If you suffer from dry skin and currently have one of the following products in your skincare routine, it's time for a change.
1. Traditional Soaps
Ready for a brief chemistry lesson? The pH scale, which goes from 0 to 14, indicates how acidic or alkaline a substance is. An acid measures anywhere from 0 to 6.9, and bases range from 7.1 to 14. A pH of 7 is considered neutral.
Skin is naturally acidic. This low pH protects our skin from attack by germs and also helps keep skin hydrated. In fact, an unbalanced pH is a feature of dry skin.
Let's take a look at the pH levels of skin compared to soap:
•Healthy skin has a pH between 4.2 and 5.5.
•Traditional soap has a pH between 7 and 10.
Can you see how soap is likely to cause dry skin? Skin is acidic, and soap is alkaline. It's best to avoid all kinds of bar and liquid soap if you suffer from dry skin.
2. Foaming Face and Body Washes
Most products that foam contain ingredients that remove precious oil from skin. These ingredients, called 'surfactants', are used to remove excess sebum, oil-based waterproof makeup, pollution residues, and the occasional speck of dirt from the skin.
Surfactants are very effective—perhaps too effective for some complexions. If you have dry skin, it's best to avoid traditional foaming face washes and shower gels and switch to milder cleansing creams, milks, oils, and balms.
3. Alcohol-Based Toners & Astringents
The first toners were heavy on alcohol. Years ago, people believed that alcohol could decrease pore size, particularly in the T-zone area. As scientists have learnt more about the biology of skin, we now know that alcohol doesn't shrink visible pores.
In fact, many alcohols can be very drying to the skin. Alcohol is a solvent that's good at dissolving oils. The outer layers of skin—the ones that prevent dehydration—are mostly oil-based. So alcohol-based toners not only dehydrate skin but also create a compromised barrier function, which leads to long-term dryness.
If you have dry skin, you should avoid any toner labelled 'astringent' and any product that has one or more of the following ingredients high on the list:
Not all alcohols are created equally though. Dr. Hauschka's skincare expert notes that "We make our own natural alcohol by fermenting organically grown wheat. It's a certified organic food-grade ethyl alcohol. Many plant actives are extracted in alcohol because it gains the widest variety of plant constituents."
She also notes that alcohol can provide valuable function to a product, when formulated correctly. "Alcohol serves as a natural emulsifier, preservative and carrier, helping botanical ingredients to penetrate the skin. Alcohol is not drying to the skin when part of a carefully formulated Dr. Hauschka composition. Our alcohol is derived from a fermentation and distillation process and is gluten-free."
It's also important to understand that certain fatty alcohols, such as cetyl alcohol, are perfectly fine for dry skin. These ingredients are more commonly found in moisturising lotions and creams.
This also doesn't mean dry skin types should avoid toner altogether. Toners can actually be very beneficial for dry skin, because they balance the skin's pH.