Winter can be a magical time for the environment! But let’s be real, it can be downright horrible for certain skin types. With the drier air and temperature drops, winter can herald the dreaded dry skin! But it isn’t only the changing of season that causes flakiness. Long baths/hot showers, harsh soaps/detergents, genetics and predisposed skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis can also be a culprit. Whatever the causes may be, dry skin is not a welcome guest in your life. So, we have compiled a list of terms and their ingredients to get you back on track to hydrated and healthy skin!
Emollients provide hydration and softening, as well as help repair cracks in the skin barrier preventing water loss. If you think of the lipids in your skin as tiles, the emollient is the grout that fills in the cracks and smooths everything over. Because of this, emollients are also great for their anti-aging qualities and skin repairing ability. So if you struggle with age/sun spots, acne scars, or just want to keep your skin looking youthful and vibrant, add some emollients into your skin care routine. So how can you recognize emollients at the store? Common ones are cocoa/shea/jojoba butter, aloe vera, squalene, colloidal oatmeal, beeswax, and non-fragrant plant oils, such as coconut, jojoba, borage, argan and even primrose oil.
Humectants are fantastic since they are moisturizing agents that draw moisture into your skin from the surrounding environment and your deepest skin layers. That’s right, it’s a moisturizer that attracts moisture. Talk about like attracting like! You won’t find humectant on a product label, so what types of humectants should you look for when purchasing products? Look out for hyaluronic acid which is an ingredient celebrated for its ability to retain 1,000 times its weight in water and considered one of the most hydrating ingredients to put on your skin. Another humectant to look out for is glycerin, which is a powerhouse moisturizer and works best when it is coupled with other emollient ingredients. Even though there are synthetic glycerin sources, many natural ones are available, such as vegetable glycerin.
Occlusives are a great final step to your dry skin repair routine as they serve as a physical barrier to help prevent water loss from the skin’s surface, while protecting the skin from external irritants. Common occlusive agents include vegetable waxes (carnauba and candelilla), plant oils and butters high in oleic acid (olive and soybean), lecithin, and cocoa butter which are all usually found in moisturizers. This sealant often has a thick and heavy consistency when used topically, making them an ideal pick for very dry skin. Some of these occlusives also have humectant and emollient properties as well which gives you a great chance to mix ingredients into a great moisturizer that works for you.
Ceramides are fatty acids called lipids and are naturally found in skin cells, which make up 50% of the outer layer of skin (epidermis). Topical ceramides end up mimicking the natural oils in your skin, making them super effective when combined with other moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin. There are multiple types of ceramides on the market, but the ones you want to look out for on your product label have ceramides I, 3 or 6-II.
You might think fixing dry skin is an easy fix, but in reality it involves a little bit of trial and error. Don’t be discouraged if a few of your trials with these ingredients don’t work. Everyone’s skin reacts differently to these ingredients, especially if you’re acne prone. Don’t worry! Move on to the next one and see which ingredients work best for your particular dry skin type. With the right mixture of humectants, emollients, occlusives, and ceramides your routine will fix your skin’s dehydration and get you back to healthy skin in no time. Just remember to also stay hydrated by drinking tons of water!