WHAT IS DRY SKIN?
In most cases, the skin lacks not only fat but also moisture. In particular, moisture-binding substances, which are mainly found in the hydrolipid film, play an essential role. It’s necessary to differentiate between dry and dehydrated skin.
Often used synonymously, dry skin, or xerosis (the medical term), is usually caused by a lack of sebum secreted by your sebaceous glands, while dehydrated skin is caused by the lack of moisture. Sebostasis is the term used to describe the reduced activity of the sebaceous glands, and is typically the trigger for dry and cracked skin conditions.
SOME TYPICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF DRY SKIN
SOME TYPICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF DRY SKIN
NOT ONLY THE FACE
Dry skin can affect any part of your body. Beyond the face, it commonly affects hands, arms, feet, elbows, keens, and legs.
Chapping with a tendency to form rhagades (cracks)
Your skin feels constantly "thirsty"; feelings of tension, itching, flaky skin, redness, a thinner epidermis (the skin’s outer layer), and “parchment skin” all indicate that your skin type might be of the dry variety.
Maintaining a skincare regime that includes moisturizing + hydrating, regular cleansing, and protective skincare treatments is important to nourish the skin with good fats and moisture-binding substances.
TYPES OF DRY SKIN
This occurs when the skin comes into contact with something which causes an irritant or allergic reaction. Chemicals found in paint, soaps, cosmetics, detergents medications, or metals in jewelry, are common trigger factors. Skin may become dry, itchy and red, sometimes even resulting in a skin rash.
ECZEMA (ATOPIC DERMATITIS)
The most common type of eczema is found in children and adults. It appears as red, dry, “silver” scaly patches of skin that can also be itchy in different areas of your body. Severe forms can cause the skin to crack, which makes the body more prone to things like bacterial infections. This common skin condition often affects children and can be inherited. Irritants, allergens, and stress can make eczema worse.
Dry skin on the scalp causes a condition known as dandruff in adults or cradle cap in infants. Seborrheic dermatitis can also cause dry, flaky skin patches on the face, navel (belly button), and inside creases of the arms, legs, or groin. This type of dermatitis is actually caused by an immune reaction to the overgrowth of Malassezia yeast (a normal yeast that grows on your skin).
A chronic skin condition that results in itchy patches of dry skin that is sensitive to touch. Unlike atopic dermatitis, which can be widespread, neurodermatitis is usually confined to one or two patches of skin. It is most common on the feet, ankles, hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck and scalp. The eyelids can also be affected, as can genital and anal areas. Common triggers for neurodermatitis include stress, anxiety, and anything that irritates your skin.
There isn't really a consensus about the exact cause of psoriasis, but it's thought to be an immune-mediated condition where infection-fighting cells attack healthy skin cells by mistake. This response generally shows up as a rash with itchy, scaly patches due to systemic inflammation, most commonly on the knees, elbows, trunk, and scalp.
CAUSES OF DRY SKIN
In most cases, the skin lacks not only fat, but also moisture.
Moisture-binding substances, which are mainly found in the hydrolipid film, play an essential role. Skin moisture depends on the supply of water in the deeper skin layers and on perspiration (more on that in a sec).
Dry skin is caused by a lack of:
Natural moisturizing factors (NMFs): Especially urea, amino acids and lactic acid – that help to bind in water (humectants).
Epidermal lipids such as ceramides, fatty acids and cholesterol which are needed for a healthy skin barrier function (occlusives).
Skin is constantly losing water through:
Perspiration: active water loss from the glands caused by heat, stress and activity.
Trans-Epidermal Water Loss (TEWL): the natural, passive way in which skin diffuses about half a litre of water a day from the deeper skin layers.
THE WILD LEAVES SKINCARE ROUTINE
4 STEPS OR LESS
Our face wash, algae serum, face oil, and rich cream skincare routine is great for moisturizing and hydrating, supporting well-aging, and protection against the elements.
HARSH SOAPS & CLEANSERS
Choose your soaps and face washes carefully after checking the ingredients. Skin cleansing products that contain harsh sulfates,
parabens, artificial colors, and other synthetic ingredients irritate your skin and strip the skin of its natural moisturizers.
WEATHER & THE ELEMENTS
Skin tends to be driest in winter, when temperatures and humidity levels drop, causing your skin to become irritated and sometimes even rough and flaky. Cold, dry winters rob your skin of oils that keep it soft and supple otherwise. To maintain optimal body temperature in winter, your subcutaneous blood flow is restricted, causing a dip in sebum secretion that further dries out your skin. People who live in dry climates, work outside, or are often exposed to the elements are also more prone to dry skin problems as the lack of humidity in the air causes excessive moisture loss.
Internal factors, such as hormonal balance, are not to be overlooked when it comes to your skin. Imbalances in the three main hormones that can affect your skin are the thyroid hormone, cortisol (stress hormone), estrogen, and progesterone hormones. Some people are also more prone to dry skin as they age due to moisture-producing oil and sweat glands drying up, thinning skin; substances that give skin its elasticity, like fat and collagen, also decrease over time.
SKIN BARRIER IMPAIRMENT
The outer layer of your skin, known as the epidermal barrier, protects your skin from various external influences. Weakening of this barrier will disable your skin’s ability to retain moisture. An overly-burdened epidermal barrier can also cause excessive trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL) from the surface of your skin leading to dryness.
Certain skin conditions have dry skin as one of their primary symptoms. If you are experiencing an acute case of dry skin, it is better to consult a doctor or a naturopath specializing in this field to help you find the best solution.
HEAT & SUN
It’s no secret that UV radiation can damage your skin when it's overexposed, but so can heat exposure. Heat can dry out the skin, stripping it of its moisture storage – this applies to heaters in the winter, too! Central heating, wood-burning stoves, space heaters, and fireplaces all reduce humidity and dry out your skin. Apart from causing excessive moisture loss, UV rays are also known to cause direct DNA cell damage, which in turn increase dryness and the formation of dead skin cells.
HOT BATHS & SHOWERS
Contrary to what logic and intuition might tell us about water providing natural hydration for our skin, it is actually just the opposite. Did you ever notice how your skin feels tight after showering or swimming? Taking long, hot showers or baths can dry your skin, and so can frequent swimming, particularly in heavily chlorinated pools. There’s a window of time after a warm shower or bath where the pores are open, and this is a great time to apply hydration to your face, especially if you suffer from dry skin.
When your body is deprived of the right nutrition, it takes a direct toll on your skin. A body deficient in Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Vitamin B and Zinc is likely to show dry skin symptoms. Substances like coffee can also hit the adrenals hard, put your organs in overdrive, and is not conducive to your digestive system absorbing the nutrients that you do eat. Have you already swapped your coffee for our Adaptogen Chai? It’s a good way to help your body soak in those beneficial nutrients your body’s ingesting while going easy on the adrenals.
This is an unpopular one, but lifestyle makes a huge difference. 90% of the way your skin ages is up to you! When the skin’s barrier function becomes compromised or your lifestyle is taking a toll on your body, the appearance of your skin will often be the first to tell you. For example, a lack of sleep is immediately visible on your face. Good daily habits that can benefit your skin include our 4-step skincare routine, drinking adaptogen mushrooms as part of your daily ritual, getting lots of water, intermittent fasting, fresh unprocessed foods, enough sleep, and plenty of movement. And of course, going out in nature.
WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?
1. HYDRATE FROM THE INSIDE
Hydration is an essential part of the skin’s natural function. Your skin draws the water it drinks from the subcutaneous tissue (the deepest layer of your skin) to the epidermis (skin’s outer layer).
This natural process can only be effective when the skin is sufficiently hydrated. Staying hydrated by drinking lots of water while cutting out moisture-sucks like coffee helps!
2. MOISTURISE FROM THE OUTSIDE
Having the right skincare ritual for your skin and sticking to it will help replenish the cells and any moisture deficiencies. To restore the skin’s hydration and moisture levels, you can apply moisture-binding substances to the skin, including serums, oils, creams or butters (occlusive elements) as often as your skin needs.
Even if it’s more than twice per day, that’s totally OK! You will most definitely notice when your skin needs an extra dose of moisture. For example, when your skin feels tight or slightly irritated, little wrinkles start to become more noticeable around your eyes and mouth, or your skin starts to take on an “ashy” feel.
3. ADD SOME FATS
We can add lipids to the skin to reduce water loss – the skin can’t differentiate plant oils from its own fats and incorporates them as if they were the body’s own.
4. OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
As essential nutrients, they can serve to regulate the skin’s oil production, improve balanced hydration, minimize breakouts and reduce signs of aging. Omega-3 can also help soften rough, dry skin and have a soothing effect on skin irritations.
5. ENVIROMENTAL FACTORS
External factors have a major impact on skin health. Make sure that stress factors like poor air quality and hard water are in check. It’s important to keep the skin’s protective barrier layer intact and moisture-binding substances replenished. Daily stresses should also be minimized (surprise!).
6. PROTECTION FROM THE ELEMENTS
Spending time outdoors is one of the most nourishing things we can do, but as much as we love the elements, the skin might not benefit as much under harsh conditions like excessive exposure to sun (UV), heat, and water. Keep a natural sunscreen – as well as face cream or oil – in your bag and apply it if your skin easily burns.