Friday, September 21, 2012

How to Treat Dry Skin

A tub of moisturizer. (Photo: Amazon)

Our skin contains oils that act as natural barriers against the outside environment. Dry skin results when our natural barriers are stripped of due to outside factors such as harsh products, low humidity weather, and too much scrubbing of the skin. Dry skin may also be due to heredity or other medical conditions.

It is important to treat dry skin as too much dryness can lead to cracks, fissures, and irritation. One important product for dry skin care is the moisturizer.

There are many forms of moisturizers ranging from lotions, creams, and ointments. Lotions are the lightest form of moisturizer and are only useful to normal and oily skin. Ointments, on the other hand, are the heaviest form of moisturizer thereby the most effective form to seal in moisture, but it may not be convenient to apply ointments regularly.

Different types of ingredients found in moisturizers work in different ways to treat dryness. Emollients are ingredients that add moisture to the skin (such as petrolatum). Humectants absorb moisture from the environment (such as glycerol). Occlussives trap moisture in the skin and prevent water loss (such as petrolatum and lanolin).

When choosing skincare products, it is best to avoid products containing alcohol, surfactants (such as ammonium lauryl sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfate - see Skin Care Ingredients Glossary), and soaps (such as sodium tallowate and cocoate). Avoid salicylic acid and alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) as well.

Certain lifestyle changes are also helpful when it comes to treating dry skin. Eating foods rich in omega-fatty acids, drinking plenty of water, using a humidifier at home, and wearing non-irritating clothes such as those made of cotton and other natural fibers are just some of the ways to deal with dry skin.


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