AD | The lack of the proper amount of sebum on the skin is what lies at the root of any problems that you may be experiencing with dry skin. The sebaceous glands are located both in the middle layer of the skin, the dermis, and in the epidermis. Sebaceous glands are hitchhikers on the hair follicles. These small glands are very important to the health of your skin because they produce oil, wax, and fatty acids which blend together to form sebum. Sebum helps to protect your skin from becoming too dry and dehydrated. Sebum is your body’s natural moisturizer.

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What Causes Dry Skin?

Your epidermis should contain, at a minimum, about 10% water, and if the level falls below this dry skin will occur. A paucity of sebum is usually what causes this, and you can suffer from a lack of sebum from a variety of causes.

  • Your skin may just be naturally dry; your sebaceous glands simply do not produce enough sebum to keep your skin moist.

  • If you enjoy sunbathing, it’s no secret that the sun can suck all the moisture out of your epidermis in a short period of time.

  • Harsh soaps can strip too much sebum off of your skin when you wash your face. Washing your face more than twice daily can also do this, regardless of the kind of soap you may use.

  • Exfoliant products can likewise remove not only the oil from your skin, but too much of the dead skin cells – while the top layer of dead skin cells are being shed constantly, the under-layer of dead cells actually provides protection and retains moisture.

Problems with Dry Skin

Dry skin can cause nearly as many problems as can oily skin, and can actually be more detrimental to the long term health of your skin and your appearance.

  • Dry skin is often subject to flaking and cracking. This is because more dead skin cells are being shed than normally would be because of the lack of sebum.

  • Wrinkles are much more likely to appear on faces that have dry skin, and they will usually appear at a much earlier age.

  • Because dry skin is actually quite sensitive due to its lack of adequate moisture, acne can be a problem. It is best to start a treatment program as soon as acne appears.

  • Dry skin often simply feels uncomfortable and tight, especially after it has been washed.

  • Itching is a common problem associated with dry skin, and scratching will make the problem even worse.

Preventing and Correcting Dry Skin

Although dry skin can cause sometimes serious problems, there are ways to combat this and help your skin stay healthier and younger looking; start a regimen that will nurture your dry skin before problems arise.

  • Do not wash your face more than twice a day. Washing more frequently than this will only strip more of the protective layer of sebum from your face. And never use hot water to wash your face, use tepid, or even cool water, it will leave a bit more oil on your skin.

  • Take care to use a soap that is mild and contains some kind of oil or glycerin. It is probably best to use an unscented soap, too, as the chemicals used to provide the aroma can also affect your protective layer.

  • Use a moisturizer as soon as you finish patting your face dry (do not rub it to dry it, this will only remove more moisture). Look for a moisturizer cream or ointment, a lotion may simply not have enough moisturizing power for your dry skin.

  • Never go to bed wearing makeup, makeup will not only pull more moisture out of your skin, it will also clog up your pores, making it more likely that you will develop acne.

  • Winter is a tough time for dry skin as indoor heating will easily dehydrate your skin. Try to stay away from direct heating sources such as fireplaces and stoves and use a humidifier to add moisture to the air.

  • Use an exfoliant very infrequently, only once or twice a month. Exfoliants will remove too much of the outer layer of the skin and the protective sebum layer. Also, use a mild exfoliant when you do use one.

  • Makeup designed for dry skin will help protect and nourish your skin. Look for makeup that contains Vitamins E, A, and C. These vitamins provide antioxidants that can help restore skin that has been damaged by time and the sun.

  • Drink adequate amounts of fluids during the day. A good way to tell if you’re getting enough fluids is whether your lips feel dry, if they do, it’s time to up your intake.

Helping your dry skin stay in good shape is not really too difficult, if you keep a few simple things in mind. Oh, and be sure you get enough sleep at night to allow your body to repair any damage done to your face during the day.

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