Characteristics of dry and sensitive skin
Before we delve deeper into the best moisturisers for dry and sensitive skin, let’s look at the characteristics of this skin type.
To have an effective skincare routine, you must first know your skin type. There are five main skin types, namely:
To determine your skin type, start by washing your face with a mild cleanser. Pat it dry and do not apply any product for 30 minutes. If your skin appears shiny throughout, you have oily skin. If it feels comfortable and is not oily, you have normal skin. If it feels tight and rough after thirty minutes, you have dry skin. Combination skin is both oily and dry, so you’ll notice that your T-zone will be oily, and your cheeks will be dry or normal.
While sensitive is also categorised as a skin type, you can have oily, dry, or normal skin that is sensitive. Sensitive skin is red, and it may experience burning or itching.
If you have dry and sensitive skin, you might also notice scaling, fine lines, cracks, and flaking skin that cause an ashy look, especially on dark and brown skin. Dealing with these symptoms can feel like an everyday battle, so it is important to find products that hydrate and moisturise your skin.
What causes dry and sensitive skin?
Dry skin lacks the lipids needed to retain moisture and build a barrier against external influences. Therefore, climate and environmental factors like cold winter air, humidity and increased sun exposure can cause or exacerbate symptoms of dry skin. Also, personal habits such as poor nutrition, cleansing with harsh soaps and cleansers, and over-exfoliating, strip the skin of its natural oils, causing dry, sensitive skin.
What is the best moisturiser for dry, sensitive skin?
The best ingredients for dry skin to look for in moisturisers include…
1. Hyaluronic acid
Hyaluronic acid is a holy grail for dry and dehydrated skin. As a molecule naturally found in the body, HA is a natural and effective way of hydrating the skin. It works by drawing moisture from its surroundings and delivering it to the cells. This action hydrates skin and helps you look younger by plumping and smoothing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
2. Sodium hyaluronate
If you can’t find hyaluronic acid in the ingredients list, check for sodium hyaluronate. Sodium hyaluronate is derived from hyaluronic acid, so it offers similar benefits. However, unlike HA, sodium hyaluronate has a low molecular weight which allows it to penetrate the epidermis, improving hydration in the underlying skin layers. It also helps control inflammation and speed up wound healing, making it one of the best ingredients for sensitive skin.
Ceramides are lipids or fats found in skin cells. They make up 30 to 40% of the epidermis, and their main roles are to retain your skin’s moisture and prevent the entry of germs. Dry skin lacks lipids, so if you are to win the battle against dry and dehydrated skin, your moisturiser must contain a ceramide. A ceramide moisturiser will help restore your skin’s protective barrier, allowing it to retain moisture and fight infections.
4. Aloe vera
Aloe vera is particularly helpful for dry and irritated skin. Aloe vera gel is packed with essential minerals and vitamins that hydrate and soothe the skin. Besides being a crucial ingredient in your everyday moisturiser, you can also use it on its own at home. Cut an aloe vera leaf in half and gently massage the gel side of the leaf on your face.
5. Vitamin E
A good moisturiser for dry and sensitive skin must contain an antioxidant. Antioxidants combat skin damage caused by free radicals and environmental factors like the sun. Vitamin E is a great example of an antioxidant. It is naturally found in our sebum, the oil that moisturises the skin. People with dry skin produce very little sebum, which means they also have little supply of Vitamin E on their skin.
Vitamin E makes your moisturiser work better. It softens the skin, stops it from losing moisture, and protects cells from damage. Besides its moisturising benefits, Vitamin E reduces the skin’s inflammatory responses such as reddening and swelling.
Ingredients to avoid
While it may be nice to have a moisturiser that smells like a vanilla cupcake or fruit, fragrances aggravate dry and sensitive skin. They trigger contact dermatitis, cause redness, and clog pores, causing acne. Therefore, when shopping for a moisturiser, look for unscented and fragrance-free labels. If the product is not labelled, look for fragrance or benzaldehyde in the ingredients list.
2. Denatured alcohols
Alcohol is dehydrating on the skin, so imagine the havoc it would cause on dry and irritated skin. It pulls water from your skin, affecting the skin barrier’s function and causing irritation, redness and even eczema. Keep an eye out for benzyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol and ethanol in the ingredients list.
3. Essential oils
Although essential oils offer numerous benefits, they have the opposite effect on dry and sensitive skin. Constituents of essential oils like bergamot are transformed into chemicals and enzymes that cause inflammation when exposed to the sun. Additionally, tea tree oil causes dryness and irritation and should therefore be avoided completely.
Now that you understand your skin better and know which ingredients to look for and which to avoid, you can confidently choose a moisturiser that serves your needs and is within your budget. Visit VSM Pharmacy Camberley, Farnborough or Frimley to learn more about the best moisturiser for dry, sensitive skin, browse our selection of dry skin moisturisers and order online today!