Dry skin occurs when there is an imbalance of oil and moisture to keep it supple and healthy. The oil produced by our sebaceous glands lubricates the surface of the skin and prevents excessive moisture loss through evaporation, while the 'moisture' is water in the cells, which keeps them 'plumped-up' and looking young.
When we are young 'ordinary' dry skin can occur through a lack of natural oils, whilst when we age dry skin is more 'complex' and is lacking both oil and moisture. Ageing also means a reduction in the amount of elastin, collagen and keratin (proteins that make up the skin) we produce. 'Premature' ageing is caused by overexposure to sunlight, which damages these proteins.
Dry skin can be hereditary but it can be caused or made worse by poor bowel health and poor nutrition, harsh weather (sun, wind and cold), chemicals, cosmetics, or excessive washing with harsh soaps. Deficiencies in vitamin A and the B vitamins can also cause dry and cracked skin.
DIETARY & LIFESTYLE ADVICE:
• Keeping to a healthy diet is important for all skin problems.
• Try to avoid coffee, alcohol, fried foods, animal fats, fizzy drinks, sugar, chocolate and other junk food.
• Consume two litres of filtered or bottled water at room temperature every day to keep the skin well hydrated.
• Ensure that you have regular bowel movements - a sign that your digestion is healthy and you are absorbing nutrients well. You should ideally have one bowel movement for each meal that you eat and anything less than this can be considered as mild constipation - see Constipation for information.
• Increase the amount of omega 3 essential fatty acids in your diet through foods and supplementation (see Supplements below). Fatty fish (organic salmon, mackerel, fresh tuna and herring), linseeds and flaxseeds are high in omega 3.
• If your skin is chapped or cracked increase your intake of water and essential fatty acids even more.
• Extremely low-fat diets are not a healthy option because the body needs fat, however if you are on this type of diet it is crucial that you still have essential fatty acids. Supplement your diet with omega 3 as mentioned and add one or two tablespoons of cold-pressed olive oil to your daily diet.
• Increase your intake of vitamin A - this strengthens and protects the skin tissue. Beta-carotene is a vegetarian source which is converted into vitamin A within the body as required. Eat plenty of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables including carrots, watercress, squash, sweet potato, tomatoes, mango, apricots, melon, papaya, pumpkin, cabbage and broccoli - all the 'rainbow' foods.
• Increase your intake of sulphur - foods such as organic eggs, onions and garlic are rich in sulphur, which is important for healthy, young-looking skin.
• Humidify the air in your home and at work either with a humidifier or by standing containers of water above or near to radiators. If any of this is impractical at work plants add moisture to the air.
• Spray moisturising mists on your skin throughout the day (see Skincare below).
• Bathe or shower only as needed - water is very drying.
• Remove the chlorine from your bath water with De-chlorinating Bath Crystals or the Crystal Ball Bath Dechlorinator, and from your shower by fixing a shower-head filter.
• Use warm, not hot, water.
• Protect hands from water by using lined rubber gloves.
• Use only natural soaps and washes for gentle cleansing (see Skincare below).
• Try to moisturise after bathing when your skin is damp, to trap additional moisture.
• Keep moisturiser by the sink to use each time you dry your hands.
SUPPLEMENTS FOR HEALTHY SKIN:
NB. Children's dosages: unless otherwise stated children can take an age-appropriate dose of recommended supplements; for children over 17 give the recommended adult dose below; children from 12 to 17 give three-quarters of the adult dose; children from 6 to 12 years give half the adult dose; children from four to six years give one-quarter of the adult dose; children under 4 years use only products specifically for children as stated, or see a registered naturopath or nutritionist.
Essential Fatty Acids - provide a source of 'good' oils and are important for healthy skin. Try either the 'MorEPA' or 'Lemon Fish Oil', or the 'Flax Oil Complex' if you prefer a vegetarian source of omega 3. If you have chronic dryness and your skin is chapped or cracked increase the doses of these essential fatty acids to twice per day.
Borage/Starflower oil (omega 6) contains high levels of GLA (higher then Evening Primrose Oil) another essential fatty acid that helps to support healthy skin. It is important to allow at least three months for proper absorption and therefore to see improvement.
To add extra omega 3 to your diet on a daily basis try 'FortiFlax' (ground flaxseeds) which can be easily sprinkled onto food such as cereals and salads - see Essential Fatty Acids for all these supplements.
Younger children who need a smaller capsule can take the 'MorEPA Mini' or add the 'Lemon Fish Oil' or the flax oil to their food. Liquid formulas such as 'SmartStart Orange', 'Omega Swirl Lemon Zest' and 'EskimoKids' taste delicious and can be taken directly off the spoon - see Essential Fatty Acids for Babies & Children.
NB. All recommended fish oil supplements have much higher and therefore more beneficial levels of EPA and DHA than most high street brands, are guaranteed to be free from contaminants such as heavy metals and PCBs or dioxins, and are exceptionally stable guaranteeing freshness and no fishy smell or aftertaste.
Multi-vitamin - this is essential to ensure that you get good levels of all the main nutrients important for healthy skin. Initially try 'Ultra Skin Plus' the specially formulated skin supplement with glucosamine (from fish) and MSM as well as therapeutic levels of vitamins A, B, C, E & zinc and selenium. Vegetarians can use the 'Ultra Skin' formula with the option of adding vegetarian 'MSM' separately - see Hair Skin & Nails for these supplements.
Younger children can take an age-appropriate dose of these supplements or use formulas specifically for children - see Multi-Vitamins for Babies & Children. If you are pregnant see For Pregnancy for prenatal formulas.
Long-term take a good multi-vitamin all year round for long-term health and wellbeing - see Multi-Vitamins.
Collagen - from the age of thirty our body's supply of collagen depletes. 'Active Marine Collagen Drink' provides a daily dose of pure marine collagen with hyaluronic acid and vitamin C - simply add to juice. To support firmer, younger-looking facial tissue from within try taking 'Collagen Restructuring Complex' which has been formulated to deliver collagen and specific supporting nutrients (such as aloe vera, chlorophyll and horsetail) to the skin - see Anti-Ageing. This complex can be taken alongside the Ultra Skin Plus supplement (as above) and is best used in conjunction with 'Collagen Creme Serum' - see Age Protection in skincare.
Zinc - this is needed in the metabolism of fatty acids. If you are not taking the Ultra Skin Plus skin supplement (as above), then ensure you are getting sufficient zinc (50mg a day). Adults take just 1 a day of the 'Dyno-Mins Zinc 50mg' tablets - see Minerals. For younger children see Minerals for Babies & Children.
NB. If you are taking doses of zinc in excess of 100 mg daily that can cause dry skin so reduce that amount. Do not take zinc at the same time as consuming citrus fruits or juices - it reduces its effectiveness.
Vitamin B complex - B vitamins are needed for healthy skin and during stress. If you are not taking the Ultra Skin Plus skin supplement (as above), then ensure you are getting extra B vitamins. Adults take just one a day of the sustained release 'Mega B-150' or use a 50mg formula and take one capsule three times a day - see Vitamins. Children over five can use the 'Junior B Complex' - see Vitamins for Babies & Children.
Vitamin C - adults can take 3000-5000mg a day in divided doses to support healthy capilliaries - follow the Vitamin links above.
NB. All these vitamin C supplements are buffered so as to be gentle on the stomach, and are combined with bioflavonoids for maximum effectiveness.
Kelp - taking 1000-1500mg of kelp daily provides a balance of minerals for healthy skin tone - see Whole Foods & Superfoods
Grape Seed Extract - this contains high levels of Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins (OPC’s or PCO’s) and is a powerful antioxidant which can reduce the damage done by free radicals. PCO's help protect the skin from ultraviolet radiation damage that leads to wrinkles and skin cancer - see Hair Skin & Nails.
SKIN CARE FOR DRY SKIN:
All the skincare products available for dry skin are 100% natural, and are uniquely and gently formulated to deeply moisturise, regenerate and firm the skin, increase elasticity, reduce skin tension, improve skin tone and texture, and improve overall skin health. All products are free from chemicals.
Please contact us for specific advice
NB. This information is in no way intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are unsure as to the suitability of any of the products or recommendations with regard to your condition please consult your doctor. If your doctor does not approve of complementary medicine it may be helpful to find one who does.