Every year, summer’s long-awaited arrival is often bittersweet. On one hand, it’s lovely to spend long evenings relaxing in the garden, watching the sunset. On the other, summer can bring irritating health issues such as hayfever and skin complaints.
Perhaps the most prevalent of them all is dry skin. Yes, it’s not only us feeling parched this summer—our skin is too.
Unfortunately, despite summer representing—for most of us—a fun and carefree time of year, many people dread it due to the heat and high humidity which can lead to dry skin.
There are plenty of reasons to care for your dry skin: your health, your appearance, and your sanity. In this post, we offer some advice and tips on how to avoid and treat dry skin this season.
So, if you are looking for some solutions to your summer skincare issues, read on…
Source: Live Once Live Wild
Causes of Dry Skin
To treat it properly—indeed, to avoid getting it in the first place—it is important to understand what causes dry skin.
For the vast majority of us, dry skin—or xerosis, as it’s known medically, is not a sign of a skin condition or disease. Rather, it points to excessive use of harsh soaps, misusing moisturiser or taking long, hot showers.
Scroll down to understand how and why these problems can dry out your skin.
Understanding Dry Skin
Normal, healthy skin is coated in a natural layer of oils, or fatty substances, known as lipids. These substances keep in moisture, leaving the skin soft and supple.
The cause of dry skin is often associated with the stripping away of these fatty oils. Without them, skin is prone to cracking, itching and flaking. This is especially true in the summer months. It is usually something external in the environment (or something you are doing to your skin) that causes this issue.
Less commonly, the cause is internal, meaning a health condition, menopause or genetic predisposition is making your skin dry out.
Patches of dry skin can appear anywhere. But they are more frequently seen around the arms, hands, lower legs and abdomen. Dry skin is not usually noticeable and is more felt than seen. However, for some people it can be an embarrassing eyesore.
For a small minority of people, extremely dry skin can be a warning sign of a skin condition called dermatitis. If untreated, dermatitis—inflammation of the skin—produces nasty symptoms such as swelling and infection.
But thankfully, on the whole, dry skin can be easily remedied. With careful dry skin care, you can normally solve the problem. Just follow these simple tips for dry skin and you can't go wrong.
Use Soap Right
When it comes to dry skin, using the correct soaps is vital because certain products dry out your skin, leaving it flaky and irritable.
Opt for gentle soaps with natural ingredients such as shea butter. Among others, the natural benefits of shea butter include its concentration of vitamins and fatty acids which make it naturally moisturising for the skin.
Don’t—as most of us tend to—use too much soap. It can quickly strip away those natural fatty oils, leaving the skin deprived of precious moisture.
Only use soap or cleanser on the face, hands, feet, groin and underarms. The rest of the body can usually be rinsed off with just water.
Ironically, whilst attempting to rid ourselves of germs, excessive hand washing can lead to dry skin, causing it to crack and bleed and increasing the risk of infection. In fact, excessive washing in general depletes the natural oils in the skin which causes dryness.
If your skin is really dry in summer, use aqueous cream as well soap for added moisture.
If you have suffered from dry or itchy skin, the chances are you have used a moisturiser (or several) to try to counteract the problem.
The issue is: many people are either using the wrong sort of moisturiser for their skin type, or they are misusing the moisturiser altogether.
One mistake people commonly make is applying moisturiser to skin that is already dry. You should put the moisturiser on when your skin is still damp. That way, it works to retain the moisture that is already present. Your skin doesn’t need to be dripping wet, though. After showering, dab the affected area with a towel and then moisturise. Let it soak in for a minute or two and then wipe off any excess.
Also, ensure you are using the right kind of moisturiser. There’s no point using one that won’t work or that could even end up making the problem worse. Skincare expert, Dr. Cynthia Bailey, recommends using ‘products that are not mostly water but instead contain mostly water-binding and trapping ingredients’. Budget moisturisers with no perfumes or alcohol will often do the job better than more expensive alternatives.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Protect Your Skin
Sunscreen is always a must in summer. It is advisable to throw away last year's supply and get a new bottle. Sun cream isn't designed to last forever and over time it becomes less effective.
Opt for a product that has UVA and UVB protection of at least SPF 30. Use a shot glass full for your body and a full teaspoon for your face. Reapply every few hours and after getting wet or perspiring.
To avoid dry skin after prolonged exposure to the sun, apply after-sun lotion with natural ingredients such as aloe vera. This will help with any sunburn and enrich your skin with antioxidants, even helping to reduce and prevent wrinkles.
Be Wary of Long, Hot Showers and Baths
If you suffer from dry skin, try to reduce the time you spend in hot, steamy showers or baths. It may seem counterintuitive, but prolonged bathing in hot water can lead to dry skin. This is because the hot water washes away the vital oils that coat the skin’s surface, locking in much-needed moisture.
So, what’s the solution? First, go for showers over baths. But experts also recommend limiting shower time to a few minutes and forgoing the hot water.
Now, that doesn't mean the water has to be cold, just not piping hot. Also, try to angle the shower head away from you whilst you lather up. This reduces time spent being pummeled by water.
Try to use moisturising shower gels, too, as they won't irritate your skin as much.
Finally, when drying off, take it easy with the towel. Rather than vigorously rubbing yourself dry, pat yourself gently and apply a thick, greasy moisturiser straight away.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Tips for Very Dry Skin
If you are experiencing very dry skin this summer, you may want to consult your doctor who can refer you to a dermatologist. In the meantime, try using aqueous cream as well as moisturiser to give your skin added moisture.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, ‘Ointments and creams are more effective and less irritating than lotions. Look for a cream or ointment that contains an oil such as olive oil or jojoba oil. Shea butter also works well.’
How to Treat Dry Skin on Face
Dry skin on the face can be unsightly and cause self esteem issues. The best way to treat it is to limit shower time and moisturise directly afterwards. Water likes to move from high concentrations to low. Therefore, in terms of dryness, your skin is at its most vulnerable right after showering.
Another tip is to wear a lip balm that feels good on your lips. Some lip balms can irritate the skin. If you feel a slight burning or tingling when you apply yours, consider switching.
Source: Stock Snap
If you are still concerned about dry skin this summer, head over to the NHS website for more tips and advice on how to care for your skin.