Dryness appears as small, whitish scales on the surface of the skin sometimes accompanied with redness, cracking and even flaking in the area. Flaking is usually caused when old dead skin cells on the surface layer clump together to form visible white rough patches on the skin and then flake off appearing as large specks on clothes or in the hair. This usually occurs when the bonds holding the cells together aren't sufficiently weakened enough during the skins normal shedding process to naturally slough off the old cells from the outer layer of skin. Although the exact reason why the bonds sometimes fail to weaken enough for shedding is not greatly understood, it is thought that as the skin matures, factors such as sun damage, premature cells reaching the surface too soon and altered hormonal or genetic factors may possibly be the cause to the build up of the clumps of dead cells that lead to the look of dry rough skin.
Dryness can be an uncomfortable and visually displeasing problem that can range from mild to moderate scaling on the surface of the skin. Although a decrease in the natural shedding of the skin cells plays an important role in the appearance of dryness, additional factors such as dehydration also factor in causing the skin to look stiff, tight, dry and dull. Although the underlying cause of dry skin is a complex problem to solve, it is important to have awareness that certain external factors such as constantly fluctuating hot and cold dry weather, the use of solvent like detergents on the skin, solid soaps, household cleaners and malnutrition can also aid in the formation and irritation of dry skin on the body, face and hands.
In order to treat dryness, ingredients used to draw and trap water in the skins surface are added to serum, gel or cream based formulations in order to increase the skins moisture and prevent the skin from losing water to the surrounding environment.
The majority of these formulas aimed at targeting dry skin, work by providing the outer layer with a large water injection in order to rehydrate the area and then create a protective barrier over the skin to prevent that moisture being evaporated back into the surrounding environment. There are two main types of ingredients in skincare used to achieve these moisturizing processes; occlusive/emollients and humectants.
Occlusive/emollient ingredients work by forming a protective barrier over the surface of the skin to reduce natural water loss caused by moisture evaporating out of the skin into the surrounding air.
Humectants on the other hand, attract and draw water from the surrounding air to the skin increasing the skins moisture levels by replenishing the water in the outer layers which are usually lost through evaporation.
Occlusives/emollients also tend to be used in moisturising products because of their ability to reduce friction between the skin and surrounding objects e.g. clothing and upholstery preventing irritation that promotes dry skin and cracking.
Almost all moisturising products available utilize one or more of these water retaining ingredients in order to improve the look and feel of the skin.
In additional ingredients such as antioxidants (e.g. vitamin C, E and selenium), chemical exfoliates (AHA’s and BHA’s) and cell enhancing substances (retinol) can also be found in many quality moisturising products in order to improve the look and appearance of dry skin by helping to slough off the dead white flakes and improving the performance of the cells on the outer layers of the skin.
Note: Moisturising skin regularly is essential for every skin type, including dry, combination, sensitive and oily. The trick to finding the right moisturiser to suit your needs is to find the correct formula consistency that works well for your skin type. For example, those suffering from oily skin should not avoid moisturizing their face altogether.
Excessive oil on the skin can be troublesome and should be removed daily with a well-tailored oily skincare routine, (skincare routine for oily skin), although natural oils are great for helping the skin to stay moisturised by trapping water under the film, the daily removal of the oil by cleansing and the lack of water that is absorbed by the skin past the oily barrier during the day means that someone's skin suffering with oiliness can end up just as parched as someone suffering with dryness.
If you suffer from oily skin try using a light formulated, water/serum based moisturiser instead of a heavy cream to still do the job of introducing water without adding to the build up of oil on the face. However for those with dry or extremely dry skin try using a moisturiser with a slightly more cream like consistency if you feel your water based moisturiser is just not doing the job.
Below we recommend some great moisturisers and body creams that are well formulated to help tackle your dehydrated or dry skin whether you’re prone to oiliness or it’s as dry as a grain of sand: