Combating Dry Skin
what does it mean to have dry skin?
Skin that is dry is inefficient at producing enough sebum which can lead to dullness, cracking, tightness, itchiness and flaking. Dryness is not equivalent to dehydration. When skin is dehydrated, it lacks water; when skin is dry, it lacks oil.
Dehydration is typically the result of environment, causes including inadequate water intake, poor diet, lack of humidity, season, frequent cleansing and improper cleanser choice. Dryness is simply the natural state of skin. To combat dry skin, oil reserves need to be replenished.
how to treat dry skin
Ideally, skin is plump and radiant, full of moisture and bounce. Although skin type cannot be changed, it can be treated with the right products to deliver a preferred outcome. Consider the Korean skincare routine and options to best implement layering to quench dry skin.
the korean skincare routine with a focus on dry skin
The first step is the double cleanse. Oil cleansing is great for dry skin. It doesn’t strip the moisture barrier, rather replenishes since oils contain high fatty acids which keep skin nourished and moisturised. Balms such as the Banila Co. Clean It Zero and Trilogy Makeup Be Gone, transform from solid to a silky oil to gently and easily remove makeup and sunscreen, simultaneously leaving skin feeling moisturised, hydrated and smooth. Alternatively, there are oil cleansers in liquid form such as Leegeehaam Life Pure and Klairs Gentle Black Deep Cleansing Oils that achieve a similar result.
The second step is a water based cleanser. This should be gentle and at a slightly acidic pH so as to mimic that of the acid mantle which in turn will protect the skin’s natural oil supply. For instance, the Heimish All Clean Green Foam and Neogen Green Tea Cleansing Stick deliver a low pH solution. As such, the protective moisture barrier remains intact and the cleaning process better prepares the skin to absorb the layers that follow.
Note, overcleansing is a problem for all, but particularly those with dry skin. It is advised to only double cleanse at night and apply a light cleanse in the morning where perhaps even a refreshing splash of water will suffice.
Exfoliation is the process of removing dead cells and encouraging cell turnover for a more radiant complexion. In particular when it comes to dry skin which struggles to produce sufficient oil, it ensures the pores are not clogged but rather clear of debris and ready to absorb the nutrients to come. Exfoliation can be via a physical scrub or peel, alternatively an acid toner. The former uses friction to clear pores while the latter sweeps away debris chemically which is more gentle on the skin. The choice is one of preference although both should be kept to a minimum (2-3 times a week) so as not to further disrupt the skin’s barrier.
Some dislike physical scrubs as they can tear the skin structure and expose it to bacteria. Ensure only gentle pressure is used when massaging a scrub on the face to avoid such an outcome.
The Huxley Sweet Therapy Scrub Mask is an example of a physcial exfoliant while the Leegeehaam Grow Tea Tree 70 BHA Toner is an acid toner that delivers chemical exfolation.
If cleansing doesn’t leave the skin pH balanced and the pores clear, the toner should make the appropriate adjustment as well as adding the first layer of welcomed hydration. To treat dry skin, you should avoid the drying effects of alcohol and choose toners accordingly. Check the ingredient list to make certain. Toner is the first layer applied to a clean face so any nasties get quickly absorbed without any filtering from previous layers.
Excellent examples of suitable toners include the Klairs Supple Preparation and the iUNIK Rose Galactomyces Essential Toners.
essence, serum & ampoule
Essence, serum and ampoule basically do the same thing only in increasing concentrations and hence potency respectively. Generally with increased potency comes thicker viscosity too. You can use either or all in the same routine.
Essence is an important step in the Korean skincare routine. It is like a lightweight but concentrated serum that is easily absorbed to give skin nourishment, hydration and radiance, so an excellent step to include for dry skin. It also prepares the skin for heavier layers and should be use before serum.
Serums and ampoules target specific skin needs. It is common to layer serums although too many clouds our understanding of efficacy. Which serum contributed which result? 2-3 layers in this category within a routine is ample. Regardless of which you choose, they can provide a good hit of targeted hydration for dry skin as well as contribute other benefits such as brightening, wrinkle care, softening and calming.
The Su:m37° Secret Essence, Benton Snail Bee Ultimate Serum and Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Ampoule are popular choices.
Oils and creams are vital steps to help dry skin. They can be used together or independently to provide a boost of moisture. A good cream will hydrate the skin and lock in moisture without causing breakouts. Oils are great at delivering suppleness and reinforcing the skin barrier.
Oils can be singular or a blend which can provide a lighter consistency and multitude of benefits such as the Rovectin Skin Essentials Barrier Repair Face Oil. Touted as a dry skin saviour, the Dr Jart+ Ceramidin Cream works hard to restore the skin barrier with the hero ingredient, ceramides, for better moisture retention.
Sleeping masks (sometimes called sleeping packs) are heavy duty moisturisers that seal in the rest of the routine helping preceding layers to be more efficient but primarily providing a final concentrated burst of hydration that takes effect while you sleep. They are quite strong and therefore only required a few times a week rather than nightly. They can be used in lieu of cream and/or oil or in addition to them as the final step of the evening routine.
Although they are called masks, they aren’t as dense or messy as typical wash off ones. Mostly they take the form of a rich cream that soaks into the skin. Often sleeping masks can leave an occlusive film over the skin to trap in moisture as you sleep so you awake with a more bouncy and refreshed complexion. They are a great final step and an ideal inclusion for dry skin.
So many products can be totally overwhelming, particularly if you are new to Korean skincare. As with any regimen, take it slow and introduce products one at a time. Give them a chance to show results before bringing in more new ones. Perhaps begin by reassessing your current routine and deciding whether those products are having positive or detrimental effects on your dry skin. Initial steps might include making sure your cleanser is pH balanced and your toner doesn’t contain alcohol. Often products are designed for specific needs so ensure you’re using those that best suit your skin type and objectives. Treat each layer independently and then see how they work together as you grow your routine over a period of weeks or even months. And remember, changes won’t happen overnight, so exercise patience and allow the products time to work.
Korean skincare is available at April & Ko.