensitive skin, choose fragrance-free skincare and makeup products. They might not smell as pleasant but are safer for your skin.
5. Acne creams and retinoids
If your skincare routine includes anti-acne products, they could be the reason behind your dry skin. Acne treatments often contain ingredients such as salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. While these ingredients reduce acne, they can dry out or irritate the skin too. Retinoids are another class of skincare ingredient that can lead to dryness and irritation. Always use these ingredients in moderation or as per a dermatologist’s advice.
6. Hot or hard water
According to studies, using hard water to wash your skin can lead to dryness, irritation, and atopic dermatitis. The high calcium levels in hard water can damage the skin barrier and lead to the deposition of surfactants that causes further skin irritation. Also, using hot water to wash your face can strip all the moisture from your skin. Instead, opt for tepid or cold water.