Is my skin dry OR dehydrated?

Many people don’t actually know the difference between dry skin and dehydrated skin.

  • Dry skin refers to skin that is lacking in oil
  • Dehydrated skin is a lack of moisture (water) in the outer most layer of the skin

Oily skin can experience dehydration since dehydration is a lack of water, not oil. This means oil activity can still be normal or even overactive in dehydrated skin.

To confuse a little more both dry skin AND dehydrated skin can show signs of:-

  • Irritation and sensitivity
  • Tightness/ taut feeling on the skin
  • Rough, flaky and possibly scaly, red skin
  • Fine lines and in severe cases cracks that can sometimes bleed

The causes of dehydrated and dry skins are:-

Aging: aging is the normal process of physical change over time that’s more about genetics than lifestyle. Sebaceous gland activity tends to decrease with age, and the skin’s natural hydrators decline over the years. The skin’s ability to regenerate lipids comprising the protective lipid barrier layer of the upper layers of the skin also decline with age, as does blood flow to the skin, which may cause a drop in sebum production.

Environmental: Prolonged exposure to the sun causes water to evaporate from skin, which is why sunburnt skin requires more moisture than unexposed areas. Cold winds, air conditioning and heating units can also dry the skin and contribute to premature aging and dehydrated skin.

Lifestyle: Fat-free diets, poor diet choices and lifestyle can deprive our bodies of Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) and essential to the skin they most certainly are! This deficiency can result in itching, flakey/red dry skin, dehydrated skin, skin breakout, thinning and can lead to an imbalance in prostaglandins (chemical messengers that do many things, such as control inflammation).

Medications can also quickly contribute to dry skin or dehydrated skin as well as an excess intake of alcohol.

Taking Omega supplements on a daily basis, drinking plenty of water, moisture drenching serums (Hyaluronic acid based serums and Vitamin C serums) to prevent dry skin and dehydrated skins turning to premature aging!

Many believe that skin with no oil whatsoever is the healthiest and resort to stripping their skin with harsh cleansers in order to remove all traces of oil. It must be explained that they need this film to keep skin properly protected and hydrated.

Dry skin and a lack of barrier function is also a cause of dehydration because, with no protective barrier, skin is susceptible to trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL). In this case, even if enough water is being taken in, the skin will be unable to retain that hydration.

According to international esthetic educator, Florence Barrett-Hill: “There is a simple law of physics that can be applied to trans-epidermal water loss and that is: Oil sits on top of water. Logically, if we wanted to retain water within the epidermis or to slow down water movement, the oil phases of the skin are the key to achieving this.”