Today everyone seems to have dry skin, but what do we mean by it?
Do we mean skin which has a disease problem or skin which is suffering from being over-washed, or skin which is exposed to drying conditions with their inevitable consequences?
Possibly all three!
Dry skin tends to itch. Moisturisers provide an film that limits water loss by evaporation from the skin and helps to make the outermost layer of the skin the stratum corneum softer and more pliable. These cells are tightly packed together with skin oils acting as a water resistant buffer between them, giving the flat rigid cells the ability to flex away from each other and not form a rigid sheet. Together these two elements form a flexible waterproof barrier that maintains water within the skin. The leaching out of lubricant oils causes the the barrier function to fail and the skin becomes vulnerable resulting in irritation and itching.results.
Low pH moisturisers are particularly helpful in restoring the skin barrier function by maintaining the acidic pH of the skin’s surface and reducing the irritative effects of pruritus. Application of a moisturiser throughout the day, particularly immediately after bathing, helps lock moisture in the skin. To be effective, these products must be applied liberally — often up to 3 times daily.
All Marble Hill creams are exclusively composed of low pH Plant oils which are ideal for helping to maintain healthy conditioned skin. Because they are so gentle and effective they may beused as often as you wish without any anxieties about chemical additives ,preservatives or chemical fragrances whch often cause allergies.
When I was a child in the 50’s and60’s the only thing in most bathrooms was a bar of soap and Dad’s shaving tackle. Posh houses had Pear’s Soap or Cusson’s Imperial Leather ( do you remember peeling off the little label?) but usually a bar of Palmolive or Wright’s Coal Tar was the norm.
Fast forward to today : how many bathrooms are stuffed with different products, not just styling gels and sprays but wash products. Shower gels, 2-in-1 wash and shampoos exfoliators, you name it.
But most prominent of all a big bottle of moisturiser.
The sales of moisturisers really took off after the introduction of liquid “soaps” These products, are “syndets” synthetic detergents which are easy to use, smell great and wash very thoroughly.
Often described as “dermatologist tested” or “for sensitive skin” they are everywhere. And why not? They are cheap, they do the job and they are very well advertised.
Most people would not use anything else but what they have not realized that it now takes them twice as long as before to complete their bathing routines. After drying themselves off they have to apply whole body moisturisers which take ages to dry in. The reason for this is that they have a sub-clinical level of skin dryness. They have very effieciently stripped all the oils out of their skin leaving it dry and vulnerable. Most of us are not dirty in the true sense any more. We bathe or shower daily and change our clothes very frequently as well. It is one of the worst things you can say about someone: He /she smells!
We are far more sensitive to body odours than in the past and our sensitive noses are kept happy by removing all traces of sweat ruthlessly every day. Unfortunately this often results in our natural skin oils washing away as well.
We are repeatedly told to avoid bar soaps which are described as being harsh and drying yet dermatitis was far less common back in the days when soap was widely used. Is it all due to central heating? Not all, no. There is no proven cause for the rise in dermatitis/eczema in the last thirty years but it is a fact that when sales of bar soap were high, eczema was far less common.
On the bright side these days it is possible to buy “cold process soaps” . These are soaps made in the old traditional way in which the moisturising glycerine is not siphoned off for sale to industry as it is in large scale commercial soap manufacture. Cold process soaps are often found to be beneficial for drier skins (see: Melinda Coss) and I have found that making my own soaps with this technique has brought immense benefits to my own family.
By using water from the well on our farm and combining it with specially selected plant oils I can produce a soap which is gently cleansing, free from chemical additives and highly moisturising. I blend oils which I have selected for their recognized skin benefits with spring water and because the glycerine is retained and I use 10% more oils than is required to make a simple soap, including shea butter, olive and neem my family never needs to moisturise as they used to.
Of course convenience, fragrance and cost are all factors but I personally would never go back to washing with detergent based products as they do not suit me or my family and you may well find the same once you have tried the cold process option. We produce two such soaps, The Health Scrub Bar and Neem Oil Soap, read a little about them to see if they will suit your skin but we recommend Neem Oil Soap for very dry skin. When it comes to skin cream for dry skin any of our cream based moisturisers may suffice, SheaSalve, SurgiSalve or Moisture Veil.