I’m by no means a skincare expert but I’d like to share some tips and tricks I’ve learned over time for dealing with my dry, flaky skin.
1. The one product that’s made the biggest difference in my skin actually isn’t anything topical but one that’s ingested: fish oil pills.
Even though I drank tons of water, ate lots of fruits and veggies, and had fish at least three times a week my skin always remained extremely dry and flaky. Three months ago I started taking fish oil pills and they’ve really made a visible difference in the condition of my skin. I’m no longer as dry as I used to be and my skin and even my hair look healthier and more luminous. In fact these days I feel like I’m more in the “normal to dry” skin category than the “very dry skin” category.
Even better, my pores aren’t as clogged anymore. People think that only oily skin gets blackheads but it happens to dry skin too. An excess of flaky, dead skin trapped in the pores with dirt and sebum results in clogged pores and blackheads. Cleansing and exfoliation are essential to prevent a buildup of dry, dead skin but when your skin is always dry, it isn’t a good idea to cleanse and exfoliate too frequently either as it can be quite damaging. That’s where the fish oil pills come in; rather than working externally on the skin’s surface, the fish oil pills work internally to reduce dryness and improve skin texture.
You can purchase fish oil pills over the counter at any drugstore or supermarket. I bought a twin-pack (400 gel caps) from Walmart for $6. Right now I’m using the 1000 mg kind because they were on sale. I take three pills a day (as instructed on the label) and they work well but I used the 1200 mg pills prior to that and saw even better results. As long as it says Omega-3 on the bottle it’ll work.
2. Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream (Fragrance Free) as a face primer. Yes, I said face primer. I reviewed it a few months back solely as a hand cream and was very impressed by it but since then I’ve tried using it on my face and it’s worked wonderfully.
I first read about using the hand cream as a face primer in the review section of MakeupAlley. Several people had tried it under their foundation and it apparently kept their skin hydrated and flake-free throughout the day. Well, I was intrigued and gave it a try. Since then it’s become my Holy Grail face primer for dry skin.
As I mentioned in my review, the texture is very strange. It’s very thick and feels like Vaseline upon application. When I rub it, the Norwegian Formula Hand Cream turns from clear to white and then clear again as it’s absorbed. It feels a little sticky as first but after a minute it completely sinks into the skin leaving no residue behind.
Although it looks and feels like Vaseline initially, there’s no petrolatum in the Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream at all. It’s actually a glycerin-rich product. Glyercin, as you know, is a humectant that attracts water to the skin and helps keep it hydrated. It was designed to keep dry, cracked hands moisturized but it’s fabulous as a face primer for dry skin too.
As a face primer, I use about a pea-sized drop of the hand cream after I moisturize my face and before applying foundation. It really keeps my skin hydrated and my makeup looking fresh throughout the day.
A 2 oz tube costs $4-$6 at the drugstore.
3. I purchased a bottle of Paula’s Choice AHA 8% Gel Exfoliant during Beauty.com’s Friends & Family event and I’ve been using it ever since I got it in the mail. I love it! It’s fast absorbing, there are no harsh abrasives involved, and it delivers excellent results. I use it every other night and it keeps my flakes to a minimum and my skin smooth. Now I only need to use a face scrub once every two weeks.
4. Most people probably already know this but always apply face and body moisturizer to damp skin.
I shower in the mornings and as soon as I step out of the shower I lightly blot my face but still keep it a little damp and apply moisturizer right away. I do the same with my body and body lotion. Moisturizers just seem to absorb better and work more effectively when applied to damp skin compared to bone dry skin.
5. Apply Vaseline on top of face moisturizer before going to bed. I know that there are lots of anti-petrolatum people out there so this might be controversial but I’ve always been a Vaseline fan and it’s worked well for me.
Have you ever left a plate of sliced apples out on the counter? Unless you cover it with plastic wrap, after a few hours the fruit begins to shrivel and dry out from being exposed to the air. Well, Vaseline is sort of like that plastic wrap; it doesn’t do anything to hydrate the skin but it serves as a protective barrier by sealing in the moisture that’s already in your skin and the creams/serums you’ve applied to it.
In the past, no matter how much cream I slathered on at night I’d always wake up to dry, flaky skin. But that problem’s been eliminated ever since adding Vaseline to my nighttime skincare regimen. I just have to make sure I cleanse my face well in the morning to remove the Vaseline residue.
Finally, I wanted to mention a product that didn’t work for me.
1. Natural Oils as Moisturizer (e.g. Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Jojoba Oil, etc.)
On their own, natural oils simply aren’t sufficiently moisturizing for very dry skin. Sure, the skin feels great when the oils are first applied but after about five minutes my skin feels dry and tight again. I need ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, glycerin, petrolatum and/or wax to bind moisture to the skin and keep it hydrated over an extended period of time. Oils alone just aren’t enough.