Keeping your skin moisturized is an important step in combating dry skin and managing itchy eczema symptoms. Unfortunately, if you suffer from sensitive skin, using any moisturizer that you picked off the shelf may actually do more harm than good. This is because many moisturizers contain harsh chemicals or harmful ingredients that are not healthy for your body or our precious planet. But more on that later!
In this blog post, we’ll cover causes and symptoms of dry skin, examine the relationship between dry skin and eczema, describe what makes the best moisturizer for sensitive skin, and so much more.
Causes of Dry Skin
Suffering from dry skin and wondering why? Let’s take a closer look. While some people are born with naturally dry skin, the condition can also be caused by a variety of different environmental factors. One of the prime perpetrators of dry skin is the weather. Have you ever noticed that your skin tends to get drier (and itchier) during the cold, winter months and can sometimes get painful to touch? This is because the cool air and low humidity levels contribute to removing moisture from your skin, leading to dryness. Unsurprisingly, changing temperatures and winter air also makes sensitive skin more prone to eczema flare-ups.
Another factor that raises the risk of dry skin is age. For example, older people are more likely to suffer from dry skin than younger people because pores naturally produce less oil as you age. In fact, more than 50 percent of adults older than 40 have dry skin. Those that work in a job that require the skin to be immersed in water are also more likely to experience dry skin. Examples of these types of jobs include hairdressers and nurses. Lastly, the likelihood of suffering from dry skin significantly increases if you suffer from a medical condition like eczema or allergic contact dermatitis.
Fortunately for many people, dry skin is usually just a temporary problem that can be managed with some lifestyle changes and the use of effective moisturizers. However, it can also be a lifelong condition.
Signs and Symptoms of Dry Skin
While dry skin isn’t usually a serious condition, it can be very uncomfortable. This is especially true when dryness is accompanied by itching and scaling. Other symptoms include redness, cracks that may bleed, peeling, and a general feeling of skin tightness. This feeling may be amplified after exposure to water - especially hot water - from bathing, showering, or swimming. Bear in mind that these symptoms may vary depending on age, health, and the environment in which you live. Although the symptoms mentioned can develop anywhere on the body, the most common areas to be affected are the arms, hands, and legs.
Eczema and Dry Skin
Due to a damaged skin barrier that has trouble retaining moisture, many people with eczema suffer from chronically dry skin. In fact, dryness is one of the main reasons why itchiness is a prime eczema symptom. Unfortunately, many people scratch at their itch which can lead to the vicious itch-scratch cycle. If relentless scratching or picking occurs, the skin may even crack or bleed. This can pave the way for infection as the skin becomes more vulnerable to bacteria. Over time, chronic scratching can also lead to lichenification. This gives the skin a thickened, leathery texture. Because eczema and dry skin go hand in hand, it’s common for people to experience an increase in flare-ups during the dry, winter months or when continuously exposing their skin to water, either through work or recreational activities.
Washing with Sensitive Skin
While it can be tempting to relax and soak your body in a hot bath, you should probably think twice about it. This is because prolonged exposure to water has a tendency to further dry out the skin as it strips the skin of its natural, protective oils. Furthermore, hot water in particular has an extra drying effect. For this reason, we recommend you bathe in lukewarm water and turn the shower dial two notches down from where you’d like it to be. We also recommend reducing your shower time to five-ten minutes and limiting it to once a day (less is fine as well). Make sure you wash your body with the best natural products that are free of harsh chemicals, fragrances, alcohol, and preservatives. In addition, it’s important to avoid scrubbing your sensitive skin with loofahs or sponges as this can exacerbate irritation. The best way to wash is by lathering the soap onto your hands. When you are finished, gently pat dry your skin with a towel. And, of course, don’t forget to apply a moisturizer immediately afterwards to replenish any lost hydration. We also recommend keeping a moisturizer next to your sink so that it can be easily applied after washing your hands. Your sensitive skin will thank you!
How to Best Prevent Dry Skin
As we mentioned earlier, there are some simple lifestyle changes you can make in order to prevent dry skin. In addition to decreasing bathing frequency and swapping out soaps and other bathing products (yes, that includes bubble bath!) for their natural, healthier alternatives, you should also drink plenty of water. While drinking an adequate amount of water each day provides a multitude of health benefits for the body, including helping with digestion, circulation, and excretion, it also does wonders for the skin. And that makes sense, given that your skin is an organ which is made up of cells which are made up of water. If your body isn’t properly hydrated, your skin may appear dry and flaky. It will also be more prone to wrinkling. Drinking at least eight glasses of water per day, however, will give your skin a healthy, radiant glow. So not only will drinking water give you a younger-looking complexion, but you’ll also be healthier because of it. Double win!
Another excellent way to prevent dry skin is to protect it as much as possible from the elements. In cold and windy weather, do your best to cover your skin with a scarf, hat, or gloves. If you suffer from textile dermatitis or if your skin is sensitive to irritating fabrics such as wool, polyester, nylon, or spandex, you should check out our eczema-friendly clothing alternatives. This Long Sleeve Eczema Shirt for adults and kids covers the chest, stomach, back, and arms. Made with super soft TENCEL and embedded with anti-inflammatory zinc, it’s comfortable to wear as a protective garment underneath regular clothing during the day. Thanks to its moisture-wicking properties, there’s no need to worry about sweaty irritation or chafing.
The shirt pairs perfectly with our Remedywear™ Long Pants for kids and adults. Featuring a legging-like fit, the pants are perfect for soothing itchy, dry skin or treating sensitive skin because of eczema or psoriasis on legs. You’ll love the latex-free elastane and breathable fabric.
To boost the effectiveness of these garments, combine them with wet or dry wrap therapy. These are effective at-home remedies designed to restore moisture to the skin. Dry wrapping involves hydrating the skin with a natural moisturizer and then covering with a layer of fabric such as the Remedywear™ clothing mentioned above. Wet wrapping is similar to dry wrapping but with a slight difference. After applying a moisturizer to the affected area, wet wrapping involves covering it with a damp piece of clothing. A second, dry layer is then added to help lock in the moisture. Compared to dry wrapping, wet wrapping is a more intense treatment that provides immediate cooling relief. We recommend leaving the wet wraps on for at least two hours, or overnight. Once you remove the wet wraps, don’t forget to apply another layer of a natural moisturizer.
Finally, we recommend investing in a humidifier for your home. This is useful because air in the winter becomes drier both inside and outside your home. If you have sensitive skin or already suffer from dry skin, this can pave the way for cracked skin – something that can be both painful and uncomfortable! A humidifier will also help combat the dry heat that may come from your home heating system. Adding moisture back into the air will lessen the impact of dry skin and make sensitive skin less irritated.
What Makes a Good Moisturizer for Your Skin?
Finding the best moisturizer for you and your sensitive skin may feel like a challenge. As your condition changes over time, so can the effectiveness of your chosen moisturizer. That being said, not all moisturizers are created equal and there are definitely many moisturizers that may exacerbate your symptoms or cause irritation.
We can classify moisturizers into three different types: creams, ointments and lotions. They are categorized based on the amount of oil and water they contain. The more oil a moisturizer contains, the better it will be at hydrating dry skin. So if you think your moisturizer feels ‘greasy’, don’t fret. That simply means your moisturizer contains more oil and will do a better job at locking in moisture.
Out of the three, ointments tend to have the highest oil content. This makes them very effective at hydrating the skin and preventing water loss. If you suffer from extremely dry skin, an ointment may be the best choice for you. Creams have the second highest amount of oil content which makes them better than lotions at sealing in moisture. While they are less greasy to the touch, they sometimes contain stabilizers or preservatives which can be irritating to sensitive skin. Lastly, lotions contain the least amount of oil as water is the main ingredient. This makes them the least effective at hydrating dry skin as the water in the lotion evaporates quickly.
Knowing the difference between these kinds of moisturizers can help you choose the right moisturizer for you and your sensitive skin. And don’t forget that what works for someone else’s skin, may not necessarily work for you.
Clean Beauty and Sensitive Skin
Skincare is obviously an important part of maintaining healthy skin. In order to keep skin looking radiant and glowing, it’s essential to keep skin hydrated by applying a moisturizer at least twice a day. Sadly, however, many moisturizers out there contain harsh chemicals, cheap fillers, and other harmful ingredients. This is particularly damaging to those who already suffer from sensitive skin as a negative reaction or flare up is more likely to occur when the skin is exposed to chemicals or toxins.
That’s why we’re big fans of clean beauty. This positive movement puts an emphasis on natural products that use non-toxic and healthy ingredients to nourish your body. As a result, you will experience less sensitivity, irritation, and even clogged pores. Clean beauty also puts the well-being of our planet first by ensuring that companies are held accountable for their sustainable practices and that their products meet safety regulations and ethical standards.
The Best Ingredients for Sensitive Skin
Some sensitive skin friendly ingredients include shea butter, glycerin, and lanolin. They are perfect for combatting dry skin because they provide a much needed boost of hydration. By helping draw moisture from the air to your skin, they also help contribute to giving your skin that glowing, radiant look you’ve always dreamed about. We also suggest that you look for a moisturizer that contains sunscreen (zinc and titanium only). This will protect your skin from harmful UV rays when your skin is exposed to the sun.
Many people use coconut oil to combat the drying effects of eczema and it’s no wonder why. Coconut oil is a natural moisturizer because of its ability to quickly penetrate the skin. For those suffering from dry skin, this is very good news as its supreme hydrating qualities help improve skin elasticity and reduce itchiness. For your self-care activity of the day, we highly recommend taking a coconut oil bath!
Aloe vera is a powerful plant known for its ability to soothe sunburns. However, it does so much more than that. Because of its natural ability to provide a powerful boost of moisture, many people use this gentle remedy to hydrate dry skin and reduce itchy eczema symptoms. We highly recommend this ultra-hydrating moisturizer to replenish your dry, sensitive skin.
Beeswax is another natural remedy known for restoring moisture to dry skin. It is rich in Vitamin-A which makes it highly effective at boosting skin cell growth. To find relief from dryness, give beeswax a try.
Last but not least, we are huge fans of Manuka honey. Native to New Zealand, manuka honey is renowned for its natural ability to soothe and moisturize the skin. Unlike regular forms of honey, manuka honey contains 1,000x more methylglyoxal. This gives it supreme antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. The moisturizing effects of honey truly give your skin a natural glow. Best of all, manuka honey is 100% natural, making it the perfect choice for those with sensitive skin, eczema, psoriasis, or any other skin condition.
Harmful Ingredients for your Skin
We can’t stress enough how important it is to read labels carefully. While we understand that it can sometimes be difficult to determine whether a product is truly clean or not, our general rule of thumb is that if you can’t pronounce the name of the ingredients, it probably isn’t good for you. And, of course, when trying out new products, always do a small patch test first rather than apply it everywhere on your body. This is a safety measure to ensure that your skin does not have a negative reaction to the product. To do a patch test effectively, introduce a small pea-sized amount of product to your wrist or elbow. Leave the area alone for 24-48 hours and keep an eye out for any sign of an allergic reaction. Signs of an allergy can include itchiness, pain, flaking, breakouts, or the formation of a red rash.
Without any further ado, let’s take a closer look at some harmful ingredients you should look out for when choosing a moisturizer for your sensitive skin. First off, you want to avoid parabens. While parabens are widely used as preservatives in pharmaceutical and cosmetic products like moisturizers, they have been found in human breast cancer tissues. This possible link to cancer should be enough to send you running the other way!
Another toxic ingredient is siloxane. Siloxanes are commonly found in facial creams and moisturizers because they can soothe and soften the skin. Unfortunately, research also suggests that they can impair human fertility. Petrolatum is another ingredient that is often found in moisturizers because it helps to lock in moisture. However, when linked with another chemical called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, it can also lead to cancer.
When picking your moisturizer, watch out for Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hdroxytoluene (BHT). These chemicals are synthetic antioxidants and a possible human carcinogen. By mimicking estrogen, they may also disrupt hormones.
Finally, watch out for Polyethylene glycols. These petroleum-based compounds can cause irritation and systemic toxicity. They are commonly used as softeners, moisture-carriers and thickeners in cosmetics.
The Best Moisturizers for Sensitive Skin
The best moisturizers for sensitive skin are natural and gentle which is why we absolutely adore this Organic Manuka Skin Soothing Cream. All-natural, it’s made with just six ingredients including organic olive oil, organic beeswax, filtered water, grape seed oil, organic active 16+ New Zealand manuka honey, and manuka oil extract. As there is no burning or stinging, it’s gentle enough for the delicate skin of little ones and effective on adults with sensitive skin.
We recommend using this nourishing oil-based balm that’s rich in emollients to restore moisture to dry skin, reduce eczema or psoriasis symptoms, treat sunburn, and even soothe diaper rash. With its sweet, honey smell and buttery texture, this creamy moisturizer really is the best treat for all skin types. Doctor approved and EWG Skin Deep 1 Rated, this natural moisturizer is safe to use anywhere on your body from head to toe, even on sensitive skin like the lips and eyelids.