Sensitive, dry, flaky skin is common, particularly in mature individuals. These findings are signs of a disrupted skin barrier. Skin barrier dysfunction also appears to play a role in certain conditions including rosacea, eczema, psoriasis and acne. Many factors come into play including genetics, environment, and skin care products. The skin barrier contains the acid mantle, the protective film of natural oils, amino acids and sweat that covers your skin.
Skin grows more alkaline as we age, activating enzymes that break down collagen. Barrier problems are exacerbated by damage from too much scrubbing or alkaline washes. Frequent applications of salicylic, glycolic and/or lactic acid containing products and physical damage from overuse of scrubs and abrasive procedures (eg microdermabrasion) can also play a role.
The solution? Reduce the frequency of abrasive procedures (weekly or less for normal to dry skin and 3 times weekly for oily skin). Avoid using multiple products and especially alkaline cleansers with a pH greater than 7(most super-foamy and lathery face washes). Apply moisturizers after cleansing that contain ingredients such as ceramides, glycerin, petrolatum, and hyaluronic acid that help repair the skin barrier and retain moisture.