Dry skin? You might be using the wrong stuff

Winter, age, and what hygiene products you use factor in

  • Strong soaps contain harmful ingredients
  • ‘Natural’ products can still be harmful
  • Lotions aren’t as ideal as other moisture products

Due to the cold, low humidity, and furnaces blasting dry/hot air, winter can be a tough time for your skin. According to a local dermatologist, your everyday hygiene products may be making the problem worse.

“The first thing is to either avoid soap or use a very gentle soap,” Dr. Carmel Anderson at Kelowna Dermatology told Kelowna10.

“[Soap] has a number of things in it. One of which is an emulsifier which can tear away our natural oils.”

She added other ingredients like strong fragrances, drying agents, and preservatives can further dehydrate your skin. Some patients who visit Kelowna Dermatology can’t use soap at all in the winter months.

When shopping at the store, she recommends looking for terms like ‘sensitive skin’, ‘hypoallergenic’, and ‘fragrance free’ on the labels.

As Anderson explained, many of the most popular products are not the most beneficial.

“I don’t want to trash any brand, but certain brands are very hard on skin. They’re highly advertised, and people buy them, and they smell delightful. And those can be the hardest on your skin,” she said.

She also warned the many people who see the word ‘natural’ on a label and instantly trust the product. While it may fit the criteria for a natural product, that doesn’t prevent it from being harsh on the epidermis.

Ultimately, Anderson said individuals need to experiment to discover which products are best for their body, given how different we all are.

On top of seasonal conditions like humidity, Anderson said aging can contribute to dry skin, especially in the extremities where circulation is furthest from the heart.

Fresh blood supplies sebaceous (oil) glands and skin cells with nutrients, healing, and energy. As we age circulation is less efficient and our oil glands get worn from years of use.

Instead of lotions which Anderson said are mostly water, she steers her clients towards moisturizers, creams, balms, and ointments if their skin is dry. Lotion is most ideal for normal skin types.

Many of Anderson’s clients are surprised to learn which moisture product she uses for herself.

“Vaseline petroleum jelly was one of the first moisturizers that was shown to increase the water content of the skin,” she explained.

“I use it on my hands maybe 20 times a day … a very tiny layer. It helps just preserve the shield barrier function of your skin.”

Published 2022-01-17 by David Hanson

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