Stepping out of the shower feels great, doesn't it? All fresh and squeaky clean after a good scrub. Lovely.
But as I dry, I find that so too does my skin. My cheeks and forehead tighten, my under eyes crinkle, my hands crack and roughen, my legs go powdery.
Moisturiser is the obvious solution, but it's a constant battle to keep the moisture locked in.
I'm lucky to have pretty clear skin on my face, but if I over moisturise, it can grow irritated and pimply in protest. I want to take care of my face and keep it clear without stripping it of its natural oils, nor swamping it in excessive creams and potions.
I was reminded last month while abroad for work that it's incredibly freeing to get my legs out! I wore playsuits and shorts because it was too warm not to, but back in the UK, I immediately tucked my legs back into jeans.
It's not about being ashamed of my skin - I absolutely believe everyone should enjoy and be proud of the skin they're in from top to bottom - it's about comfort. The skin on my leg is a dry itchy project never quite gotten around to - easiest put out of sight, out of mind. It's time that changes!
But when it comes to real skin soreness, the biggest challenge is my hands. That's because I use them all day during my working day in the kitchen and I wash them over and over.
My wrists and between my fingers can turn into sore patches, my palms can be so dry they become inflexible. It's not hellish - certainly not as bad as it was when the kids were in nappies! - but it's a year round annoyance.
Of course, dry itchy skin is a relatively common skin complaint in the UK, according to AllergyUK around 15 million people are reported to have very dry itchy skin. If this is all sounding familiar, then I hope you'll stick with me over the next few months as I adapt my skincare routine to hopefully bring my skin under control once and for all with AVEENO®.
To kick off my journey to more comfortable skin, I headed down to London to meet with the AVEENO® team and learn more about the products, as well as the secrets and psychology of skin.
Getting to know the AVEENO® Dermexa range
You may already be familiar with the green AVEENO® Daily Moisturising range, which is for normal to dry skin care, and the dark blue AVEENO® Skin Relief range, which is for very dry irritable skin.
I'll be using the new AVEENO® Dermexa range, which is specifically tailored to people who have very dry itchy skin and is suitable for use by the whole family, including people who may be prone to eczema. It's even delicate enough to be used on the face.
I'll be using the following as part of my daily skincare routine:
- AVEENO® Dermexa Daily Emollient Body Wash - An efficacious body wash which gently cleanses without drying and soothes skin. It will leave skin feeling soft, comfortable and moisturised.
- AVEENO® Dermexa Daily Emollient Cream - Clinically proven to moisturise and soothe, whilst helping reduce flare ups of very dry skin. In a clinical study, 90% of 22 children and babies from 6 months old experienced relief from itchy skin sensations (twice a day application for 12 weeks).
- AVEENO® Dermexa Dermexa Fast & Long-Lasting Balm - Intensely moisturising and is clinically proven to immediately soothe itchy feeling skin.
The AVEENO® Dermexa Cream and Balm, contain a Triple Oat Complex, made up of Colloidal Oatmeal, Oat Oil and Oat Essence, the products moisturise, soothe and help lock moisture. Alongside this, the range contain ceramides, which are known to ensure a healthy skin barrier by maintaining the water permeability barrier function of the skin.
Good skin habits
In addition to using the AVEENO® products every day, I want to make an extra effort to understand my skin, what causes dryness and irritation and what good habits I can adopt to improve my skin.
AVEENO® skin expert Rebecca Bennett explained that everyone has different skin, so everyone will need to find a routine that works for them, but top things to try include:
- Avoid really hot showers! The hot water might feel great in the moment, but it will ultimately dry out your skin even more and can lead to further irritation.
- Keep moisturised. Dry skin is dehydrated, so keep it moisturised with products that lock in the moisture. A good ingredient to look out for is glycerin as this draws moisture into the skin and helps to seal it in.
- Be careful when exfoliating. When you have dry or flaking skin it can be tempting to remove dead or excess skin with an exfoliant but don’t do this if your skin is inflamed, sore, red or broken as it may lead to further issues. If you do wish to exfoliate, do it gently and when you’re not flaring up, and keep to a maximum of once a week
- Look after your skin from the inside, out. Your diet can be as important as any other factor so make sure you eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of water too.
- Use products that are suitable for dry itchy skin, and also that are suitable for skin prone to eczema. It’s very important to moisturise the skin all the time, not only when it feels particularly dry, as this can actually help prevent it getting itchy. AVEENO® Dermexa is a good all year-round option.
- Try to limit stress. Easier said than done but sometimes ten minutes per day dedicated to unwinding or being mindful can help to limit stress caused skin reactions.
Stress and our skin
Psychologist Emma Kenny was on hand to provide some great advice about the psychology of skin.
"I prefer to think of the mind and body as one unit. Ultimately, your brain is an organ of your body and so of course, it’s inevitable that how we feel or think will impact how our body feels or looks.
When we experience a stressful situation, the body goes into fight-or-flight mode and responds by increasing production of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. But when the body produces too much cortisol, it can suppress the immune system and cause an inflammatory response in the skin. People living with skin diseases like eczema are particularly susceptible to this inflammatory response."
I certainly notice my hands and wrists are itchier when I'm very busy, so I can relate to this!
Emma suggests the following tips to restore some balance to your life and in turn to your skin:
- Anchoring. This is a technique I use to take me somewhere that gives me a sense of relaxation or relief. For me it’s the moment they handed me my son, as this was the happiest time in my life. Close your eyes, take yourself there, and as you do hold your middle finger and thumb together. Do this a few times and the association of the thought and the action mean that when you need it, you can transport yourself to that emotion by completing that movement.
- Breathing. Breathe in for 4, hold for 6 and exhale for 7. When you do this you won’t hyperventilate and it will calm your mind
- Mindful practice. Anything that brings you back to the here and now. We have a tendency to let our minds go into overdrive when we lead busy lifestyles. When you can, just take a moment to close your eyes, touch on thoughts, and then let them go. It’s not about trying to clear your mind, it’s about living in the moment and returning to the present rather than worrying about the past or future.
- Mindful activities. You can practice mindfulness whilst doing an activity. Gardening for example is a form of mindfulness. You set your mind to something and focus on that for a period of time, then use that action to bring yourself back to the here and now. For example, try colouring, anyone can do it and you can even do it with the kids if you’re a busy mum. Just make sure you do something that you genuinely get satisfaction from!
- Routine. It’s so important when you lead a busy lifestyle to make it easier for yourself. Find things that fit into your routine rather than trying to change too much. Perhaps it’s a product that you can use on the whole family for ease, or it could be prepping breakfast for the next morning. There are a few things you can do to reduce your rushing around and restore some balance to your life.
- Sleep. Easier said than done when your brain is in overdrive, but seriously, try and get enough sleep. Cut down on screen time in bed so you allow your mind to calm, and ensure you get at least 6 - 7 hours’ sleep for a more productive day
Regular readers will know that I already use mindfulness in my everyday life and find it hugely beneficial, so I'm keen to actively embrace these tips and reinforce my healthy approach to limiting stress.
I'm getting started with the AVEENO® Dermexa range and taking on my positive skin practices from today. Will you join me?
The AVEENO® Body Wash and Cream are available in-store now at Boots, Superdrug & local Pharmacies, and the balm for more targeted areas of dry skin will launch late May. Each product is £9.99.
Do comment here, or message me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter if you have any thoughts, ideas or questions! And check out the hashtags #SkinStories and #BalanceOfOats across social media to see how others are using the AVEENO® Dermexa range.
This is a commissioned post for AVEENO® .