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Causes of Dry Skin

15 March 2023

As we age, our skin naturally becomes more dry and rough. Ageing is one of the most common causes of dry skin. This is due to decreased cell renewal, decreased natural moisturizing factor in our cells caused by the natural decline of hormones, and the accumulative effect of sun damage.

Dry skin on the face is often associated with conditions such as sensitivity or irritation, pimple marks taking a long time to heal, pigments and wrinkles, and sagging or open pores. The good news is that when the underlying dry skin is corrected, these associated conditions also improve simultaneously.

In our quest for youth, the secret then is to keep on staying hydrated. We do this by using good quality skincare that nourishes the skin externally and by choosing lifestyle choices that nourish the skin internally. By making choices to help us look and feel our best, our skin will gradually start to look more youthful and vibrant from the inside out.

1. Product-related

Products containing common irritants (e.g., fragrances, sodium lauryl sulphate, alcohol), prescription creams (e.g., retinoic acid, AHA, BHA), or strong exfoliation products (e.g., coarse scrubs or electronic cleansing brushes) may irritate and cause dry skin. 

Tip: Use mild and gentle products that moisturise and strengthen the skin barrier instead.

2. Diet-related

Drinking too much alcohol and caffeine (coffee & caffeinated tea) – has a diuretic effect on the body and dehydrates our cells. Not eating enough good fats to feed the cell membranes and hormones. Not drinking enough water, esp on long-haul flights.

Tip: Be sure to stay well-hydrated – drink at least 2L of water daily, reduce alcohol and caffeine, and eat enough good fats daily.


3. Emotions-related.

Too much stress and anxiety often lead to inadequate rest. Higher less of cortisol in the blood increase inflammation in the skin leading to dryness, irritation, and eczema.

Tip: When stress levels increase, remember to increase sleep time and sleep earlier, if possible. This simple action will help us to better manage stress and negative emotions in our lives.

4. Environment-related.

Frequent flying (esp long haul flights), sleeping in an air-con room, exposure to polluted air (from smoking or breathing in fumes from renovations), and exposure to harsh climates (cold, windy weather) all contribute to dryness.

Tip: Be sure to arm yourself with hydrating skincare products that protect the skin barrier when exposed to these environments.

5. Poor sleep.

Poor sleep is a huge cause of dry skin. Worse still, it ages us twice as fast. Poor sleep is associated with reduced skin barrier function, which can cause dry skin, sensitivity, and irritation. When we don’t sleep well, feel tired, and are moody, we gain weight and look twice as old. We also set ourselves at higher risks of chronic illnesses like heart disease and cancer.

Tip: Prioritise and protect your sleep time. Have sleep rituals to relax your mind before sleeping e.g., going for a walk, listening to music, and journaling. 


Note: If you have chronic insomnia, seeking medical attention from your family physician or sleep specialist is essential.




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