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Is your skin dry or dehydrated?

Dry or dehydrated skin – these are often thought of as the same thing, however they are different; dry skins are lacking oil and dehydrated skins are lacking water. They can both have similar issues and be effected by similar things, however they can require different help when it comes to skincare. A skin can be both dry and dehydrated.

Our acid mantle is made from our natural oils and sweat, mixed together they form a protective film that covers our skin. It protects us from things like bacteria and other external polluters but also helps prevent something called trans-epidermal water loss.

A dry skin produces less sebum than other skins so therefore can lack the lipids needed to keep the acid mantle healthy. If it becomes compromised, skin can become irritated and flakey, it can also start to lose water too. A dry skin can be itchy, rough and lack lustre, it may be flakey too. It can be exacerbated by washing with harsh cleansers and too hot water amongst other things.

A dehydrated skin is lacking water and any skin can become dehydrated. Dry skins can be prone to it – if the acid mantle is disrupted then water can escape. Over cleansing and over exfoliating can also damage this natural barrier which can lead to dehydration and also strip natural oils. Central heating in the winter and air conditioning in the summer can both contribute to it too, as can environmental elements. A dehydrated skin can become uncomfortable and lacklustre. I often find it becomes more apparent when make-up is applied – the products can sit in the very fine lines that are typical with dehydration.

So how to we help both of these concerns?

For a dry skin we need to add more oils and nourishment, for a dehydrated skin we need to add water/hydration. A moisturiser will contain both the oil and the water element with an emulsifier to bind them together (oil and water don’t mix). However sometimes a skin needs more of one and you can target with specific products.

Adding an oil into your routine is a wonderful way to replenish and balance the lipids in a dry skin.

Hydrating serums are brilliant for adding lost water. I love to use products with hyaluronic acid, which essentially acts like a water magnet – I find this works really well for my skin. Hydrating sprays are also wonderful to spritz skin throughout the day. I love BYBI’s Mega Mist.

dry or dehydrated
BYBI’s Mega Mist (with a little make-up by me)

Layering these products is a great way to make sure your skin is getting the support it needs.

Use the water based ones first as these will penetrate further into the skin, and then the oil ones on top to help lock the moisture in, add nourishment but also bring comfort and balance to the outer layers of skin.

When applying oils to the skin, apply them to damp skin rather than completely dry – this will really help with hydration levels.

A typical routine might be – (gentle) cleanse, spritz with hydrating spray, hydrating serum, spritz again, oil/moisturiser.

Another application is to mix your serum and oil together in the palm of your hand and then apply as one product, getting the best of both and ease of appication.

Skin changes all the time, so therefore will need different things on different days. A consistent routine is key for supporting skin but it doesn’t have to be rigid. Listen to your skin and tweak your routine accordingly.

Internal factors too

Internal factors can also affect both dry and dehydrated skin. You can really boost dry skin by upping your intake of good fats – avocados, nuts and seeds for example. Drinking more water and less caffeine and alcohol can help with hydration levels too (sorry!!).

Did you know that stress can dehydrate you? and also vice versa. Skin health is not just about skincare, it is about our general health and wellbeing.

How is your skin? Are you dry or dehydrated – or both, or neither?! I’m definitely more dehydrated and noticing it more as I get older. Someone please pass me the water…. 😉

Image shot by Karin Berndl. Skin by me.

  1. This is SO good to know, thank you! I have horrible, dry skin. I drink tons of water and slather oils on my face. I had never realised that the water-based things would go deeper into my skin, so I will have a look at some water-based products to use under my pure organ oil, which I put under my daily moisturiser! I also didn’t think that spritzes did much, but will check some of those out too.

  2. Hey Ellie! Ah so pleased it helped! Yes a water based product can really help under the oils – even just making sure that your skin is slightly damp before you apply the oil can really help. You could also try your argan oil over your moisturiser to see if that makes a difference too. Look for spritzes with hyaluronic acid – they can be lovely for helping with hydration – great on hot days!! xx

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