You will recognise having dry skin if you have one or more of the following issues:
- Tightness, especially after cleansing
(Note: These symptoms are not unique to dry skin, and could have other causes which are not related to dryness.)
Skin dryness can originate from inside the body, due to an imbalance or genetics, or due to external environmental factors. If you cannot identify any environmental factors, such as using air conditioning or showering too warmly, it could be a good idea to consult a doctor or dermatologist. While drinking enough water is essential for maintaining overall health, diet is much more linked to your skin’s ability to retain water - especially a diet rich in fatty acids.
Skin needs a certain amount of water content in order to provide a strong barrier against the environment, and to give a youthful appearance. A lack of water content inside the skin is at the root of the dryness problem - or more specifically your skin’s ability to hold on to water via water-binding agents, also called humectants. In addition the skin also needs oil to provide a barrier to the water, reducing evaporation and keeping the water inside the skin. Skin naturally produces an oil called sebum. Under normal conditions, when skin is in a healthy balanced state, your skin contains all the water that it needs as well as the correct amount of sebum to protect your skin’s water against evaporation. When there is an imbalance in either water or sebum, then your skin will tend to become dry.
Dry skin will therefore generally fall into one or both of these categories:
- Skin is lacking in water content, or water-binding agents, but has enough oils
- Skin is lacking in oils which results in too much water evaporating
It depends on which is the core of the issue - the lack of water alone or the lack of oil which allows water evaporation - or even both at the same time.
Generally most moisturisers on the market will help with dry skin - they provide a bit of water to the skin and contain an oily or waxy substance (an occlusive) to hold it in. But caring for dry skin can start with one step before - washing. If the product used for washing, either for the body or the face, strips too many oils away, this can be the cause of dry skin, or make it worse. The first step to ensuring that your skin is best supported will be to use a product that is not too stripping, does not contain irritants, and that even helps promote the water content of your skin.
Natural soap is perfect for this! It cleans while supporting the water content inside your skin, and provides nourishing oils too.
The glycerine content, which is a natural by-product created in the soap-making reaction, is incredibly moisturising. It is a humectant, which attracts water from its surroundings and keeps hold of it. It is also small enough to be absorbed into the skin layers, binding water inside your skin. You can read more about glycerine in our article here. Unfortunately in industrial soaps, the majority of the glycerine has been extracted, to be sold in other products. Be sure to use natural soaps, where the glycerine has not been extracted.
Natural soap is made by combining oils or fats with lye. We use plant oils at the Clean Up Atelier so that our soaps remain vegan. A superfat is when a little more oil is added than what the lye can convert into soap and glycerine. So when the soap bar hardens, it contains the soap and glycerine from the soap-making reaction, but also still contains some unconverted oils, which are dispersed into the soap and are not visible. These unconverted oils are not greasy or oily on your skin - they are deposited onto your skin while cleaning, and support your skin’s natural oil barrier.
So while you are cleaning your skin using natural soap, glycerine is entering your skin’s layers and holding water there, old oils and dirt are being cleaned away by the soap, and new oils are being deposited which work in balance with your skin and help reduce water evaporation. And this is while being free of synthetic detergents, synthetic colorants, synthetic fragrance, microplastics, and anything else which could be an irritant or not biodegradable.
So as a great step in combating dry skin be sure to use natural soap as part of your cleaning routine - your body, and the environment, will thank you!
Our Shea Butter Natural Soap is especially great for dry skin and a weakened skin barrier - it is an especially effective emollient which keeps water in the skin from evaporating. It also has calming and anti-oxidant properties, which helps to restore your skin to a healthy state.
Some other factors that you can investigate if you have dry skin:
- Thyroid issues
- Kidney or liver issues
- Dry air
- Very hot or cold weather
- Harsh detergents such as SLS
- Showering or bathing too long or too hot
This is not an exhaustive list - if your dry skin issues persist, please consult a doctor or dermatologist. Dry skin, if not treated, could become worse and develop into eczema and be susceptible to infections.