GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) – What it is. Skin that looks and feels dry, rough, tight, itchy and uncomfortable. At its most miserable, you might have red, flaky patches — particularly on your elbows, lower arms and legs.
What causes it. Your risk of dry skin increases with age — in fact, more than 50 percent of adults age 40 and older deal with it. Our sebaceous glands pump out less oil, while the skin’s barrier, which helps skin hold onto moisture, is more compromised. This leaves skin vulnerable to a laundry list of irritants, including dry and windy winter weather, hot baths and showers (which can strip away the skin’s natural oil and play havoc with its moisture levels), along with harsh chemicals in soaps and detergents. Even certain medications for blood pressure and cholesterol can be culprits.
How to help. Your best bet: Avoid triggers that leave skin parched in the first place. Take warm (not hot) baths and showers. “Lather up with a mild fragrance-free soap or a cleansing cream, and soak for no more than 10 to15 minutes. After bathing, pat your skin dry — don’t rub — with a towel and immediately after getting out of the bath, slather on a moisturizing cream,” says Martin. Avoid products with fragrance and switch to a fragrance-free detergent (or try double-rinsing your clothes).
Otherwise, wear a scarf, hat and gloves when you go out, and use a humidifier at night to help replenish moisture in the air lost to dry indoor heating. You can also help moisturize from the inside by consuming plenty of essential omega-3 fatty acids (EFAs), which help boost hydration. Good sources include fatty fish (salmon, sardines, albacore tuna), seeds (flaxseed, pumpkin and sunflower), avocado and walnuts. Also shoot for drinking around eight glasses of water daily, but know that you can satisfy some of your recommended daily allowance of H2O with water-filled food, such as lettuce, strawberries or cucumbers.
What it is. Drab-looking skin that’s lost its smoothness and youthful radiance.
What causes it. There are a lot of reasons why skin becomes lackluster. For one thing, as we age cell turnover starts to slow down, which causes dead skin cells to accumulate on the surface of our skin, give it a dull, rather than dewy, look. Then there are years of bad habits. Alcohol dehydrates the skin, sweets cause collagen (a strengthening component that gives skin elasticity) to become stiff and brittle and smoking decreases the blood supply to the skin. And then there’s the cumulative effects of sun damage. “Even 10 minutes of exposure a day, over the course of a lifetime, is enough to age your skin drastically,” warns Jaliman.
How to help. Yep, you can get back that youthful glow — or much of it, anyway. Besides ditching a few habits and committing to a daily sunblock, rethink your daily skin-care routine. Start by getting your skin very clean. Don’t just lather up in the morning. “Wash well whenever coming in from outside to remove dirt and pollution from the skin’s surface, using a washcloth to gently rub skin to whisk away dry skin,” says Jaliman.
To double-down on exfoliation, use a cleanser that contains alpha hydroxy acids to sweep away buildup on the skin’s surface and encourage cell turnover. And invest in a good brightening serum with vitamin C, an antioxidant that makes skin glow, before a final boost of hydration from a moisturizer.If your skin needs a serious boost, consider an in-office resurfacing treatment, such as microdermabrasion or a chemical peel. They can be pricey: Each microdermabrasion treatment can cost anywhere from $75 to $300, and you may need multiple sessions. A chemical peel is, on average, about $700 and usually needs to be repeated every three to six months to maintain that luminous look.