Health & Beauty Weekly: Moisturize this fall, prevent dry skin

Countless products from numerous companies are available to consumers to help with dry skin during the fall season. Although many include popular name brands, there are also simple, natural solutions.

Dry skin can be common in the fall, and some may struggle more than others, especially those with skin conditions.

"I have had dry skin for the last four years," says Santa Monica College student Anna Jones. "I've tried every moisturizer and cleanser possible, but nothing seems to work."

Some may think dry skin is a problem that can be cured by using a thicker moisturizer or a gentler cleanser, but that is not always the case.

Susan James, cosmetology professor at SMC, says that a common misconception is that using creamier lotions on the skin will hydrate it. However, dry skin can also be a problem within the body. Lack of nutrients, water and oils can be a contributing factor.

"When there are fine lines, this is a lack of water, and when there are flakes, this is a lack of oil," says James.

Normal skin has a pH a measure of acidity or basicity of 5, while slightly dry skin has a pH of 4.5, which is slightly more acidic, James says. With very dry skin, the pH level can fall even below 4.

"The sweat gland that is attached to the hair follicle provides moisture, and this combination, oil and sweat, creates the skin’s acid mantle," she says.

Mayo Clinic's website recommends eating a healthy diet rich in vitamin C, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins, and avoiding unhealthy fats and processed or refined carbohydrates. Proper nutrition may promote younger-looking skin, as some research suggests.

“There is a lack of research showing that drinking water has any impact on skin hydration or appearance,” Mayo Clinic’s dermatologist Lawrence E. Gibson states on the site.

The skin is made up of three layers including the epidermis, or outer layer, the dermis, or underlying skin, and the subcutaneous fat tissue. If the outermost layer of the epidermis does not contain enough water, then skin will loose elasticity and feel rough, Gibson says.

Gibson recommends avoiding contact with hot or chlorinated water and using skincare products containing alcohol. He also recommends moisturizing right after bathing or showering and as needed throughout the day.

Drugstore products, such as Eucerin and Cetaphil, are popular with people who have dry skin. They are both lightweight and contain ingredients that help soothe the skin of those who suffer from both dry skin and eczema, or skin with itching and redness. Cetaphil also has a line specific for eczema that consists of body washes and lotions.

"The molecular structure of the moisturizing product also needs to be evaluated," says James. "It needs to be lightweight because the pores on dry skin are very small."

James also says that since dry skin needs both moisture and oil, the base emulsion needs to be a water-in-oil emulsion, and the type of oil is essential.

"Grape seed oils are excellent for mature skin, while a liquid shea butter or other light vegetable oils [work] for younger types," she says.

There are natural alternatives that may be just as effective to combat dry skin. Sibu is a facial and body-care line that is made from sea buckthorn oil. Acure is a facial-care line made from argan oil, which has several other organic oils that help soothe and protect the skin. Shea Moisture is a line of products, from shampoos to body lotions, consisting of moisturizing oils including shea butter.

"Mineral oils that are light are acceptable for clients with allergies because it usually doesn’t cause itchy skin," James says. "When a product causes the skin to itch or burn, it is usually because of an allergy to an ingredient, so be careful of nut-based oils and other known allergens."

Mayo Clinic offers some tips to keep skin looking and feeling healthy. Hot water and long showers strip the natural oils from the skin, so limit bath time and use warm water. Also, read labeling on soaps and body washes because stronger soaps also remove the necessary oils from the skin.

For both men and women, shaving after adding gel, lotion or shaving cream to the designated area helps protect it, as well as shaving in the direction that the hair grows. Lastly, do not rub the skin, but pat or blot dry.

Lauren NarvaezComment