Dry skin and dehydrated may sound like the same prognosis, but they are caused by different circumstances and require different treatments. Dry is a skin type, meaning it is genetic and won’t change, but dehydration is a skin condition, meaning temporary (for my Spanish speakers, thing about estar and ser).
Dry skin is characterized by:
- smaller pores
- minimal acne
- rough, flaky, tight
- fine lines are more pronounced
- increased sensitivity
Dehydrates skin is characterized by:
- oily t-zone with dryness everywhere else
- rough, bumpy, and/or wrinkled
- gets irritated easier, turns red, itchy, bumpy, ect.
- caused by age, lifestyle (smoking/alcohol/diet), sun exposure, and hormones
We spent a whole week on this topic in esthetics school because getting the proper prognosis is key in treating it. Every skin needs more moisture, but this could be in the form of water or oil. When these two get off balance it causes dry skin or acne. Dry skin lacks oil whereas dehydrated skin lacks water. You can have oily skin and still be dehydrated. You can have dry skin and also be dehydrated. But you can’t have oily skin and be dry. Got it? 😜
A good test is to pinch the skin- if it takes time to bounce back, its dehydrated.
Dry skin needs moisture. Dry skin doesn’t retain water as easy and when water evaporates, it makes the skin more dry. To help it retain water, you need oil, either your own, or topically.
If we could draft a perfect skin care routine for dry skin, it would be this. Take some or all of these tips! Use a gentle cleanser with glycerin only at night; cleanse with just water in the morning. Add a toner or essence for extra hydration, incorporate in a serum, applying right after essence to damp skin. Follow with hyaluronic acid serum, a molecule capable of holding up to 1,000 times its weight in water. Use a moisturizers full of anti-oxidants (algae and sea buckthorn are great ones for dry skin). Finally close with a high quality oil- avocado, rose hip, or marula. When you exfoliate, use a more hydrating exfoliation like lactic acid. No more rough scrubs!
Oily skin also needs moisture. When oily skin has no water, it produces oil to hydrate, creating this vicious cycle of oil production. Don’t exfoliate excessively or aggressively (no more St Ives peach scrub). Don’t use too alkaline products (you will know if your skin feels too tight after). Use hydrating exfoliants like lactic or glycolic acid and make sure your products are full of humectants and hydrators. Use a serum as opposed to a moisturizer, as the smaller molecule size will not clog the pores. Pat it in instead of massaging, and use ingredients that will address the sensitivity created (prickly pear and green tea are great ones).
Avoid- fragrance and alcohol