Eat your avocado, use your moisturizer, get skin treatments —all these popular to-dos have a common purpose, which is to hydrate your skin. Beauty and skincare companies have invested gazillions of dollars in getting the message out there: Hydration is essential. Articles abound about the best ways on how to treat dry and flaky skin through dozens of moisture-replenishing products. Ads endlessly promote magic ingredients that can supposedly repair damaged skin.
Yet, despite all the fuss, don’t you sometimes wonder if everything is just hype, that it simply amounts to a marketing ploy to extract your hard-earned dollars? Read on to find out all about the importance of hydrating your skin and wonder no more.
Why You Need to Hydrate Your Skin
Before we go any further, let’s first get to the bottom of the matter at hand.
Dry skin happens when it can’t keep the level of moisture that it requires. This is caused by several intrinsic and extrinsic factors.
You may be inherently predisposed by genetics to have generally dry skin, or you may have underlying medical conditions that disable your skin cells from producing the necessary oils. Examples of these conditions are kidney diseases, anorexia, and high blood sugar levels.
Your skin may also be exposed to environmental elements that strip it of its natural oils, such as harsh weather conditions, drying chemicals from skincare and household products, and constant exposure to heat sources, such as central heating and even dry saunas.
The Consequences of Dry Skin
One or a combination of these factors can adversely affect your skin layers. Itching and cracking can happen and lead to bleeding in the worst cases. All these can weaken the skin that’s supposed to be your body’s first line of defense against harmful external substances. This makes you vulnerable to being infected by a variety of diseases.
In addition, with no barrier to keep the moisture in your skin, evaporation happens, and your skin may end up looking like a shriveled and discolored leaf. But have no fear—fail-safe help is here.
Top Tips to Replenish Moisture
Did you know that, despite the general advice of drinking water to prevent skin dryness, there are actually no conclusive studies proving that downing plenty of fluids has any impact on how your skin looks and feels? We do not recommend that you stop drinking water since consuming the right amounts can keep your body systems healthy and functioning well. However, you’ll need to go “skin-deep” to ensure that you are hydrating your skin properly.
Determine the level of moisturization you need
Before dipping your fingers into that jar of facial cream, it’s best to know what your skin type is and determine the level of moisturization that your skin actually craves for. There is a specific moisturizing product for each skin type.
#1. Dry Skin
So owing to your bloodline, you tend to have dry skin. Don’t worry, though, because this condition is widespread. However, you do need to think about what moisturizer to use. You would want a rich, thick product such as an ointment that can lock in the water molecules and keep them from escaping. Look for occlusive ingredients like lanolin, silicone, and petroleum jelly, which can seal the moisture within the skin.
#2. Oily Skin
You read that right. Oily skin also needs hydrating. Studies show that using the right kind of moisturizer can even help make acne-prone skin treatments more effective, especially if they contain anti-inflammatory ingredients such as aloe vera and witch hazel. For your skin type, choose water-based products, such as humectant mists. Humectants, such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and lecithin, primarily work by attracting moisture. You can also use lotions that are lightweight and are non-comedogenic.
#3. Normal Skin
Normal skin is essentially skin that can take many things without overreacting. So, you may have a combination of dry and oily conditions, but your skin is generally healthy and well-hydrated. In this case, emollients, which combine oils and water to hydrate and soften the skin, may work best for you.
Don’t take long, hot showers
We get it. Taking long, hot showers is an enjoyable and relaxing activity. At the end of an exhausting day, all that heat can make you feel as if you’re doing your body a great favor.
Unfortunately, your skin cells may not agree with you, especially if you already have skin conditions, to begin with. Scorching showers can overstrip your skin of that protective waxy substance called sebum, exposing you to potential infections from external bacteria and other microorganisms.
The high heat can also kill off keratinocytes. These are the principal cells of your dermis, which is the thicker and deeper skin layer supported by collagen and elastin fibers. Damage to your keratinocytes can impair the ability of your cells to heal wounds. In worst-case scenarios, this can even be life-threatening.
You can still take showers but keep it brief (about 5 to 10 minutes) and the temperature moderate, somewhere between 98℉ and 105℉.
Gentleness is key
Keep your skin from dryness with these oh-so-gentle reminders.
#1. Soap: To Use or Not To Use
Soaps and their harsh ingredients can wash off your skin’s natural oils. Stay clear of anything with strong perfumes and are laden with alcohol. Instead, use a mild facial cleanser that can have the added benefit of moisturizing your skin.
#2. Mind Your Moisturizing Don’ts
Don’t scratch, don’t rub. These seem pretty basic advice but are often disregarded.
It can be so pleasurable to scratch itchy skin, yet, every time you do, you break the protective barrier of your skin, which can lead to wounds, infections, and scarring.
On the other hand, prolonged rubbing of your skin can cause the keratinocytes we mentioned earlier to shrink and wrinkle in the direction of the rubbing. Patting, rather than rubbing, can minimize the unnecessary pulling and stretching, which can cause skin damage.
Hydrating your skin is not just ideal for a glowing and youthful complexion but is also necessary for overall health. Pampering your skin with much-needed moisture, by using the right skincare products and keeping your skincare dos and don’ts, is worth the time and effort you invest in it. You aren’t just taking care of your skin, but, in all likelihood, you may actually be helping to preserve your very life.
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