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If you live anywhere in Sub-Saharan Africa, your skin is at risk of dehydration and premature ageing. Why? Because of several factors, most notably sun exposure and a dry climate. But there are other causes, too, including lifestyle choices that expose your skin and cause damage.

Many people tend to assume that drinking enough water and applying a moisturising cream is enough to protect their skin. The truth is that it requires a very specific formulation and the right combination of protective measures to be properly effective.

First, though, let’s take a look at exactly what causes dry and dehydrated skin.

WHY DOES YOUR SKIN BECOME DEHYDRATED?

The outer layer of the skin, which is the first and most important barrier, is called the epidermis or stratum coreneum. Rather than a solid sheet of skin, it’s more like a fine mesh with microscopic openings in it. The layer below that is called the dermis, and when you apply moisturiser, the epidermis (the outer mesh) helps the moisture adhere to the dermis.

The key difference? Your epidermis (outer layer) is oil-based skin, but the inner layer (dermis) is water-based to help retain elastic and collagen. So, there are 2 key factors to keep in mind:

  • You need to keep the mesh (epidermis) intact to prevent moisture from escaping through it.
  • You need to penetrate the epidermis effectively to get moisture to the dermis or underlayer.

It’s easy to see, then, why skin dries out easily if the epidermis is damaged. Moisture isn’t retained, and where there’s significant skin damage, even applying moisturiser doesn’t really help dry skin. That’s why you need the right products to ensure proper protection and moisture retention.

HOW YOUR SKIN BARRIER IS DAMAGED

To prevent skin deterioration, it’s good to know what causes damage and how to prevent it. Here are some of the more common factors:

  • Unavoidably, when you age, the mesh-like epidermis becomes thinner and may begin to disintegrate over time.
  • Shaving is a culprit, too – it continually stresses the skin, often causes irritation and inflammation, and can compromise the lipid (or oil) barrier that strengthens your skin.
  • Sun exposure is something you can’t completely avoid – but it’s incredibly harmful. UV rays disrupt normal skin function and cause weakening of the barrier function.
  • Excessively dry conditions obviously cause dry skin. But excessive humidity can do the same thing, so be mindful of environmental extremes.
  • Then, there’s the pollutant factor: allergens, natural irritants, and exposure to chemicals found in everyday items.
  • Soaps and detergents are particular culprits, because of their alkalinity and prevalence of harsh chemicals. Soaps and cleansers should be pH-balanced for skin and contain natural ingredients, like the Down To Earth range.
  • Certain medications (particularly steroids) can cause significant weakening of connective tissue.
  • Stress – the illness of the 21st century – is a huge culprit, because it causes a cascade of harmful chemicals produced by the body itself.
  • And of course, certain skin conditions like severe eczema and psoriasis are detrimental to skin health.

PRACTICAL STEPS TO PREVENT DEHYDRATED SKIN

If that sounds a little overwhelming, don’t worry! Knowledge is power, and by understanding good skin function and applying a few common-sense precautions, you can make a massive difference to your skin’s health and longevity.

Here are some practical tips:

1. STRENGTHEN THE TISSUE

Step One is to strengthen the outermost layer of your skin. In a sense, you’re ‘strengthening the barrier’, which has two advantages. First, it helps keep harmful substances at bay, and second, it retains more nutrients and moisture.

The most common approach here is to apply moisturiser – usually an oil-based variety. This creates a smoother skin surface which improves the appearance of your skin and creates the sensation of moisturised skin over a period of time. But strengthening the epidermis is just as important as moisturising it – and that’s why you need to be aware of which oils are best for this.

2. CHOOSE THE RIGHT OIL COMBINATIONS

Some ingredients are better than others. For strengthening the epidermis, oils like shea butter, coconut, sunflower, and evening primrose oil are excellent. These oils don’t just moisturise – they improve the integrity of the skin’s ‘mesh’ which in turn helps keep moisture locked in more effectively.

Many commercial moisturisers don’t actually contain the right type or blend of oils to help strengthen the barrier function of the skin. For example, monounsaturated oils don’t strengthen the mesh – these oils perform other functions – and used incorrectly, may even disrupt your skin’s barrier function which can lead to dry and dehydrated skin.

3. ADD OR REPLACE SKIN MOISTURE

Once the barrier is strengthened, the next step is to moisturise the underlying layer of skin. To do this, you need to first cleanse your skin of pollutants and damaged tissue to allow proper tissue penetration by a moisturiser. Using a natural, safe cleanser like the Down To Earth Revive Cleanser is a great way to get started.

Because skincare is a daily routine, you also need to choose products that can be used consistently while supporting your skin. And there’s another aspect, too: by using natural products, you’re helping preserve the environment from continuous artificial chemical pollution. Here at Down To Earth, that’s really important to us.

4. THE 4 PILLARS OF HEALTHY LIVING

Lifestyle is one of the most important – and underrated – factors in smart skin care. Here’s what we recommend:

  • Consuming lots of fresh water, clean nutritious food, and the right supplements where appropriate.
  • Getting adequate rest, which includes not just sleep but also healthy downtime and creative relaxation.
  • Regular physical activity – whether you’re a gym enthusiast, swimmer, walker, or whatever, just do it, and do it often!
  • Manage your stress in ways that suit you best. Get out into nature. Avoid stressful news cycles and ‘doomscrolling’ on social media. Meditate, breathe, and be present.

FORMULATION MAGIC

Down to Earth offers you a range of quality natural products designed specifically to strengthen and moisturise your skin. These include:

FACIAL SKINCARE RANGE

Our Revive Skincare Pack is specifically formulated for dry and mature skin. It includes:

  • Revive Cleanser – a gentle cleanser that is perfectly pH-balanced for skin and contains specialised ingredients like jojoba esters. The components of this foaming facial gel cleanser help prevent moisture loss while cleansing, so your skin isn’t dried out or left feeling ‘tight’. Plus, this cleanser lifts and removes makeup and dirt in one easy wash – so you don’t need to use a makeup remover!
  • Revive Moisturiser contains a blend of rich oils which strengthen the outer layer of the skin over time and offer a tangible defence against dehydration. Revive is a day & night moisturiser, which enables you to support your skin’s barrier function twice a day. It also contains inulin, a prebiotic, which helps the skin’s microbiome to thrive and additionally protects the barrier skin layer. And of course, this moisturiser is non-greasy, even though it’s super-hydrating, which makes it perfect for day use and use under makeup too!

Then, there’s the Recharge Men’s Skincare Pack specifically designed to target skin that becomes dry and sensitive from shaving:

  • Recharge Face Wash & Shaving Gel is pH balanced, providing a gentle cleanse while facilitating a close shave. At the same time, it prevents excessive skin irritation and promotes skin wellness. It maintains moisture levels to prevent tightness or dryness, and the energising scent awakes the senses, imparting a fresh “ready for the day” feeling.
  • Recharge Moisturiser & Aftershave Soother contains ingredients that improve the moisture content of the skin. These include tehalose, a natural sugar, as well as the jojoba esters responsible for forming a protective barrier on top of the skin mesh to prevent moisture loss. Oils like shea, jojoba, and squalane also strengthen the barrier and prevent dry, flaky skin. Bonus feature: this moisturiser also helps reduce pore size – a common by-product of shaving.

DRY BODY SKINCARE

Of course, skincare extends beyond your face – and there’s one product that provides your body with all-over skin protection and nourishment:

Down To Earth African Potato Cream is made with amazingly nourishing natural plant oils such as coconut oil, avocado oil and evening primrose, and ensures maximum hydration and skin preservation. It feeds the skin and strengthens the skin barrier function, offering all-round protection from the elements. This cream is absolutely ideal for dry skin, including rough patches, rough elbows, cracked heels, peeling cuticles, eczema flare-ups and more!

This formulation contains ingredients with potent anti-inflammatory properties. In addition to great skincare, it also doubles up as an ointment for general discomfort in the body, like swelling, stiffness, and mild joint pain.

Ready to take your skincare to the next level?

To find out more, contact us and we’ll be happy to answer any questions and recommend a routine suited to your specific needs.

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