What you need to know if you have dry skin

A common problem is dry skin (in Greek xerosis cutis). The causes are inclement weather conditions, low humidity due to air conditioning or heating, frequent showering and soap use. In addition, various physical conditions such as kidney function problems, a slow thyroid gland, heredity (such as atopy and ichthyosis vulgaris) and certain acne medications such as isotretinoin can make the skin drier. In a mild form, there is often only scalyness without complaints, but in addition to scaling, you can also develop redness, a tight feeling and even eczema (asteatotic eczema).

Own skin barrier

Our natural protection is the epidermis, the top layer of skin, which consists of keratinocytes. In between are fillers such as lipids and proteins. The lipid part of the epidermis helps prevent water loss and consists of ceramide, cholesterol and essential fatty acids.

Natural moisturizing factors (NMF) are our natural water-attracting substances found exclusively in the stratum corneum of the top layer of skin. These substances consist of 2-pyrrolidone-5-carboxylic acid (PCA), urocanic acid (UCA) and salts such as magnesium, calcium, lactate and urea.

It ensures that the water is attracted and bound, even in an environment with a low (l<50%) humidity level. The influence of a high acidity (pH), such as showering and using soap, has a negative influence on the formation of a skin’s own NMF.

The sebaceous gland also plays a role; the formed sebum provides, as it were, a coating on our skin and hair to retain moisture in your skin, among other things. However, our own skin sebum production decreases by 23% per decade from the age of 20! We slowly dry out.

Skin barrier formed in the womb

Research shows that the skin barrier in the uterus is formed after the thirty-fourth week of pregnancy. After birth, the baby’s skin is drier in the first month and the water content in the skin increases over a period of two years. Initially, a baby’s stratum corneum (top layer of skin) is rougher and gradually becomes smoother.

As we age, we experience more dry skin due to a decrease in our skin lipids such as ceramide, delayed epidermal cell turnover and changes in skin keratin, an insoluble protein that protects us from the outside world. Keratin makes our skin tougher and water repellent. With age, keratin K1 and K10 located in the upper epidermal layer decrease. K5 and K14 located in the basal bottom layer increase. All this results in water loss in the skin, or transepidermal water loss (TEWL).

Ideal water content in the skin

The skin needs a water content between 10-15% to keep it supple and intact. Below 10% water content, dry skin is visible in the form of flakiness. And when the top layer of skin, stratum corneum, dries out further, it leads to flakes, but also to roughness and even small cracks.

Moisturizer categories

There are many moisturizers on the market and can actually be divided into 3 different categories, each with its own function.


Are mainly lipids and oils and fill the space between the keratinocytes in the upper skin layers. Compare it to cement between bricks. Emollentia also have a light barrier function to prevent water loss in the skin, leaving a supple, hydrated and softer skin. Well-known examples of this are ceramide, squalene, canola, olive, palm and coconut oil. Our natural ceramide and squalene play an important role in the skin barrier. One study showed that the addition of a ceramide-containing cream in addition to a strong hormone ointment reduced symptoms, shortened disease duration and accelerated healing in patients with eczema.


Humectants are substances that attract water, which improves the hydration of the stratum corneum, better cohesion of the keratinocytes and reduction of scaling. Typical humectants are hyaluronic acid, glycerin, sorbitol, urea, honey and alpha hydroxy acids (AHA). Humectants extract moisture from the skin, not moisture from the environment. This can cause more dryness and tightness in the skin for some.


Retains the moisture in the skin by physically blocking it. The TEWL is stopped by this. Examples of occlusives are Vaseline, lanolin, silicones, and waxes. 5% Vaseline reduces TEWL by 98% followed by lanolin, mineral oil (paraffin) and silicone which only gives a 20-30% TEWL reduction. On the skin, occlusives can feel shiny, heavy and sticky. Due to the occlusive effect to prevent moisture loss from the skin, there is another disadvantage: closing the pores and drainage of sebum. This results in inflammation, a phenomenon called comedogenic. In particular, cocoa butter, myristyl myristate, synthetic lanolin, sodium lauryl sulfate and octyl stearate are comedogenic (promoting acne)

(TEWL –Transepidermal Water Loss)

Iconic Elements Natural Moisturizer Cream, hydrating a dry skin

Has incorporated these three (occlusive, humectant and emollients) elements to better address dry skin.
Is unscented, suitable for dry, sensitive skin and children.
No synthetic ingredients, no mineral oils.

Dry Skin

Natural Moisturizer cream | pH5 | Zero Plastic inside

Picture of Dr. Francis Wu

Dr. Francis Wu

Dr. Francis Wu, een vooraanstaande dermatoloog, is de drijvende kracht achter Iconic Elements. Hij heeft sinds 2004 zijn expertise ingezet om een veilige en effectieve huidverzorgingslijn te creëren, geschikt voor zowel gezonde huid als huidproblemen. Iconic Elements, opgericht in 2016, is de eerste brede skincare lijn in Nederland ontwikkeld door een dermatoloog. Als medisch specialist streeft Dr. Wu naar het bevorderen van het welzijn van mensen door hoogwaardige en effectieve huidverzorgingsproducten te bieden. De proefdiervrije en vegan producten vermijden schadelijke chemicaliën en bevatten natuurlijke ingrediënten.
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