Whether it’s weather-induced or a chronic issue, dry skin is compromised, less-healthy skin. Skin’s supple, elastic natural state enables it to protect the entire body from invaders; when it’s too dry, the skin’s barrier function is affected. But even less serious dryness can cause irritation and itchiness. And it doesn’t just feel bad: Dry skin can look uneven, blotchy, and decidedly more wrinkled, as moisture plumps and smooths the skin (albeit temporarily). It also doesn’t reflect light in the same way as healthily hydrated skin. We’ve sat down with our consultant dermatologist Dr Rajkomar to discuss his top tips when it comes to dry skin.
What ingredients do you look for in a product for maximum hydration?
Dry skin can be caused when your skin barrier is compromised. The most common reason why you might get dry skin, especially on hands and feet is if your body doesn’t have enough natural oil, causing it to lose moisture through increased trans-epidermal water loss.
There are many causes of dry skin. For example, external factors:
- Cold weather
- Excessive hot water
Other causes include inflammatory conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
There are certain ingredients such a humectant (which attracts and therefore keep water within the skin) or an occlusive (prevents water loss).
Naturally occurring humectants include glycerine, sorbitol or hyaluronic acid. You could also opt for a petroleum jelly (like Vaseline) which acts more like an occlusion by preventing further water loss.
Are there any real differences between very expensive lotions/creams and the inexpensive ones?
I always say to my patients that the difference between an inexpensive and expensive moisturiser/lotion cream is not necessarily the ingredients included, but the branding and marketing behind the product. Also, the ingredients in expensive lotions can be rarer, hence the higher price. Therefore, I recommend reading the ingredient list and researching the benefits before purchasing a product, if you are getting the same ingredients in a cheaper product, it’s always a good idea to go for this.
What about items like Vaseline – is this a good option to apply to dry skin?
Vaseline (petroleum jelly) will treat and protect the skin. If you have severe cracking, Vaseline can be really good at locking in moisture. Also, by covering your hands or feet with socks or a bandage will help your skin absorb moisture more effectively. It is a good idea to do this overnight.
What’s your favourite drug-store remedy for dry hands and feet?
This is a personal choice, patients will find what works best for them over time as everyone reacts differently to different products. I find rich moisturisers and night creams lock in the most moisture, especially if you use them over night and give your body the chance to absorb them. If your dry skin is causing bleeding or irritation you should contact your GP or a dermatologist.