The Skin Nerd: Dry skin products will make you a soft touch

The Skin Nerd: Dry skin products will make you a soft touch

Dry skin often comes down to your genetics but there are ways to stop the tightness and flaking.

My skin is always dry, no matter what I do. I’ve tried treatments, lots of different moisturisers, hydrating masks — you name it — but I’m still left flaky, tight, and dry. Any advice? — Jenny, Douglas

There’s a difference between dryness, as in a genetic predisposition to having skin that produces less sebum, and dehydration, when the skin struggles to stay hydrated. Dryness can be alleviated, but is a life-long struggle, whereas dehydration can be ongoing, if left without the products and nutrients that help, or it can crop up willy-nilly.

From your description, I am guessing that you have a genetic predisposition to dryness, especially if nothing seems to have helped. You may not adore my answer, because it involves many steps, but, if you’re at your wit’s end, you might try it.

We can’t encourage your skin to make more sebum, as that is defined by your hormones and how you’re built. There are some things about dry skin that we can’t change: for example, it tends to be thinner, due to a lack of the lipids that help to hold layers together, which can mean it is more sensitive, too.

The approach is internal and external.

Hopefully, you drink heaps of water. However, water does not equal oil, so you need to get lipids in to promote your skin’s lipid barrier, the protective coating that helps the skin to retain moisture. Essential fatty acids are nutrients that can help to promote healthy, functioning skin with better hydration. EFA or omega intake, through diet and supplementation, makes a world of difference.

Vitamin A, both on the inside and topically, can work to regulate oil production, so a vitamin A supplement on the inside, plus a vitamin A serum on the outside, unless pregnant, breastfeeding or planning on either, will assist with skin hydration.

Now, let’s move on to products for hydration. There are three hydrating ingredients: Humectants are water-binding ingredients, beneficial to oily skin and dry skin alike; emollients are what we’d usually refer to as moisturising and skin-softening; and occlusives, which work to create a protective film on the skin and lock hydration in.

People with truly dry skin may need all three. That doesn’t necessarily mean three different products. For example, you may have tried a hyaluronic acid serum. Hyaluronic acid is a humectant, which means it binds water, but it will do little to lock anything in to the skin or back up your skin’s barrier.

If you follow it up with a moisturiser or night cream that contains shea butter (an emollient), plus mineral oil or a silicone ingredient (occlusive), your skin is simultaneously hydrated deeply, in the upper layers, and has a coating to lock them all in.

What’s frustrating is that this slightly higher level of effort is needed all the time with dry skin. Thankfully, there are products for your dry skin needs, so do your research and find a routine that will quench your skin’s thirst!

The Nerdie Pick

The Skin Nerd: Dry skin products will make you a soft touch

A sci-fi name for a product with benefits grounded in reality. What this product is is identical to our skin’s NMF, or natural moisturising factor, a combo of different hydrators that our skin makes for itself to keep itself hydrated.

The derma l replenishment contains natural sugar derivatives, amino acids, sodium PCA and fatty-acid-rich ingredients to mimic the NMF and deeply hydrate. Fabulous for truly dry skin, skin that is dehydrated, and oily or congestion-prone skin.

■ Neostrata Skin Active Dermal Replenishment. €56.95 from selected pharmacies and theskinnerd.com.

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