Drying and protecting your skin - why and how? What makes our hands dry? How can we do something about it? Let's take a closer look at the delicate surface of our hands and protect them in our daily lives!
During the first few months of the year, you may often notice that your hands feel uncomfortable, itchy, dry and sometimes even sore - without physically hurting them. This is when we rush out to buy thicker hand creams and protective gloves. March arrives, but our hands are still dry and uncomfortable, even though we diligently lubricate them every day - why? Let's take a closer look!
Our skin consists of 3 main layers that work together to keep its surface soft and silky. The dividing skin cells produced in the lowest layer of the skin migrate upwards, becoming thinner and thinner, so that every 21-28 days our skin is completely renewed. Other types of cells, including the keratinocytes (the cells that produce keratin protein) in the dermis, also help to divide. When they reach the top, scabby layer of the skin, the cells detach and fall away from the skin's surface. This is where creams first enter and where they have most of their effect. So when this layer thickens on the surface of the skin, it can feel hard and drier to the touch.
The two elements that also determine the softness of the skin are water and lipids (i.e. fat) on the surface. The lipids are deposited on the surface alongside the hair follicles in a separate small passage, forming a protective layer. As you'll notice, there is less hair on our hands - evidence of the lack of lipids compared to the rest of the skin. This makes this area more sensitive and unprotected.
The cold air and windy weather clearly damage the top layer of the skin, as the cells that are deposited here are more quickly destroyed. The dying skin cells, which are bound together by natural substances produced in the skin called NMFs (moisture-retaining factors), are torn away from the keratin filaments in the skin cell by the cold air, leaving a burning, itchy sensation.
There are several other causes of drying of the skin of the hands during this period. Frequent hand washing and disinfecting can upset the pH of the skin and remove the small amount of natural oil that protects the surface. Alcohol-based products, including alcohol itself, have a dehydrating effect. Many people don't realise it, but the hardness of water also affects the softness and health of the skin. Hard water contains salts that irritate the skin and have a drying effect. And soap and harder water are known to produce tartar, so frequent hand washing, while it doesn't leave tartar stuck to the top of the hand, can be harmful to the skin.
How to prevent your hands from drying out?
One thing is clear: look for the right hand creams and balms. In winter, it is also advisable to protect your hands from the cold air - not just with gloves. In today's world, many people are wary of paraffin-containing products, and for good reason. Its harmful effects on nature have triggered a monumental development in the cosmetics industry, with paraffin derivatives being completely removed from creams, but fast-absorbing creams are no help against the cold. The paraffinic substance is not absorbed into the skin and forms an oily film on the surface, protecting it from external agents such as weather, chemicals and disinfectants. However, this substance can damage the health of the skin on surfaces other than the stressed extremities of our bodies, instead of caring for it. With frequent use of paraffin, the skin becomes accustomed to constant protection, allowing cells to draw water from deeper layers for maintenance. If it doesn't get to the surface, the skin almost forgets how to function. By the time it learns again, it can take up to a month, a full skin renewal cycle. Paraffin and its derivatives can be found in varying concentrations in most hand care products that can be found on the shelves of drugstores and pharmacies.
Formulations that do not contain paraffin often contain shea butter and other natural ingredients with a higher iron content. However, these beneficial substances are fully absorbed into thirsty and dry skin within a few hours, binding water and starting the hydration process. And we keep lubricating our hands, hoping that the sensation will last longer.
The best choice is a formulation that is specially formulated for winter, which means it contains both ingredients that are not harmful to the environment in small quantities but that protect the skin's surface, and deeper-penetrating moisturising agents. Unfortunately, our skin can become stretched and tight until the warm air of late spring, but daily care can help prevent and maintain hydration levels. It's recommended to apply at least three times a day, with a pea-sized amount in the morning and during the day, and a larger amount in the evening before bed. During the night, the skin continues to function smoothly, giving time for thicker, mask-like creams to penetrate deeper.
For decades, Caola's products have included nourishing and protective creams. A soothing hand cream with calendula extract, Caola Hand Balm is a pleasantly textured product that meets our basic hydration needs and helps keep our hands feeling good every day.
Look for the product at our partners and take care of your skin this season!