How do I care for dry skin?

How do I care for dry skin?

Written by Dr. Joshua Townley, BForensSc, PhD.


What causes dry and itchy skin?

Dry skin and itchy skin often go hand in hand, and they’re more common than you might think. Nearly a third of us1, and almost everyone over 60, is affected by dry skin2.

When the outer layer of skin lacks moisture, small gaps form between the cells and visible cracks appear in the skin’s surface. The underlying causes, though, are many and varied-from seasonal dryness, to the symptoms of a skin condition or the side-effect of a new medication, so it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor to work out if anything more serious is going on.


Skip the fragranced products

The skin barrier, which helps protect us against environmental irritants and allergens, is weakened when our skin is not properly hydrated3, so dry skin is more sensitive to irritating ingredients. Small fragrance molecules can pass through the skin barrier where they can trigger a hypersensitivity reaction in some people4. Fragrances are among the most common allergens, yet they’re surprisingly hard to avoid in many of today’s skincare products. If your skin frequently feels sensitive or irritated, fragrance should be the first thing to cut from your skincare routine.

There are actually 3 different types of moisturising ingredients commonly used in skincare products occludents, emollients and humectants.

Dr. Joshua Townley

pH balanced washes

Use a pH balanced wash

Our skin naturally has a slightly acidic pH of around 4-5 (pure water is 7), which is great for those beneficial bacteria that live on the skin’s surface and not so great for the harmful microbes, like staphylococcus aureus5. Soap, while very effective at removing dirt and oil, has a high pH of about 10, which can disrupt the skin barrier, causing it to dry out further, and raise the pH of skin5.


Why is moisturising daily is important?

We all know that moisturisers are essential for relieving dry skin. But not all moisturisers are created equal. There are actually 3 different types of moisturising ingredients commonly used in skincare products: occludents (like petrolatum); emollients (like paraffinum liquidum) and humectants (like glycerin). Used alone, they can provide short-term hydration for dry skin, but when combined they work together to mimic the way skin naturally hydrates itself.

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