How to beat extra dry skin
Wendy Stirling of Botanicals Natural Organic Skincare looks at the causes - and advises on which products might help, and how to choose them.
The skin is our body’s largest organ and keeping it in good condition is essential for our everyday health. So if hormone levels are abnormal, our wellbeing can be acutely affected and this, in turn, can affect the condition of our skin. Due to the many hormonal changes experienced by a woman during her life, statistically this affects more women than men.
Why Do So Many Women Suffer From Extra Dry Skin?
Hormone imbalance is often the cause of extra dry skin. This can occur during pregnancy, child birth, the menopause, and also through a thyroid disorder.
Pregnancy & Child Birth
Skin can become dry during pregnancy because of hormonal changes but also because fluids are being used by the developing baby. Increased hormone levels, coupled with the skin becoming stretched, can also cause it to feel more delicate and sensitive. As a result, soaps, detergents and skincare products that have been used for years, may suddenly cause dryness and irritation.
As we age, our skin thins. We are therefore more prone to skin sensitivity. Add to this the hormonal changes associated with the menopause and it’s easy to see why mature women are more susceptible to extra dry, sensitive skin.
About one in 50 women and one in 1000 men experience thyroid problems at some stage in their life. In approximately 80% of these cases the disorder is an under-active thyroid. This has the effect of reducing the metabolism, which can often result in dry and irritated skin. Extra dry skin is prone to conditions such as dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis. The hair and scalp can also be affected, with symptoms such as dry and brittle hair, dry and itchy scalp, and even hair loss. Under-active thyroid treatment is usually straightforward, although these extra dry skin conditions can often remain.
What’s The Answer?
Whatever the cause of the hormone imbalance, the sufferer’s common response is to reach for those creams and lotions that promise to ‘moisturise’, ‘hydrate’ and ‘soften’ the skin. But how can you identify the products that really work (and those that don’t), from the vast array of lotions and potions available to us, without it costing a small fortune?
Whilst most products give some immediate relief, the underlying symptoms often remain, meaning that the product has to be re-applied – usually several times a day. Some conventional skincare products can be drying and irritating to the skin, especially if they contain synthetic or chemical ingredients, causing a vicious circle to occur. If our skin feels extra dry and inflamed, we slather on the cream in blissful ignorance that the cream itself may be contributing to the condition.
Skincare products, like our food, should provide nourishment and repair. The body is built to respond to nutrients found in our natural environment, so why should the skin be any different? If we believe nature knows best, we should be looking for products that contain natural botanicals to nourish the skin and promote the growth of new skin cells.
However, there's a real difference between the regulations governing the labelling of food and those for personal bodycare products. 'Natural' and 'organic' are very misused terms. Unlike food, there's no legislation governing them. Products labelled 'organic' can contain as little as 1% of ingredients derived from natural or organic origin. This means that products that are legitimately marketed as ‘natural’ or ‘organic’, are competing with products that are being marketed on the basis of a 'natural' image, rather than actual ingredients.
So, if hormone imbalance is causing your extra dry skin, what steps can you take to ensure you’re using the best, natural products to ease your condition and protect your skin and health?
Tips On Choosing Natural Remedies For Extra Dry Skin
* Like food, choose only products that have not been over processed, ensuring that the active botanicals have not been damaged during production.
* Check the order in which the ingredients are listed. The therapeutic active botanical ingredients should always be towards the top. Ingredients are listed by descending order according to the amount used. So if a product promotes shea butter as its active ingredient, shea butter should be one of the first ingredients.
* When buying skin care products it is safer to adopt a ‘less is best’ approach, particularly where ingredients with chemical sounding names are concerned. Parfum, sulphates, parabens, PEGs, propylene glycol can be skin irritants.
* Finally, if a product carries a well-respected certification symbol, such as that of the Soil Association, you can be fairly sure that it will do what it says on the tin.
Wendy Stirling, founder of Botanicals Natural Organic Skincare, is a passionate advocate of authentic natural and organic skincare and is included the Top 25 Who’s Who in Natural Beauty, just published by Natural Beauty Yearbook. The entire Botanicals range is certified by the Soil Association and has won many FreeFrom Skincare Awards in past years, including Best FreeFrom Brand in 2014. Visit www.botanicals.co.ukto find more tips about natural remedies for extra dry skin and other skin care problems.