Follow our expert’s advice for moisturised and deeply hydrated skin.
We’re all spending much more time indoors than we usually do, making the drying effects of central heating even more dehydrating. The outermost layer of the skin, the lipid layer, needs to be protected to create a barrier that stops natural moisture from escaping, explains dermatologist Victoria Pugh.
Dermatologist Dr Sharon Wong adds that another reason skin becoming drier as we get older is that, with increasing age, the body starts to produce less, and lower quality, hyaluronic acid. This results in dehydrated skin, explains Dr Wong, skincare expert for Hada Labo Tokyo, Japan’s top-selling skincare brand. To keep skin looking healthy, smooth and supple, we need to add hydration and it’s important to realise that a moisturiser alone will not do that particular job.
Hyaluronic acid is the wonder ingredient in many of today’s top-selling moisturisers, but Dr Wong explains that, for optimum moisturisation, it’s important that different sizes of molecules are used. As large molecules only work on the surface of the skin, scientists have found ways of making the molecules smaller so they can work deeper into the skin.
Hada Labo Tokyo’s Anti-Aging Super Hydrator Lotion* £16.95 available from Amazon, contains four types of hyaluronic acid, along with anti-ageing favourites collagen and retinol.
Filaggrin is a protein which helps to hydrate skin from the inside out – and also helps to maintain the skin’s natural barrier which provides a shield against pollution and other skin irritants and retains essential hydration.
Thanks to research by renowned skin biologist Dr Neil Gibbs of Manchester University, an exciting new food supplement – pellamex – has been developed to help skin cells make filaggrin.
Research carried out during the development of pellamex found that adults with eczema had a 40% improvement in their skin over an eight-week period. “Seriously impressive effects,” said Professor Mike Cork, Professor of Dermatology of the University of Sheffield. A one-month supply of pellamex £49.99.
Found in oily fish and seeds such as flax, hemp and linseed, Omega 3 essential fatty acids provide a host of skincare benefits. Omega 3 essential fatty acids help the skin function as a watertight protective barrier, explains GP and medical nutritionist Dr Sarah Brewer.
Nutritionist Rob Hobson agrees. “Including foods which contain these essential fatty acids in your daily diet can help maintain healthy skin”, says Rob, who is Head of Nutrition at Healthspan. And if you don’t feel you’re getting enough Omega 3, Healthspan Opti-Omega 3* £13.95 contains high levels of these fatty acids.
The drop in oestrogen which comes with the menopause often triggers dryness – dry skin, dry eyes and a dry vagina.
Sometimes it seems as if everything is drying out, admits Alison Cullen, Nutritional Practitioner and A. Vogel Health Educator. She recommends drinking lots of water, as it can reduce the dehydrating effect of falling oestrogen and also helps keep skin looking plump and youthful.
And if you find that your skin becomes itchy after eating foods high in sugar or salt, Alison suggests having a cup of nettle tea. “Nettle is a lovely, gentle, natural antihistamine,” she says. If you don’t fancy nettle tea, try having a nettle tincture such as A. Vogel Stinging Nettle £10.50 two or three times a day.
“Vaginal dryness is a common sign of the menopause,” says Dr Shree Datta, inhouse gynaecologist with intimate wellbeing brand INTIMINA UK. This can result in the skin around the vaginal opening becoming irritated, sore or itchy.
Intimina Feminine Moisturizer £6.95 is a water-based solution enriched with aloe vera to supplement the body’s natural moisture in this intimate area. To further nourish and moisturise the delicate skin around the vagina (and the nose and eyes), try taking one or two capsules of Healthspan Omega 7 Sea Buckthorn Oil* £16.95 every day.
If your skin feels tight after cleansing, swap to a gentle cleanser, perhaps an oil-based formula or a creamy, ultra-mild cleanser. Wash-off cleansers can aggravate dryness and leave your skin feeling tight, warns skin therapist Nataliya Robinson.
Exfoliate regularly to remove the dead skin cells and flaky skin that can prevent moisturiser being absorbed properly – and treat yourself to a weekly, rehydrating face mask. Also, adds Nataliya, if your skin is dry and flaky, massage the contents of a good quality vitamin E capsule into the affected area.
And if you have a particularly dry, itchy or painful area of skin, cosmetic nurse Julie Brackenbury recommends applying a rich, natural balm. Look for ingredients such as sweet almond oil, shea butter or cocoa butter, advises Julie.
For itching sensitive skin, we love Trio Therapeutics Extra Sensitive Deeply Calming Oil for Itchy Skin £55.00 available from EF Skin.
Itchy skin can be a sign of an over-stressed liver, which can be triggered by a menopausal hormone dip. If you’re suffering from a terrible itch and also have digestive problems such as constipation or indigestion, destress your liver with A. Vogel Milk Thistle Complex £10.50. You could also cut out coffee and go on a liver-friendly diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and a few healthy grains, suggests Alison Cullen of A. Vogel.