There’s truth and a deeper connection to the expression “dry as a snake”! Fun fact: many of the main functions that take place in the body (like heart rate, breathing, body temperature and balance) are found in the part of our brain that scientist’s refer to as our “reptilian brain”. The famous Triune Brain Theory developed by Paul MacLean shares that our reptilian brain is comprised of the brain-stem and cerebellum and, because these structures still prove to be effective for meeting the fundamental needs that keep us alive and functional, our bodies have evolved and built upon this (hello limbic system and pre-frontal cortex) rather than rebuilding from the bottom up.
The brain is not the only part of our physiological makeup that resembles that of our reptilian predecessors: our ectoderm does as well! It is believed that these inherited genes have influenced everything from how many teeth we have and what they look like, how much body hair we have (thank you very much) and how soft and sweaty our skin is. Does that mean there was a cute little lizard walking around 3,000 years ago with an overrbite and hyperpigmentation? Absolutely…. not! However, we have inherited the genes that give us our dermis, multiple layers of dead skin cells which forms a watertight barrier around the body, from our evolutionary saga millions of years ago. Though, unlike reptiles, our skin has special glands, sebaceous glands, which secrete oil to keep our skin soft and supple.
There’s a REALLY amazing series on PBS called “Your Inner Fish” and it takes you on an artful journey back into time to show you exactly what physical traits you can thank ancient reptiles for. Guess what? Hair and skin is on that list! When our oil glands aren’t functioning the way they are designed to, our skin dries out and we start resembling that cute little lizard. Thats why the top 3 reasons on this list are related to oil gland production, while the other 2 are equally as important and in sharing them I also share ways you can incorporate new solutions to keep the skin moisturized as the season makes its change. Without further ado the top 5 reasons your skin is always dry (and how to fix it):
We’re Getting Older
Activity in the sebaceous glands, as well as the overall number of sebaceous glands, starts to decrease when we get older. The sebaceous glands are responsible for creating sebum, the oily substance made up of fatty acids, waxes and sugar that protects the outer layer of the skin from losing water. The skin needs the outer layer to be a minimum of 10% water, but 20% – 30% is ideal. When our skin loses water, it becomes dry, flaky and itchy like that of a reptile.
One of the best ways to avoid dry skin as our bodies continue to change as we get older is to make it a priority to stay hydrated. It’s not only good for your skin, it’s good for your brain. Did you know that when you’re hydrated you’re also able to concentrate better? That’s reason enough for me. Some people confuse proper hydrating with drinking a certain amount of liquids but the teas, coffees and processed beverages we drink can dehydrate us even more. One tip that seems to work for the women at the Tata Harper office is to get the biggest mason jar you can find, fill it with either room temperature water or a very light juice watermelon, and sip it throughout the day. Your body will be supremely hydrated and after good practice, your skin will start to feel and look dramatically different. We challenge you to go for one jar of water a day. If you incorporate this into your routine, be sure to share with us on social media @tataharper #hydrationchallenge.
Hot & Cold
Both hot and cold temperatures can cause water to evaporate from the skin. You can lose as much moisture in freezing, windblown temperatures as you can in the hot desert heat. Water can also evaporate from the skin if you live in a really dry area, and swimming in pool water can suck the moisture right out of your skin too. The best and most obvious solution here? Moisturize. During the winter, a body oil can work wonders to replenish that lost moisture. Many of the gentlemen from our office play ice hockey (indoor and outdoor) during the winter season and swear by our Revitalizing Body Oil to keep their skin from drying out during and after game time. It could also be their secret weapon for the winning streak they’ve been on, but (shhh) you didn’t read that here. In warmer temperatures, a lightweight, non-tacky body moisturizer is going to work just as good as it feels. We came out with our Fortifying Body Lotion right before the summer season kicked off (great timing) and, for the face, we also launched Soothing Apricot Resurfacing Mask which is powered by coconut water to give an added boost of hydration. We love this dream team so much, no doubt, we’ll probably be begging Tata to bring it back next year.
What is lurking in your shower? This isn’t about the chemical cleansers we use to clean it (which can also have a drying effect), I’m talking about the actual products we use to wash our bodies. There are so many body washes and soaps available on shelves today that we can get inundated with messaging about polishing beads and smelling like a cupcake. Some men’s body washes even make the claim that they’ll attract women in droves (jeeeeez) but the important thing to look for when picking out this daily product is one without sulfates and harsh detergents, which are often found in many popular, (best-selling even) body washes. Detergents wreak havoc on the skin’s most outermost layer and expose us to more chemicals as they rob our skin of necessary oils. Double whammy!
Youre Not Eating the Right Foods
Chances are, if you’re staying on top of all the external factors and you still have dry skin, it’s likely that your symptom is a reflection of something going on inside. If you look to food as medicine, you’ll see that water-dense foods like fruits and vegetables will improve the texture of your skin. Orange vegetables in particular are rich in beta carotene, which is notoriously great for the skin, and will help fight dry skin and protect the skin from environmental damage. Fall is officially here, so try introducing local sweet potatoes, pumpkin or carrots to a recipe you wouldn’t normally and see the difference in taste and in your skin (pumpkin spice lattes do not count.) Another helpful and delightful ingredient for beautiful skin? Foods that are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, like fresh caught salmon, will strengthen skin cells and can also reduce inflammation.
Frequent Hot Showers
Winter is coming… and you probably won’t like me for saying this, but you know those long hot showers you like to take? They’re not only u$ing up water and electricity, they’re severely drying out your skin. Hot water over-dries your skin by opening up your pores which make you lose more moisture. The hot water feels great because it relieves dry, itchy skin but the flipside is after you come out of that very hot shower, your skin releases histamine which causes even more drying. What’s your alternative for finding respite from a freezing winter day? Keep the heat to a minimum! If your legs are red from the heat after getting out of the shower, don’t come to us wondering why your skin is dry. I can say it because I’m guilty of it. Instead, try taking a warm bath with some aromatherapy or take a quick shower, then keep a humidifier by the bed and add drops of aromatherapy oil to the water mixture to extend the relaxing experience.
Last, but not least, let us give you a quick run down of our most moisturizing products. (Tata herself has pretty dry skin, so when she was formulating the line, ultra-hydrating formulas were a must.) Not a single one of our products strips the skin, but there are still a few that are a little more moisture-intense than others.
Body: Revitalizing Body Oil, Fortifying Body Lotion. Both are hydrating and supply long-lasting moisture and a supple skin feel. Depends on which experience you like more – oil, or cream? Another tip: use them both!
Skin: Moisturizing Mask – this is our new overnight moisturizing treatment that replenishes lost moisture to skin and absolutely quenches every last feeling of dryness. Let it do the work while you sleep and wake up with glowy, soft skin. Repairative Moisturizer, Rebuilding Moisturizer – these are our daily moisturizers that really work on dry skin. The main difference between the two? Repairative leaves the skin dewy, while Rebuilding leaves the skin matte. Nourishing Oil Cleanser. Ok yes, you read that right – a cleanser, listed as a moisturizer? This Oil Cleanser is incredible for its ability to hydrate the skin. We’ve been using it for a few weeks now and our skin is noticeably more hydrated. Check it out!
Heres to a healthy, hydrated glow!! Xo.