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dry skin

The skin is made up many layers, but the top layer, the stratum corneum, is made up of dead cells.  These cells contain lipids, oils and other ingredients which assist the skin in retaining moisture.  During the winter, the humidity is low and we are bombarded by dry heat at home, work and the car.  Windy weather also causes the skin to lose moisture because moisture is stripped away by the wind and during the winter the body does not produce as much oil.  Colder weather may also cause chapped lips, dandruff, cracked hands and feet; it also exacerbates eczema and psoriasis.

Here are other culprits that could rob your skin of moisture:

Soap – Harsh soaps can alter the pH of the skin and make it more alkaline.  Change to a more emollient soap such as Cetaphil or soothing soap like Aveeno.  Commercial soaps contain synthetic chemicals and fragrances which may also contribute to dryness.

Long hot showers – I know a long hot shower or bath feels good during the winter, but hot water strips the skin of its natural protective oils.  A warm shower or bath is better.  Pat the body down with a towel, but leave the skin slightly damp.  Immediately apply a moisturizer with heavy lipids such as cocoa or shea butter.  I, personally, prefer avocado oil during the winter because it feeds the body with extra Vitamin D on the outside since we do not get as much from the sun during the winter.

Shaving – You are not only removing unwanted hair, but the razor also removes dead cells causing the skin to loose moisture.  Make sure the blade is clean and sharp.  The best time to shave is immediately following a bath or shower when the skin is most hydrated and the hairs are softer and pliable.

Frizzy/Brittle hair – Dry weather plays havoc on the hair as well as the body.  Hair has more static and becomes frizzy and this could last the entire winter season.  Avoid the use of hot water and condition after every shampoo.  Blow drying, ironing and perming can also dry the hair.  Use a wooden brush or comb with plastic teeth to fight static and moisture loss.  Be sure to wear a scarf or cap.

Other culprits:

Diabetes – This is one of the earliest symptoms of the disease.  High blood sugar leads to poor circulation.  Frequent urination causes the body to become dehydrated.

Sun damage – Too much sun exposure can leave the skin dry and it can affect collagen production.  Loss of collagen leads to wrinkles, sagging and dryness in the skin.

Swimming – This is a good exercise for the body, but swimming any time of the year can play havoc on the skin and hair.  A long time in the pool removes the protective oils from the skin.  Shower in warm water immediately after a dip in the pool to remove chlorine and follow with a good moisturizer.

Ageing – As we age, our cells do not retain moisture, no matter how much water we drink.  The water we consume may keep our internal organs hydrated, but our skin is on the outside and there may not be enough left to reach the skin.  The skin will begin to lose elasticity and sag.  Use hydrating creams, lotions and serums to protect the skin.

Medication – Strong medications like steroids, antibiotics and antihistamines can cause dry skin.  Improve your diet by eating raw fruits, salads, drink plenty of water and avoid junk food.

Hypothyroidism – This may mean that the thyroid gland is underactive which causes the oil and sweat glands not to produce protective oils.

To read more on this topic, click on the following links:

Sharad, J. (2014). Health India, “Which of these 4 common mistakes is giving you dry skin?”. Retrieved January 8, 2014, from: http://health.india.com/beauty/which-of-these-4-common-mistakes-is-giving-you-dry-skin

Saraswat, K. (2013). Health India, “10 causes of dry skin you didn’t know about”. Retrieved January 8, 2014, from: http://health.india.com/beauty/10-causes-of-dry-skin-you-didnt-know-about/

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