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Desert wreaks havoc on skin

By Al Varela

Dear Al: My skin is very dry and I can't seem to put enough moisturizer on. And to top it all off--I break out. I am very confused about what to do. What can be the problem?

Using more moisturizer may not be the only solution to your dry skin problem. Living in a high plains desert such as El Paso the elevation and dry climate adds to the problem of drier skin.

The range of temperature changes we experience throughout the day also contributes to skin problems. Then during the winter months the heater in the car and at home intensifies the problem.

I cannot emphasize enough that we must drink plenty of water and reduce our intake of caffeine just to keep our body's function normal. Also try reducing the use of your heater during the winter months and maybe using a sweater and additional blankets. Think of this as sort of a Dickensian approach to skin care.

Next, evaluate your daily skin care routine. If the skin is not properly cleansed and periodically exfoliated your moisturizer will not be effective. Exfoliating the skin will prevent dead skin cells from building up and blocking the penetration of the moisturizer.

Use a gentle exfoliating product that has a natural base. For example, corn cob meal is excellent because you can use it more frequently with less irritation to the skin.

It is also important to not use a bar soap or any deodorizing soap on your face. These types of soaps have a very drying effect on the skin. Be sure to use a more gentle cream or milk cleanser that is chosen for your skin type. Remember also that as the climate changes so will your cleanser.

A deep pore cleansing masque helps to release clogs, blackheads and dead skin at a deeper level and is essential to a good skin care routine. However a masque should never be used on the same day as exfoliating. I have seen excellent results from the Clay and Herbal Mask by Decleor which contains plant extracts and is recommended for all skin types.

The desert is going to be dry no matter what we do. But your skin can be an oasis of moisture if you take the right steps.

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