Dry skin 101: An expert’s guide to hydrated, happy skin

Sonia Taylor | Presented by Kenkay

Anyone prone to the discomfort of dry, flaky skin knows that effective and fast solutions are worth their weight in gold. And while many of us associate rough, sensitive and parched skin as a seasonal, winter thing, those dealing with this challenging skin type are often locked in a year-round battle.

Thankfully, there are simple ways to stay soothed and hydrated.

9Honey Style spoke with Dermatologist, Dr Leona Yip, to learn more about dry skin and what we can incorporate into our skincare routine to keep our skin hydrated.

What is dry skin?

It’s important to know that dry skin is actually a skin type, as opposed to a temporary condition.

“In normal skin, lipids (skin oils) and proteins form a seal and hold skin cells together on the top layer of the skin. This is called the skin barrier. Amongst other important functions, normal skin barrier integrity is required to maintain and trap skin moisture within the skin,” explains Dr Yip.

When there is a breach in the skin barrier’s ability to function optimally, you’re left with water loss and therefore dry skin.

What is it like to have dry skin?

“Dry skin makes the skin look flaky and scaly, and when dryness is really severe this gives the appearance of a network of cracks that can look like fish scales,” says Dr Yip.

She also explains how it is the most common cause of skin irritation and itching, and if left untreated, can lead to secondary eczema.

If you don’t have dry skin, you might not even realise that this skin type affects people’s lifestyles – even clothing choices – “as dry white flaky skin is usually visible on darker coloured clothing and surfaces.”

What are common causes for dry skin?

“Dry skin can both be genetic and environmental,” says Dr Yip.

This is why some people have seasonal skin dryness – in winter, you’re dealing with temperature changes that can dehydrate, especially due to overheating with layers of clothing, dry air, heaters and air conditioners.

Acne-related medication and products, as well as fragrances in products, can also promote dryness.

From a genetic standpoint, you’re looking at conditions like eczema.

What to incorporate in your routine to ditch dreaded dry skin

Whether your dry skin is environmental or genetic, “repair, replace and maintain the skin barrier is the mantra for dry skin treatment,” says Dr Yip.

1. Use gentle, unscented skin care products that don’t strip the skin

It’s important not to lose any of the skin’s natural oils and moisture. Dr Yip’s #1 tip? Ensure you’re using a soap-free wash to prevent aggravating skin dryness and irritation. Find a product like Kenkay Dry Skin Body Wash that’s free of soap, parabens and fragrances, too.

2. Avoid long, hot showers

Dr Yip says you should avoid taking scalding hot showers — or long hot showers — as they’ll actually exacerbate dry skin further.

3. All hail mighty moisturiser

“Moisturising helps to maintain a normal skin barrier to prevent dry and irritated skin,” says Dr Yip.

Using a skin moisturiser regularly – specifically, one that can trap and draw moisture into the skin – is crucial, according to Dr Yip. It’s also especially important for those using acne or anti-ageing creams, which cause and aggravate dry skin further.

Many moisturisers simply act as a barrier, preventing what moisture you already have from escaping. But dry-skinned folk are already low on moisture so need a little more oomph – Dr Yip advises to look for ingredients lists that include glycerine and/or paraffin.

4. Boost hydration with a mask

If you love a good sheet mask moment or know you’re headed out somewhere that will aggravate your dryness, then Dr Yip has the hot tip on what masks work best: “Hyaluronic acid and ceramide-enriched sheet masks can be soothing and great for hydration.”

Should you be drinking more water specifically for your skin?

“Contrary to popular beliefs, drinking a lot of water does not effectively restore skin hydration as it is also distributed to other organs in the body and little reaches the skin,” explains Dr Yip.

She reiterates that using the right products (like a soap-free wash) to prevent moisture loss and applying a skin moisturiser to restore hydration are the most effective ways to have nourished and hydrated skin. 

With skincare less is more, Kenkay is Australian made and owned with a focus on providing high quality skincare products and solutions. Dry Skin? Kenkay has you covered. Ask for Kenkay by name.