Hard water and excessive hygiene, what are the best solutions for the skin?
Running water available to wash the face and body is often hard, which is irritating to the skin and makes it more fragile. Hard water and excessive hygiene weaken the protective effect of the skin and can trigger itching, tightness, dryness, and even allergies and encourage certain dermatological conditions. Here are all the solutions to maintain beautiful skin despite all this.
Water has a direct effect on the skin. The skin is a "container" organ since it envelops us entirely. It is the only barrier between the body and the outside world. But it is alive and as such, it interacts with its surroundings. The skin is also an emunctory organ, which means that it is capable of expelling waste and toxins through its pores via perspiration. But it is also capable of absorbing what it encounters, like blotting paper: this is how cosmetics treat skin problems. This phenomenon also explains the softening of the stratum corneum, the layer of dead cells that protects the surface of the skin, when one bathes feet or hands before a pedicure or manicure. Beyond these natural processes, the skin absorbs toxic substances, often unintentionally, and loses valuable substances, especially water, when its hydrolipidic film is altered. This Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL), which leads to dehydration, is exacerbated by hard water and excessive hygiene. This is because hard water penetrates the skin more easily and damages it further: it's a vicious cycle.
What is hard water?
To reach the underground reservoirs, water travels from the earth's surface through the soil. During this passage, it flows through limestone or chalky geological layers which load it with carbonates (calcium and magnesium) and microparticles of trace elements. Water is said to be 'hard' when it retains a lot of minerals. It is therefore highly concentrated in salts, in particular calcium and magnesium. Water hardness is measured in degrees "F": between 0 and 18°F the water is considered soft, between 18 and 30°F it is semi-hard and hard if it exceeds 30°F. At home, hardness is easily assessed by the marks water leaves when drying. It is the limestone that it contains and that is deposited when it evaporates... the same limestone that smears washing machines and damages the skin!
How does hard water irritate the skin?
Limescale, a mineral naturally present in water, is not well tolerated by the skin. Its tiny crystals are deposited on the epidermis like micro-needles, irritating it. Hard water is a true aggressor, and justifiably so since it causes redness, tightness, pimples, and dryness. It weakens the stratum corneum and the hydrolipidic film. The skin is less impermeable, its biological mechanisms are being disrupted. Normal skin can become dry and/or dehydrated simply because of excessively hard water. This is all the truer if the lime deposits and remains on the surface of the skin when air-dried. Feelings of tightness and discomfort can quickly lead to itching, skin irritation, and even eczema and allergies.
The effects of hard water on the skin:
Hard water has the effect of an irritant on the skin and triggers the skin's responses to aggression: patches, itching, blemishes, and redness. Dryness, which makes the skin more sensitive and reactive, pushes it further into this downward spiral of symptoms. Meanwhile, the effects of limescale accumulate if the skin is not relieved. It is then in a situation of chronic irritability, with increasingly strong allergy-type reactions each time it is exposed to the limescale in water. This can lead to serious dermatological problems such as atopic dermatitis, scalp dandruff, scabs, or pimples. Lastly, hard water also aggravates certain existing skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. In addition to exposure to limescale, excessive hygiene strips the skin, alters its hydrolipidic film, promotes dryness, and further exacerbates skin problems.
Solutions against the effects of limescale and excessive hygiene on the skin
Certain steps can help preserve the integrity of the skin and its protective film
Avoid frequent washing
Too frequently, it dries out the epidermis by thinning the hydro-protective film on the surface. Use gentle formulae designed for sensitive skin and that have been dermatologically tested.
To clean off limescale that remains on the skin
The first thing is to adjust the water used for washing to an appropriate temperature. This is because as the water heats up, it transforms the mineral salts into limescale: the hotter the water, the more they crystallise and form limestone.
Set the temperature to lukewarm or rinse with cold water to remove as much limescale as possible from the skin's surface. Next, dry thoroughly, if possible, by pressing rather than rubbing, to absorb moisture without rubbing the skin. On the face, use soft cotton gauze or microfiber towels.
Protecting yourself from the effects of limescale on your skin
An essential step: use rich and gentle formulae to cleanse the skin, whether on the body or the face. A greasy cleanser or a lipid-replenishing cleansing oil leaves a protective film on the surface and provides comfort to the skin. In BLUE SKINCARE’s XÉRO•NACRE range, dedicated to dry and uncomfortable skin, we recommend the Lipid-Replenishing Cleansing Oil: it gently cleanses the face and body while moisturising it. Beneficial for the most sensitive skin, its unique complex of ultra-gentle cleansing agents coupled with nourishing plant oils and pre-biotics respects the hydrolipidic film and the skin microbiota.
It is also necessary to adapt one's facial routine with water-free make-up removers to avoid further contact with limescale: double cleansing with a cleansing balm followed by micellar water does not alter the stratum corneum and respects the hydrolipidic film without leaving mineral residue while cleaning perfectly. Choose products that are dermatologically tested and formulated for sensitive skin. Finally, use moisturising and nourishing products with emollients to protect the skin and relieve dryness. In the event of an allergy-type crisis or when the skin is itchy due to limescale (or the cold), opt for an anti-itching treatment to put an end to the problem.
How to combat the effects of limescale on the skin?
The solution to avoid the adverse effects of limescale on the skin (i.e., redness, itching, dryness, tightness...): choose and use soothing, lipid-replenishing, and repairing cosmetic products that restore the skin's water balance, protect the skin and restore its protective hydrolipid film. In case of severe symptoms, the routine should ideally include an anti-itching formula.
How to protect your skin against limescale?
It is also necessary to choose gentle cleansing formulas rich in fat, such as surgras products or lipid-replenishing cleansing oils that cleanse while respecting the pH of the skin and restoring its barrier function. Ideally, remove makeup with micellar waters, cleansing milks or balms to avoid or limit rinsing with water to preserve the skin from limescale.
How do you remove limescale from the skin?
Wash at the coolest possible temperature because the scale crystals are much less numerous than in hot water. This is why you can also rinse with cold water which is much less calcareous and which flushes out residue. Then, the drying is meticulous, without rubbing but by pressure so as not to irritate the skin. Avoid leaving the skin to dry in the open air because the hard water leaves its limestone on the epidermis.
A radiant complexion requires a reinforced skin barrier, capable of protecting the skin from external aggressions.
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