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Dry skin has been the bane of my existence since I was a wee child. I cannot remember a time when I didn’t have dry skin; therefore, it is a battle of which I am all too familiar.
We equate winter dryness as a culprit of dry skin, but did you know that there are MANY things that contribute to dry skin? Once we find out what may be causing our dry skin, then we can launch a battle plan that will replace the dry, reptilian crust with a soft, glowing sheath.
Causes of Dry Skin
Toxic Household Products
Cleaning products, air fresheners, laundry detergents and fabric softeners are a few of the toxic household products that can irritate skin. These products contain compounds that strip skin of essential water and oils. They can even lead to more serious skin conditions like ezcema and dermatitis (extremely dry skin) in some people.
The thyroid gland is responsible for releasing hormones that regulate the metabolism in the body or the rate of all of the biochemical changes in the body. When the thyroid gland is inflammed it functions at a much slower rate and is labeled hypothyroidism.
This is a serious condition and needs to be treated by a health care practitioner. Some of the symptoms of hypothyroidism are fatigue, hair falling out, weight gain, and a thickening of the epidermis which results in dry, itchy skin.
Dry skin is more common in the Fall and Winter when the relative humidity is lower. Running the heat in my house definitely makes my dry skin much worse.
Over-Washing With Harsh Chemicals
Bathing or showering too frequently, especially in the winter months, can result in super dry skin. Using really hot water makes it worse.
Even though you are adding water to your skin, it tends to pull out natural moisture and oils as it evaporates. Applying harsh soaps can strip skin of its natural oils and result in tight, itchy skin after bathing.
Some medications can have side effects that lead to dry skin. For example, acne medications can lead to dry skin as well as cholesterol and blood pressure medications.
What Not to Do
Many over-the-counter face moisturizers and body lotions contain petroleum-based ingredients derived from crude oil including petroleum jelly. Many of us have heard stories of women using only petroleum jelly on their face well into their 7o’s who had hardly any wrinkles.
I believe this to be true. Petroleum jelly can prevent wrinkles but at what cost? And, how does it work?
Petroleum jelly is a combination of mineral oil, waxes, and paraffins that trap moisture inside the skin by creating a solid barrier at the surface. It is true that the skin needs moisture to prevent the signs of aging, but these petroleum-based products pose a huge long-term risk to your health.
These compounds have been found to accumulate in fat cells over time and have been discovered in breast milk. A 2009 study found that there might be a link to mineral oil-based moisturizers and the rate at which skin cancer tumors form.
Petroleum-based products provide a seal over the skin preventing it from “breathing” and trapping dirt and oil inside pores. Anyone with acne will understand why that’s a very bad thing. It’s important for the skin to be able to detoxify and take in air, water, and nutrients.
Petroleum-based products have also been linked to estrogen dominance which is a condition where the individual has a much higher ratio of estrogen to progesterone. This hormone imbalance can be the underlying cause of many frustrating and chronic health issues including infertility, weight gain, fatigue, thyroid dysfunction, and even cancer. You can read more about endocrine disrupting chemicals here.
How To Naturally Soothe Dry Skin
For some people, combating dry skin is a constant battle. I happen to be one of those people. I have found that dry skin must be attacked on two fronts: from the inside out AND from the outside in. Both of these tactics are necessary in order to keep your skin feeling and looking it’s best.
Drink More Water
If dry skin is a shortage of moisture, then it makes sense that we need to make sure that we’re giving our body enough water. A rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water. So, a 120 lb woman would drink approximately 60 ounces of water per day to keep things running smoothly.
Eat Healthy Fats
What you eat definitely affects how you look. It’s not a quick fix, but adding healthy fats to your diet will, over time, improve the appearance of your dry skin. Coconut, avocados, salmon, and eggs all contain healthy fats that will improve the look of your skin.
Other healthy foods include gelatin which will help your body produce valuable collagen and sweet potatoes which will provide Vitamin A and Vitamin C which help to protect your skin from damage.
Choose Non-Toxic Skincare Products
I touched on this earlier when I mentioned the dangers of using petroleum-based products. Petroleum is just one of many harmful chemicals found in skincare products. It takes a bit of research to find companies that are committed to making safe products.
I became aware of this several years ago and did extensive research using the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database to find safe products. If you’re not aware of this independent organization, then let me introduce you. I have found the information to be free from bias and trustworthy.
They have almost 70,000 personal care products in the database and rate the products from 1 to 10. 1 being the safest and 10 being the most toxic.
You can check out how they rate the products here. If you are curious about the safety of any of your products, then you can look it up in the database to know for sure whether or not it is safe. If the product itself isn’t listed, then you can enter some of the ingredients, and it will rate the ingredients.
I’ve used many products from several different safe brands, but the company I’ve settled on as my “go-to” safe brand is Beautycounter. I have been so impressed with their commitment to safety and transparency. They have an unprecedented 5-Step Ingredient Selection Process that has set a new standard for the safe skincare industry. I trust this company and order most of the skincare items that I don’t make myself from Beautycounter. These are my secret weapons against dry skin.
Products for the Face
I turned 50 this year which means that aging is a definite concern and my dry skin has me in an uphill battle with time. I have always used moisturizers on my face which has definitely paid off, but since using Beautycounter, I can feel confident that the products that I’m using are not causing harm to my health long-term.
Made with vitamin C to brighten the appearance of the skin and
raspberry and cranberry seed oils to moisturize. This buttery balm is
free of fragrance, but rich in healing moisture. It can be used as a cleanser, an over-night hydrating mask, eye makeup remover, for rough elbows and heels.
I take my makeup off with it every night in the winter and use it as an overnight mask a few times a week. I love how my face feels in the morning! It’s incredibly soft, and I see a visible reduction in wrinkles.
Breakthrough Bio-Mimic Technology harnesses the unique life-giving properties of plants to exactly match the structure of skin, giving it precisely what it needs. I use this every day before putting on my makeup. Apply in the morning for hydration all day long.
I use this facial oil every night before bed. It’s considered a dry oil which doesn’t leave your skin feeling greasy at all. It’s a proprietary blend of seven natural oils that moisturize, nourishes, and helps firm skin. I follow it with the Countermatch Recovery Sleeping Cream.I’ve also been known to put a drop in my tint skin foundation when I apply it for extra moisture.
Products for the Body
This Lemongrass Sugar Scrub smells good enough to eat sloughing off dead skin cells and revealing the soft, glowing skin underneath. Followed by the Body Butter in Citrus Mimosa, these are the perfect pair for combating dry, winter skin.
Countermatch Adaptive Body Moisturizer is my absolute favorite body lotion! The Countermatch Biomimicry technology somehow magically gages how much moisture your skin needs and works with your body to deliver the perfect amount to last all day. I only need to apply this once in the morning, and I’m good to go for the rest of the day.
Bathe Less Often
Bathing or showering in hot water can definitely make dry skin much worse. Instead of showering everyday, try taking a sponge bath every other day or more, if possible.
Choose Gentle Cleansers
Many soaps and body washes contain harsh chemicals that strip skin of natural moisture and oils. Try using a natural shea butter soap or this body wash from Beautycounter. Apply a body oil while you’re still wet and follow with a body lotion or body butter.
Dry skin can be caused by toxic household products, hypothyroidism, low humidity, over-washing with harsh chemicals, medications, and a whole host of other things.
Please make sure that you steer clear of petroleum-based products, because they can pose long-term health issues. To find out if the products that you are using are safe, enter them into the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database.
In order to combat dry skin, make sure that you are drinking enough water and eating enough healthy fats. It’s crucial that you use non-toxic products. You can read about why I chose Beautycounter as my favorite safe skincare brand here.
Finally, take a sponge bath instead of a daily shower or tub bath using gentle cleansers and body washes. Dry skin doesn’t have to rule your life in the winter. You can fight back and win with these simple tips.
How do you manage dry skin? What have I forgotten?