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October 15, 2020
We are often asked, “What makes skincare especially good for dry climates?” It’s a very good question and one that we feel skincare companies don’t ask themselves nearly often enough. Here in Calgary we have a very unique climate that is dry and becomes even dryer whenever a Chinook rolls in (which seems to be every few days, am I right?) If you live in a humid climate moisture regulation is a simpler job, you can often get along fine with no products, poorly formulated products, or products with very little concentrations of active moisturizing ingredients. Here in Alberta we need a special balance of ingredients that strengthen our skins natural ability to retain moisture, ingredients that attract moisture and hold onto it (without attracting too much…but we’ll get to that), and ingredients that protect our skin from the dry air which is constantly trying to suck the moisture out of it (little rascal!) How skin functions, how different ingredients can support it and how some ingredients can disrupt it is important to understanding how best to protect it. Some of what we are about to say will be controversial, but we’re all about challenging the status quo to bring about positive change. Change is needed for dry climate skincare and we’re bringing it to you. Let’s dive into what makes The Potion Ceramide Collection the perfect skincare for dry climates.
1. Moisture barrier strengthening.
2. Avoiding the use of “Super Humectants".
3. Occlusivity without a sticky feel.
4. A minimalist approach.
Moisture Barrier Strengthening
A strong moisture barrier is especially important in dry climates as it is your skin’s best protection against Transepidermal Water Loss. In a climate where the air doesn’t provide any hydration and will actually cause water to evaporate from our skin's surface, the stronger our moisture barrier, the more hydration from our skincare and the water we drink will stay in our skin where we want it!
Your skin’s moisture barrier is made up of Ceramides, Cholesterol and Fatty Acids. It fills in the spaces between your skin cells and makes up nearly 40% of your epidermis. This barrier is not only important for holding moisture in your skin, it also keeps bacteria and environmental toxins out. Some people naturally have a strong barrier and others begin with a weaker one and many factors can damage this barrier over time. Our skin's production of Ceramides declines with age, and though there is not much we can do about that, there are other factors that break down our skin's natural barrier that we can control; Overuse of exfoliants, acids and cleansers, as well as using drying toners and clarifying face masks too often can impede our natural barrier function. While we’re on the subject, extended wear of those other kinds of face mask (looking at you Covid-19…) can cause friction that also damages our delicate moisture barrier. Of course, there is one other factor that can weaken our barrier, living in a dry climate, but don’t fear, though we may not be able to control the weather, all is not lost.
In humid climates a weak barrier doesn’t cause as many problems when it comes to moisture since the air isn’t actively robbing the skin of hydration. In arid conditions, promoting a stronger moisture barrier is the best way to help your skin stay healthy and hydrated. Our Ceramide Collection is made with ingredients that mimic our natural “mortar” to help our skin hold on to moisture, reduce sensitivity and smooth and plump the skin’s surface.
Avoiding Super Humectants
Often, skincare is formulated to be most effective in a regular to humid climate, relying on powerful humectants to attract moisture to the skin from the air. This can be a problem for us dry climate folks as there are a plethora of products made with ingredients that are not ideal for our unique needs and can even do damage to our skin function in the long term. One of the most widely used ingredients in skincare these days, Hyaluronic Acid (HA), is pretty much the skincare buzzword of the moment. You’ve probably heard of it and if you check the ingredients list on your facial care products, you’ll likely find it. HA works by attracting water moisture into your skin. It is estimated to hold 600-1000x its weight in moisture which is why it is so popular as a humectant in skincare products. Most people will notice an almost instant (but temporary) plumping effect that will appear to smooth out fine lines and give the skin a softer feel. HA’s remarkable ability to attract and hold water is unsuitable for dryer climates as it seeks to relentlessly absorb moisture throughout the day. If there is very little moisture in the environment (like here in Alberta), it still needs to get water from somewhere and unfortunately the only place it can get it is the deeper layers of our skin. Over time this can worsen dehydration, cause redness and inflammation and create a dependency on the ingredient. It’s quite a sneaky problem as it has a delayed onset. It will usually seem great at first but over time (anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months of regular use) you will begin to notice that your product isn’t working as well as when you first began using it, your skin texture will become more rough and bumpy, you may experience redness or flakyness and more product will be needed with more frequent application for your skin to look and feel “normal.”
Not everyone will experience these effects. People with hearty, oilier skin with a strong moisture barrier may be able to use HA without problems. People with dryer, thinner, more sensitive skin with a weaker barrier will usually notice these side effects more quickly and more often. Luckily if you stop using HA, your skin should begin to go back to normal within a month. It may seem dry at first, but this will soon balance out and the redness and texture issues will subside.
There are many great humectant ingredients that draw moisture into your skin while you apply your skincare, keeping your skin hydrated without continuously trying to draw moisture from the atmosphere. Some great choices for dry climates are Glycerin, Honey, Aloe and Seaweed. We use Vegetable Glycerin in our Face, Eye and Body Potions along with botanical oils to lock moisture in your skin without pulling it from your deeper layers. When used on a wet face, your skin remains plump and hydrated on the surface while maintaining health and good function through and through.
Occlusivity Without a Sticky Feel
Occlusive ingredients are anything that leaves protection on the surface of the skin, creating a barrier between your skin’s surface and the elements. In dry climates it is important to include an occlusive ingredient in your skincare to slow evaporation of moisture from your skin. There are many occlusive ingredients used in skincare from synthetic (Petrolatum, Silicones, Mineral Oil) to natural (Beeswax, Lanolin, Rich Oils and Butters). The downside to occlusive ingredients is that some make your skin feel oily or suffocated. Many leave a sticky feeling on the surface of your skin or don’t behave well under makeup. In our decades of experience in the skincare field, many formulas that provided the amount of moisture needed to prevent dry patches, felt very heavy and often led to breakouts.
We believe Beeswax is one of the best occlusive ingredients. It is great for anyone with chemical sensitivities, doesn’t clog pores and has gentle humectant effects, but it can feel heavy and sticky on some people’s skin. We use a specially processed Beeswax called Cera Bellina in our Potions. It has been super-heated with glycerol esters, transforming the free fatty acids into Glycerin. This increases its value as a humectant, promotes a beautiful satin skin feel and, when combined with Glycerin and Botanical Oils with a specific fatty acid profile, helps our Potions bond with water to give your skin full hydration. You get all the positive results of using Beeswax, without the drawbacks. It helps your skin retain its precious moisture all day, it makes a perfect primer for makeup and gives your skin that sought-after dewy glow with a satiny feel.
A Minimalist Approach
For many people living in a dry climate, skin functions optimally when its natural protective factors are left intact. Our skin employs a delicate balance of micro-organisms, sebum production and barrier function which are intertwined in a beautiful relationship with each other to create skin health. When we throw that relationship out of balance with overuse of certain products, we create the very problems we are trying to avoid. There is a time, place, and purpose for highly active skincare. However, there is an increasing trend of the home skincare user layering acids, acne treatments, topical steroids, over cleansing, over exfoliating, and over-applying powerful humectants and other active ingredients that can disrupt the skin’s natural function. The negative side-effects of skincare overdose are usually more apparent in people whose skin is already compromised by living in a harsh climate. If you have skin health issues that don’t seem to improve (or seem to worsen) the more you try to fix them with products, taking a step back and simplifying your routine may be just the reset your skin needs.
When formulating The Potion, we took all of these factors into account, with a goal of creating the ultimate skincare magic that could stand up to extreme climates while maintaining cosmetic elegance. If you are fortunate enough to live in a humid climate, The Potion works just as well! You get skincare that can stand up to any environmental conditions with the added support of moisture in your air (lucky!!!) It’s a win-win!!!
If you live in a dry climate, we would love to hear about what works for you! Let us know in the comments.
Thanks for reading,
Sylvan & Joy
SHOP The Ceramide Collection
SHOP The Face Potion Minis Kit
*Information contained in our blogs is designated for education purposes only. The opinions are of us, our families, friends, customers and human testers. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.*
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