You might be thinking that dry skin and dehydrated skin are one and the same thing but this common misconception can lead to complexion problems. Dehydrated skin is not the same as dry skin and the two require different treatment when it comes to skincare solutions. Read on to find out what the difference is, how to find out whether your skin is dry or dehydrated and how to treat each, either or both of these conditions.
Dry or Dehydrated?
We’re going to simplify it into a few short sentences:
Dry skin is lacking in oil.
Dehydrated skin is lacking in water.
Dry skin is the result of genes that say ‘don’t produce enough sebum’.
Dehydrated skin is the result of external factors such as environmental factors and diet.
Dry skin is a skin type.
Dehydrated skin is a skin condition.
You may have dry skin, dehydrated skin, neither or both.
How do you know whether your skin is Dry or Dehydrated?
Dehydrated skin tends to look dull and feel tight, even when properly moisturized. With dry skin, lack of moisture (lipid content) can result in rough, dry or flaky skin.
Here’s how to know if you fall under the scientifically dry category: Wash your face with a gentle, sulphate-free cleanser and check on your skin an hour later. If it’s lacking in moisture overall, you probably have true dry skin. If, however, your cheeks feel tightand itchy (and definitely don’t look dewy), then it’s more likely to be an issue of dehydration.
If you are not sure whether your problem is dryness, dehydration or both, you really have to get know your skin. When you notice that your skin feels uncomfortable or looks flaky, dull, patchy or tight, note down what you are eating, drinking and how you are feeling generally. Monitor your skin over a 30-day cycle – if it eventually returns to normal status quo, then you were just dehydrated.
How to treat dry skin
If your skin is dry, make sure that you are using the right moisturizing ingredients. Honey, squalane and aloe are examples. Treating dry skin involves dealing with the lack of protective oils on the topmost layer of the skin. This involves a more topical approach that locks in moisture, while aiding the skin in balancing its natural oil production.
A penetrating night oil will benefit dry skin hugely. Oils allow the skin to breathe and they penetrate deep into the dermis, rather than creating a barrier
Commercial cleansers are huge contributors to dry skin, as most contain chemicals that strip the skin of its natural sebum layer. This results in further drying of the skin, which then overproduces oil to compensate. The result is an undesirable combination of flaky and oily. Make sure to invest in a gentle cleansing system free from skincare nasties and with moisturising ingredients.
Do not use products containing pore clogging sulphates, silicones or parabens or anything that is heavily fragranced. Natural products can help to provide deep, penetrating moisture to the skin and can also help to regulate sebum production.
How to Treat Dehydrated Skin
Since the purpose of hydrating is to bind water to our skin and moisturizing is to prevent the water from leaving our skin, it’s important that hydration comes before moisturizing when applying products topically. This is why serums are to be applied first, as most hydrating treatment serums contain a humectant. Hyaluronic Acid is an ingredient that will greatly benefit dehydrated skin by locking in moisture and drawing water from the atmosphere into the skin. Once that layer of humectant is on, it’s important to seal it all in with a lipid (oil) based moisturiser. This combination creates a healthy balance.
Avoid products containing mineral oils, alcohol and surfactants and instead look for nourishing and natural vitamins and extracts in your cleansing products. Stripping the skin with harsh cleansing is the enemy of a hydrated complexion.
Dehydrated skin can be topically addressed to a point, but it’s essential also to address dietary habits. Drink water. Eat water-rich foods, avoid excessed of caffeine and alcohol and enjoy a hydrated complexion and a healthier body!