How is my damaged skin restored

Protection and care of dry and sensitive skin

Care for dry and sensitive skin

Dry skin requires special cleaning and care. Otherwise the skin will continue to lose moisture and elasticity, become increasingly rough and brittle and not be adequately protected from environmental influences.

Healthy skin that is not exposed to long-term stress can often regenerate itself. Dry, sensitive or previously damaged skin needs support. With the right, daily skin care we can promote the regeneration of the skin barrier, improve the oil and moisture content of the skin and prevent permanent skin damage. The use of unsuitable skin cleansing and care products can, however, worsen the condition of the skin and also damage originally healthy skin. When choosing care products and measures, it is therefore important to observe some basic rules.

Care products for dry and sensitive skin

Care products that have been specially developed for dry and sensitive skin are intended to compensate for the lack of fat and moisture, restore the suppleness of the skin, improve its barrier function and protect against further dehydration. The type of preparation and the composition of the ingredients and care substances are decisive for the effectiveness of the product.

When choosing the care product, the texture and special properties of the skin area to be cared for also play a role. A cream that is ideal for dry facial skin is not necessarily suitable for the care of the hands or feet. Because the skin on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet is particularly low in fat.
Skin care

The basis of every skin cream is a mixture of fat and water. An essential criterion for whether a product is better or less suitable for the care of dry skin is the distribution of the fat and water components. Certain auxiliaries are required so that these per se immiscible components can form a bond. These auxiliaries are called emulsifiers or surfactants, and the mixture is the emulsion.

Emulsions with a high fat content are particularly suitable for caring for dry skin. They form a light film of fat on the skin and prevent the skin's own moisture from being released to the outside. At the same time, they supply the horny layer with fat. This protects the skin from drying out and rough, flaky skin becomes more elastic again.

The use of pure fatty ointments without water content can usually not be recommended. This is especially true if the dry skin is prone to eczema or shows signs of inflammation. While the fatty film on the skin is permeable to air in water-based emulsions and allows the skin to achieve a slight heat balance, a pure fatty ointment blocks this regulation. A build-up of heat can develop, which has an inflammatory effect.

The decisive factor for the effectiveness of a care product is not just its fat content, but also the fat that is used as the basis. Every oil and every fat is characterized by the composition of its fatty acids, which have different properties. The fatty acid structure of natural fats and oils, such as almond oil or shea butter, is very similar to the fatty acid structure of the skin. The skin can therefore absorb these natural fats particularly well.

Skin cleansing
Composition of skin care products

The components of the care products can be assigned to three groups of substances: basic substances that are intended to compensate for the lack of fat and water, active substances that increase the caring and protective properties (e.g. moisturizing factors, vitamins, light protection components) and auxiliary substances that, among other things, are responsible for consistency, color, fragrance and shelf life.

Every washing and cleaning of the skin removes its fat and moisturizing factors. For dry skin that already has a damaged skin barrier, this means an additional burden. For this reason, only those products are suitable for cleaning dry skin that do not impair the barrier function, the water-binding capacity and the protective acid mantle of the horny layer, or only impair it as little as possible. Even water attacks the protective skin coat, so dry skin has to be re-greased after washing.

Since not all dirt that accumulates on the skin can simply be rinsed off with water, skin cleansers are used. The washing-active substances (surfactants) contained in these agents ensure that fat and dirt particles that adhere to the body can dissolve more easily in water. The big disadvantage is that they degrease the skin at the same time.

PH value

The pH value indicates the degree of acidity in aqueous solutions. The scale ranges from pH 0 for strongly acidic solutions to pH 14 for strongly alkaline solutions. Water has a neutral value of pH 7, the protective acid mantle of healthy skin has a pH value between 4 and 6.5.

The extent to which a cleaning agent attacks the skin depends largely on the composition and type of the active washing substances and the pH value of the product. The skin is best protected when the natural pH value of the skin is not or only slightly affected. Conventional soap with a pH value between 8 and 11 is therefore not suitable for cleaning dry skin. PH-neutral soaps or liquid cleaning agents (syndets), which are available as washing emulsions, washing lotions, washing and bath gels or shower baths, are better. Some products contain additives and fat components in order to re-oil the skin. Syndets with a high proportion of lipid replenishing substances are usually referred to as washing or shower cream or shower oil.

General recommendations for choosing suitable care products

Skin care products should always be chosen very carefully. If you suffer from dry and sensitive skin, you should have particularly high quality requirements and find out which substances are contained in the care products.

  • Pay attention to the ingredients! According to the Cosmetics Ordinance, these must be listed on the packaging in the order in which they are concentrated.
  • Care products for sensitive and dry skin should only contain a few, high-quality ingredients, none of which are known to be possible allergy triggers.
  • Particularly high demands are made on the ingredients of baby care products. These products are therefore also suitable for sensitive adult skin.
  • Choose products that have been dermatologically tested and rated by experts as being particularly tolerable.
  • The products should be free from allergenic fragrances, preservatives and colorings.
  • Some care products cannot do without preservatives entirely. If these substances are required, they must be kept to a minimum.
  • The care products can be based on vegetable oils or cosmetic paraffin oil. A general recommendation for one or the other type of oil cannot be made. The decision should be made individually, if necessary after consulting a dermatologist.