My Skin Type Journey II: Dry skin

My Skin Type Journey II: Dry skin

Keina Yuan 
K-Beauty Editor

To my fellow dry skin friends, 
Winter is definitely not our thing. Well, sweaters and hoodies are cute, but I know none of us dig the dry, taut, flakiness of our skin in the winter. 
Fortunately, I’ve got some tips on how to get through the year regardless of the season!

But firstly,

what is dry skin?

Dry skin is when the skin produces less oil and sebum naturally due various factors like genetics and the weather. Due to the lack of production of oils, the skin is then unable to protect itself from external stressors. 
This often results in the tight feeling throughout the day and you might notice some redness or flakiness. Your skin tends to be rough and dull as well. 
On a plus side, your pores are almost invisible! 
In more severe cases, dryness of the skin can lead to conditions such as contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis.

Contact Dermatitis
When your skin reacts to something it touches or is applied onto Inflammation redness and itching.

Seborrheic Dermatitis
OILY SKIN - overproduction of oils due to dehydration

Atopic Dermatitis
Eczema - a chronic skin condition which causes dry scaly skin patches to appear (common places include neck, face, popliteal fossa, cubital fossa, between fingers and on knuckles)


The main causes and reasons for dry skin are genetics, hormones, the weather and stress. These factors result in a minimised production of sebum from the sebaceous glands hence causing the skin’s natural barrier to become compromised. 
Our‌ skin’s barrier is made up of two special‌ ‌mechanisms‌‌, the‌ ‌‌acid‌ ‌mantle‌ ‌‌and‌ ‌the‌ ‌‌lipid‌ ‌barrier.‌

The‌ ‌acid‌ ‌mantle‌ ‌is‌ ‌a‌ ‌very‌ ‌thin‌ ‌film‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌surface‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌skin‌ ‌composed‌ ‌of‌ ‌a‌ ‌mixture‌ ‌of‌ ‌fatty‌ ‌acids,‌ ‌‌sebum‌,‌ ‌mixed‌ ‌with‌ ‌lactic‌ ‌acid‌ ‌and‌ ‌amino‌ ‌acids‌ ‌from‌ ‌natural‌ ‌oils,‌ ‌or‌ ‌‌sweat‌.‌ ‌This‌ ‌mysterious,‌ ‌invisible‌ ‌barrier‌ ‌protects‌ ‌the‌ ‌skin‌ ‌against‌ ‌bacteria,‌ ‌potential‌ ‌contaminants‌ ‌and‌ ‌anything‌ ‌else‌ ‌which‌ ‌might‌ ‌penetrate‌ ‌and‌ ‌damage‌ ‌the‌ ‌skin‌ ‌(which‌ ‌funnily‌ ‌enough‌ ‌happen‌ ‌to‌ ‌be‌ ‌naturally‌ ‌alkaline).‌ ‌ ‌

The‌ ‌lipid‌ ‌barrier‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌other‌ ‌hand‌ ‌is‌ ‌also‌ ‌known‌ ‌as‌ ‌the‌ ‌moisture‌ ‌barrier.‌ ‌While‌ ‌the‌ ‌acid‌ ‌mantle‌ ‌keeps‌ ‌the‌ ‌bad‌ ‌stuff‌ ‌away,‌ ‌the‌ ‌lipid‌ ‌barrier‌ ‌keeps‌ ‌the‌ ‌good‌ ‌stuff‌ ‌in.‌ ‌Basically,‌ ‌it‌ ‌binds‌ ‌dead‌ ‌skin‌ ‌cells‌ ‌together‌ ‌with‌ ‌a‌ ‌combination‌ ‌of‌ ‌ceramides,‌ ‌cholesterol,‌ ‌free‌ ‌fatty‌ ‌acids‌ ‌and‌ ‌of‌ ‌course‌ ‌lipids,‌ ‌in‌ ‌fact‌ ‌the‌ ‌body‌ ‌actually‌ ‌naturally‌ ‌produces‌ ‌all‌ ‌of‌ ‌these.‌ ‌This‌ ‌layer‌ ‌lies‌ ‌just‌ ‌underneath‌ ‌the‌ ‌‘acid‌ ‌mantle’‌ ‌and‌ ‌is‌ ‌crucial‌ ‌for‌ ‌moisture‌ ‌retention.‌ ‌ ‌

The‌ ‌skin’s‌ ‌moisture‌ ‌relies‌ ‌on‌ ‌two‌ ‌types‌ ‌of‌ ‌water‌ ‌loss:‌ ‌Perspiration,‌ ‌and‌ ‌transepidermal‌ ‌water‌ ‌loss‌ ‌called TEWL (refer to figure below).‌

Perspiration‌ ‌or‌ ‌‘sweating’‌ ‌is‌ ‌an‌ ‌active‌ ‌process‌ ‌where‌ ‌the‌ ‌nerves‌ ‌react‌ ‌to‌ ‌changes‌ ‌in‌ ‌your‌ ‌body‌ ‌temperature.‌ ‌This‌ ‌change‌ ‌can‌ ‌be‌ ‌due‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌weather,‌ ‌exercise,‌ ‌stress‌ ‌and‌ ‌more.

TEWL‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌other‌ ‌hand‌ ‌is‌ ‌the‌ ‌natural,‌ ‌passive‌ ‌diffusion‌ ‌of‌ ‌water‌ ‌through‌ ‌the‌ ‌skin.‌ ‌ ‌
*fun‌ ‌fact:‌ ‌we‌ ‌lose‌ ‌approximately‌ ‌300‌ ‌-‌ ‌400mL‌ ‌of‌ ‌water‌ ‌per‌ ‌day‌ ‌through‌ ‌TEWL*

Now, when both the acid mantle and the lipid barrier aren’t functioning properly, that is when we run into problems like excessive moisture loss 

(TEWL in overdrive), and the tightness of the skin due to the lack of lubrication from sebum. So that is the dryness from the skin’s inability to retain the moisture, or sensitivity due to the lack of protection from external stressors.


Try not to wash your face with hot water and harsh soaps. Hot water actually strips the natural oils and moisture from your skin, drying it out more. In addition, harsh soaps tend to be very alkaline, hence drying out the skin even more. 
To combat this, use a cleanser with a lower pH (more acidic) as it is much closer to your skin’s natural pH. This means it won't strip the skin as much and you won't have to work as hard to replenish the skin barrier’s pH. Lukewarm water will also be much gentler on the skin. It will still be warm enough to open your pores and get all the gunk out, but not too hot so it won’t be taking away any of the natural moisture from inside the skin’s layers. 
Don’t be afraid of exfoliating! This will help to remove excess dead skin cells and promote skin cell turnover to brighten up the skin's complexion. However, we recommend you use chemical or enzymatic exfoliants like glycolic acid (an AHA), gluconolactone (a PHA), and pineapple or papaya (enzymatic exfoliants).


Humectants: like hyaluronic acid, glycerin and active marine ingredients. These attract water to the skin and help to hold onto the hydration by binding to the water.

Emollients: fll in, smooth and soften the skin to allow for more effective hydration. They also prevent water loss. These include squalene, allantoin and various fatty acids.

Occlusivesthese include ceramides, cocoa butter, and various mineral oils. Occlusives help to form a film on the surface of the skin to prevent moisture loss. They also help to rebuild and strengthen the skin's barrier 

AHAs and PHAs: These are gentle chemical exfoliants for dead skin cells. PHAs include gluconolactone and lactobionic acid. Common AHAs are glycolic acid, lactic acid and citric acid.

Enzymatic exfoliants: are substances or chemicals which break down the glue that holds the dead, dull, skin cells together. These are most commonly found in fruits like pineapple and papaya (as mentioned above) and even pumpkin.


Propolis: has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties plus is rich in nutrients. Propolis promotes soothing, healing and the repair of the skin.

Allantoin: a non-irritating ingredient which has soothing, healing and emollient properties. It is one of the best ingredients for all skin types including those with sensitivity as it has very strong calming and healing properties. 

Antioxidants: antioxidants are an all-rounder ingredient and are found in many different ingredients. Antioxidants promote skin cell turnover, they neutralise free radicals and provide some nutrients for the skin. Free radicals are harmful molecules that accumulate in the body and especially in the skin and are caused by drinking, smoking, harmful UV rays, and even unhealthy foods which are high in preservatives. By neutralizing these, the skin is able to become more radiant and healthier.

By promoting an increased rate of skin cell turnover, antioxidants improve blood circulation as well. This in turn helps to increase collagen and elastin production to keep the skin supple. Plus, the extra boost of nutrients antioxidants provides also help the skin to become more supple, moist and radiant. 

Some antioxidant rich ingredients are:

  • Green tea
  • Vitamin C
  • Glutathione
  • Blueberries
  • Retinol 


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