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Caring for dry and blemished skin

Hydrating care for dry and blemished skin
Learn more about moisturizing care for skin dryness and blemishes.

Yumi Narasaki

Renowned Beauty Writer

Skin dryness may not be an inherent condition of the skin but could arise due to seasonal changes and other environmental factors. Dryness not only damages the skin barrier but also lowers moisture levels which could then lead to inflammation and blemishes. Avoid dryness through adequate hydration and better moisturization – review the moisture care in your skincare regime and start enjoying healthier and more beautiful skin!

SK-II’s ongoing research to attain dewy and supple skin has inevitably shed light on the causes of skin dryness. These are the key research findings:

Atmospheric moisture varies throughout the day, just like how the moisture content of your skin doesn’t remain constant from dawn to dusk. The mornings are when your skin is at its most plump and its moisture content gradually depletes as the day progresses.

Reasons for this moisture decrease
are a combination of the following:

  • Exposure to a dry air-conditioned environment

  • Physical and psychological stress

  • Oxidation damage from UV exposure

Since these conditions are almost unavoidable in our daily lives, moisturization care becomes all the more crucial in preventing dryness.

During winter, the skin becomes dryer due to the lower temperature and humidity. In summer, however, even though we experience skin dryness, we feel the stickiness on our skin more. This is because the sebum secretion is higher during the summer months, causing the skin surface to feel sticky. Not only that, stronger UV rays on summer days, along with the extreme temperature variance between air-conditioned interiors and scorching outdoors, can cause a lot of damage. These all affect the skin barrier, making it more tolerable to dryness.

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Statistics show that if we only have five hours of sleep each night for three consecutive days, the skin’s water content will be reduced by 17%. This is a 13-fold increase in water loss compared to normal skin conditions! So make sure you get sufficient quality sleep to enjoy beautiful skin.

Alcohol dehydrates and damages the skin. Moreover, alcohol that is not metabolized by the body interferes with the skin’s protective function and its ability to retain moisture. In fact, your skin begins to dehydrate within half an hour of alcohol consumption! As for smoking, inhalation of tobacco smoke results in oxidative stress. It creates an imbalance of antioxidants in the body which leads to skin cell damage. This results in dull and dry skin, aging, and a host of diseases over time.

The NMF in the epidermis forms a protective coat, along with intercellular lipids such as sebum and ceramide, to maintain adequate hydration and supple skin. We start off with a high amount of NMF as a child but this declines rapidly with age. The result is reduced water content which causes the skin to lose its elasticity and become dull.  Hence, moisturization is essential in maintaining youthful skin, embodied by the dewiness of one’s complexion.

  • Feeling of tautness or dryness in your skin

  • Absence of glow in the skin, lacking suppleness

  • Makeup lacks staying power and smudges easily

  • Flaky skin

  • Skin feels rough to the touch

  • Visible signs of acne and/or pimples

Skin that is dry tends to be taut, rough, and lackluster. It also causes an unevenness to the skin texture which prevents makeup from staying on well after application. Not only that, the skin also gets progressively flakier and rougher. Should this dryness persist, the skin’s barrier will be damaged and no longer performs its protective function. This will cause sensitive skin to become rough and secretions from sebaceous glands will increase to counter this dryness. The result is clogged pores, which will then lead to unsightly acne and pimples.

The water content in the outermost layer of your skin tends to reflect the humidity of the surrounding environment. This is why the low humidity of the cold autumn and winter air, or dry air, exacerbates skin dryness. Even during summer months, we may experience the harsh effects of dry air when we spend more time in air-conditioned rooms.

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Skin dryness can result from the environment, or from damaged skin caused by reduced barrier functions due to cosmetics use. However, our own carelessness could also cause unexpected skin dryness such as, if you rub your face too excessively while washing or drying, or failing to apply creams and lotions gently on the skin. These abrasive actions can damage the skin barrier and further expose your skin to dryness.

Do you only use a toner without a moisturizer because you dislike its stickiness? Or do you avoid cleansing products because it causes your skin to feel dry? Be honest when reviewing your own skincare regime! It is important to remember that improper care contributes to conditions like stickiness and dryness which make it difficult for moisture to penetrate the skin surface.

Our skin barrier, which consists of a layer of lipids, shields our skin surface to protect it from allergens and microbes. The sebum barrier, which supplies the skin with sebaceous lipids, maintain the integrity of this skin protection function. However, exposure to UV rays causes oxidation and reduces the efficacy of its protective function.

Skin cells are constantly regenerating and this renewal replaces our old skin cells. So why is achieving good quality sleep important to skin health? Our sleep patterns affect the growth hormone and when this sleep rhythm is interrupted in its frequency and balance, the growth hormone secretion necessary for regeneration and repair suffers. Dry skin is the result since skin cells and tissues are not repaired as needed.

To support healthy cell regeneration and repair, it is important to have a well-balanced diet. The three-meals-a-day routine is important as it supplies your body with nutritional needs instead of having to rely on supplements. This is also why you’d notice that individuals who go on diets are prone to developing rough skin.

Our skin looks the best when the moisture and sebum levels are balanced. This happens when your basic skincare regime includes the use of a moisturizing toner and lotion that help build up the skin protection barrier.

With the current need to don a face mask when outdoors or interacting with others, it is advisable to apply a layer of milk lotion or cream for the added protection before wearing a face mask. This moisture membrane helps prevent scratches and abrasions that sometimes occur from wearing a face mask. If you feel stuffy when wearing a face mask after you’ve applied the lotion or cream, consider switching to water-based lotion or cream instead.

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When washing your face, make sure the cleansing agent, be it foam, gel, or cream, creates a lather between your face and hands. Pat dry gently with a soft towel instead of rubbing your face. Proceed to use a cotton pad to apply your toner and lotion, moving it in a gentle, circular motion.

You might have heard comments that using sunblock roughens the skin – it’s a myth! Any form of sun protection acts as a protective barrier to reduce the damages from exposure to UV rays. UV rays are what cause our skin to become dry and rough.

With the changing of the seasons, particularly in early spring or summer when the UV rays are stronger, the skin’s condition will be affected. We strongly recommend that moisturization be an integral part of your skincare routine, not just for spring and summer, but all year round. Bear in mind that when choosing a sunblock, it is advisable to select one with ingredients providing moisturization that will protect the skin from further environmental damage.

Though 7 hours of sleep a night is ideal, it is not a luxury that everyone can afford. An alternative is to focus on the quality of sleep. Some ways to help improve sleep quality include:

  • A relaxing, hot bath

  • Refrain from using your phone or any electronic device at least an hour before bedtime

  • A conducive environment for rest

A balanced diet that comprises a variety of fruits and vegetables enhances your intake of natural vitamins and minerals to support the regeneration of skin cells. A protein-rich diet consisting of fish, lean meats, and soy products go a long way in nourishing healthy skin.

It will be ideal to enjoy adequate and good quality sleep, along with nutritious, well-balanced meals, as a way of life. Even if this is not possible, self-care and your own well-being should always remain your primary focus. Treat yourself to a pampering spa session every now and then, or a weekly facial mask regime to replenish lost moisture and restore tired skin as a quick pick-me-up.

Combat dryness during the summer months with a cleansing toner. Use a cotton pad soaked in toner, gently wipe across your face to remove excessive sebum (oily secretions). Not only is it an excellent way to cool off, but it also helps with minimizing dryness to the skin. When winter comes round, use a lotion or cream that is richer in texture, as this will allow the skin to lock in moisture and protect it from the dry environment.

Not treating or taking care of dry skin will result in rough skin and premature aging. It is very important to have proper and adequate moisturization to keep the skin healthy and hydrated throughout the day.

To ensure your skin remains healthy and supple, always use products that provide excellent moisturization care!

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Yumi Narasaki

Renowned Beauty Writer

As a beauty and cosmetics writer, Ms. Narasaki is actively involved in research in this field, with a special interest in how cutting-edge technology and new trends shape this industry. Ms. Narasaki is part of the editorial team for top Japanese publication, VOCE, and is a prolific online contributor to beauty-centric websites. She has also authored several publications in the field of beauty. In her spare time, Ms. Narasaki enjoys spending time outdoors and in particular, camping.