Did you know that only 10% of the world’s population has truly dry skin? As in, genetically does not produce enough oil to maintain its acid mantle, aka natrual barrier. We call this skin type “Oil-Dry” because it doesn’t produce enough of the natural oils skin needs to function properly. 10% of the world’s population has skin that produces so much oil, their pores are so large and free-flowing, the skin actually never experiences acne. The rest of us have combination skin, with oil production occuring along a spectrum. This is why I believe there are 4 skin types, not three – Dry, Slightly Dry, Slightly Oily, and Oily. As my instructor at beauty school (may she rest in peace) said, “There ain’t no such thing as normal skin.”
Oiliness and Dryness at the Same Time??
Winter dryness actually affects everyone’s skin, not just those born with a genetic lack of oil in theirs. However, for people with acne, or even just skin on the oilier side, dryness can be quite baffling, becuase we’re just not used to it. On top of that, this kind of dryness can have many people breaking out more in the winter than in the summer, even though the opposite may seem to make more sense. Dryness isn’t not just about itchiness, flaking, tightening, or redness. Personally, my skin always used to look far worse in winter as an adult, with more breakouts, dullness and redness. My oily adult skin always looked its best in summer.
Knowing what to do about winter dryness starts with an understanding of how it happens in the first place.
Think of the skin as a brick wall with a concrete slab on top. When the concrete slab is nice and intact, the bricks underneath are protected, and therefore, also stay intact. But what happens when the concrete slab gets broken up? The bricks underneath get broken as well, and typically this will happen under different parts of the slab. The slab itself gets very uneven, with cracks and parts missing in some sections and intact concrete in other sections.
The very top layer of human skin is made up of an amazing network of living and dying protein-rich skin cells, softening lipids and waxes, and water-loving sugars. When functioning properly, this network keeps your skin soft and pliable, draws water from your bloodstream, takes wastes away, and renews itself each and every day. We call this network the Lipid Barrier or Acid Mantle. Both terms are used in Esthetics. Lately, many are also referring to it as the skin’s “Natural Barrier”.
The environmental factors of cold wind and forced heat resulting in low humidity evaporate water right out of your skin. This water loss also leads to a loss of valuable lipids (oils and fats), so dead skin cell build-up now ends with flaking, pulling, and a loss of suppleness. This is what we mean when we talk of the skin’s natural barrier losing its “integrity” – the skin literally gets broken. You may have heard the term, “compromised barrier” online or from your Esthetician.
Why is my skin so sensitive when it gets dry?
With the barrier broken, water molecules are easily lost through microscopic cracks, and nerves and blood vessels located below are now closer to the surface where the cracks are, so sensitivity and subsequent redness become a problem as well. This is why sensitivity and dehydration so often go hand in hand; dehydration leads to a broken barrier and vise versa.
This cycle of dehydration and sensitivity continues the more the skin’s barrier is compromised. Dehydration leads to itching, itching leads to scratching, breaking the skin even further. See how that works?
Sensitized skin can also be more reactive to things that might not otherwise bother it, such as even just a little bit of rubbing or pressure, excess oil production from hormonal changes, or skincare that has a slightly lower pH like AHAs or Vitamin C products. This abnormal sensitivity even has the potential to inflame pores and cause an acne breakout.
So, do I need a thicker moisturizer?
If you treat the dryness by slathering on thick creams or lotions that are meant to treat extra-dry skin, the chance of introducing pore-clogging and sensitizing ingredients to your skin goes way up, and then you break out in the midst of all that dryness!
Your skin’s Lipid Barrier needs to be repaired. This involves a lot more than just slapping on thicker moisturizer. We have to attract and bind water to the barrier, rather than lubricate the skin to soften it. From there, we can prevent further water loss.
What can I use to help my skin??
Your Daily Routine:
- Use a cleanser that is non-drying yet still rinses well.
- Use a non-alcohol spray-on toner directly after each washing, do not blot, do not wait.
- Serums should include ingredients that bind water to the skin, known as “humectants” such as hyaluronic acid and glycerine; Beta Glucans, which come from oats or wheat, help boost the skin’s immune system and will calm, soothe, and help the skin rebuild itself.
- Very important! A non-clogging, hydrating SPF15 or higher must be used every day no matter what the weather or home/office lighting.
- Use nighttime lotions that are designed to repair, replenish, and hydrate.
Your Weekly Routine:
For a real boost to your hydration efforts, one of my favorite masks is a gel that hydrates, lightly exfoliates, and helps to reduce redness all at the same time.
It tingles a teeny bit at first, but then cools down and feels amazing. It’s left on for 15 minutes, then removed as much as possible with tissue first to make rinsing easier, and then rinsed all the way with cool or tepid water.
With these products you can have the comfortable, worry-free skin you crave so you can have one less thing to fret about in this cold weather. Even if you’re located in a warmer place, you can still have winter skin woes. Let me know!
Your adult acne problem has a source, and clearing your skin requires finding that source and either eliminating it or healing it. You can start right now by filling out my Eval by Email® Online Skincare Consultation Form created specially for ages Gen-Y to Baby Boom!
Know someone who could benefit from this post ?
Please share !