You may be very familiar with the common signs of aging on your face, from lines and wrinkles to dark spots and uneven skin tone. Sagging or loose skin is another sign of aging. But, what about dry skin? While dry skin can happen to anyone, at any age, you might fight it becoming worse as you get older, and particularly worse during the colder, drier months of the year.
Dry skin can amplify any wrinkles you do have, making them more visible. It can also feel unpleasant, creating a feeling of tightness or causing some irritation.
While how dry or oily your skin is somewhat determined by your genes, there are a few outside factors that can make matters worse or that can help improve the situation. Don’t let the cold, harsh winter weather leave you wishing you just stay indoors or hide your skin. A few small adjustments can help you deal with dryness.
When you have dry skin, it’s not just what you put on your face that makes a difference, it’s how you actually go about washing your face, too. Steer clear of anything harsh and abrasive, such as rough sponges, loofahs and brushes. Use a soft cloth to gently wash your skin, instead. Ideal fabrics include cotton and bamboo.
Keep the temperature of the water moderate, too. Hot water will quickly strip away any sebum or oil your skin does have, leaving you with dullness and dryness. Go for a gentle facial cleanser, not one with a lot of harsh ingredients, such as detergents, alcohol or soap.
Get More Fat in Your Diet
Fat isn’t a bad word, especially when you have dry skin. Some fats, particularly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, are particularly helpful for people with dry skin. Essential fatty acids also play a part in your skin’s health, helping to hydrate dry skin and helping to reduce the severity of some skin conditions, such as acne. People who don’t get enough essential fatty acids in their diet are more likely to have severely dry skin.
Essential fatty acids are only available from the foods you eat, your body can’t produce them on its own. Examples of EFAs include omega 3s and omega 6s. Along with making sure you get these fats in your diet, you want to make sure you get a fair balance of them. Too much omega 6 and not enough omega 3 doesn’t help your skin. Salmon, walnuts and flax seeds are among the best dietary sources of omega 3s, while many types of cooking oils contain omega 6s.
If you’ve been limiting fat or trying to skip it altogether, it’s probably time to add it back to your diet. While not all fats are created equally, mono and polyunsaturated fats are definitely worth a look. Good sources of such fats include olive oil, almonds and other nuts, and avocados.
Hydrate Your Skin
You can hydrate your skin from the inside out by increasing the amount of fat you consume (within reason) and by increasing the liquid you drink. Another way to add hydration is by applying a moisturizer to your skin that contains ingredients that attract water and ingredients that lock the hydration in.
Hyaluronic acid is an example of an ingredient that attracts water, also known as a humectant. Although you might associate it with certain types of dermal fillers, hyaluronic acid is also commonly used in moisturizers and lotions designed for dry skin. Other humectants you might see in lotions include sorbitol and lecithin.
Once that moisture is on your skin, you want an ingredient that will keep it in place. That’s where emollients come in. Common examples of emollients include dimethicone and petrolatum.
While you do want to treat dry skin gently, you don’t want to completely avoid exfoliating it. Without exfoliation, dead cells can build up on the surface of the skin, making it look duller and adding years to your appearance. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to work with a specialist who focuses on the aging of the face when choosing the best method of exfoliating dry skin. It might be that a light chemical peel is the option that gives you fresh, glowing skin with the least amount of irritation. A non-ablative laser treatment, such as Fraxel, might also be a good option for exfoliation.
In Virginia and Maryland, near Washington, D.C., Dr. Jessica Kulak helps many patients cope with their aging skin issues. A board certified facial plastic surgeon, Dr. Kulak focuses exclusively on rejuvenation of the face through minimally invasive and surgical treatments. If your dry skin is leaving you with a dull complexion, making you look old beyond your years, or causing you discomfort, schedule a consultation with Dr. Kulak today. Call 301-222-2020 for the Maryland office or 703-481-0002 for the practice in Virginia.