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Dry skin and dehydrated skin - what the differences are and how to treat them

female dry skin

In today’s blog we thought we would discuss the differences between dry skin and dehydrated skin as they are not the same thing (though the terms are often used interchangeably) and how to treat them. Dehydrated skin (as the name implies) describes the situation where your skin is deficient in water. On the other hand, dry skin refers to the situation where your skin lacks natural oils such as sebum that help lock moisture into the skin. Another subtle difference is that dry skin is known as a skin type, while dehydrated skin signifies a skin condition. You do not need to have dry skin to have dehydrated skin. Your skin may be naturally oily but it can still become dehydrated. In fact, when your skin becomes dehydrated and craves moisture it may attempt to satisfy this craving by creating more natural oils which can lead to breakouts and skin irritations.

So how can I tell if I have dry skin or dehydrated skin? Dry skin will tend to feel rough and appear dry and flaky. On the other hand, dehydrated skin will look dull, feel tight and slightly rough, may be a bit more sensitive and will show signs of aging such as fine lines, wrinkles and possibly some sagging. You may also experience dryness in your nose and dry or cracked lips.

So what factors can contribute to dry skin? Environment, such as low humidity or excessive exposure to sunlight and its harmful UV rays, excessive bathing (in particular with hard water) and certain ingredients in the soaps and other skincare products you may use (sodium laureth/lauryl sulfate, parabens and fragrances are usual suspects). Hormone imbalances such as those encountered during menopause or a result of conditions such as hypothyroidism may also be contributing factors, as are dermatitis, malnutrition and simply getting older.

And what about dehydrated skin? What factors can lead to that condition? Many are the same. Again, environmental factors can play a role such as living in a closed environment where you have either central heating or air-conditioning running 24/7, weather (especially the harmful UV rays from the sun), not getting enough sleep, drinking insufficient amounts of water, taking showers or baths with water that is too hot and tobacco and alcohol consumption.

How can we help boosting the hydration levels in our skin? The first thing is likely pretty obvious – drink more water. Recall that our skin is our biggest organ, and you can consider it to be the body’s reservoir for water. Our other organs need water too and they take priority, so if we don’t drink enough water to keep the reservoir topped up, there will be far less available to help hydrate our skin. Recommendations for water consumption differ and depend on many factors, but as a starting point we can say 2 litres per day which equates to the commonly cited rule of 8 glasses per day. If you struggle with drinking all that water you can also try adding high water content foods such as cucumbers, iceberg lettuce, celery, radishes and watermelon to your diet. 

Perhaps also just as obvious is to keep your skin clean. This way, any topical products that you use as part of your skin care regimen will have the most chance of penetrating the skin and increasing their effectiveness.

If you live in a home or work in an office that has central heating and cooling, these systems will sap the air of its moisture. As a result, the moisture within your skin will diffuse out leaving your skin in a more dehydrated state. The use of humidifiers can help in this regard. And if you travel frequently for work or pleasure, airplanes and airport environments are particularly notorious for sucking the moisture out of your skin. Application of a moisturizer before you leave will help.

To help keep the moisture within your skin you can also take care to ensure your diet contains an adequate level of omega-fatty acids, which make up the membranes of your skin cells. Oral consumption or supplementation is preferred over topical. Alongside those omega fatty acids, another key player that can really help lock moisture into your skin is hyaluronic acid. It is a carbohydrate with an extremely high affinity for water, so it is easy to understand that healthy levels of this compound in your skin will help maintain its hydration level, a fact that has been shown in clinical studies.

And one final thing you can do for your skin that we cannot stress enough is to faithfully use a sunscreen or otherwise protect yourself with clothing from the harmful UV rays of the sun when you are outside.

If you have dry skin, the above-mentioned tips will help, but we can add a few more as well. After bathing or showering, apply moisturizer on slightly damp skin. Damp skin absorbs products more readily. Just be careful of the ingredients in the moisturizer. However, if you are still having persistent trouble with dry skin, it would be worth consulting with a licensed dermatologist as there may be prescription formulations that can provide further help.

Takeaway message

In this article, we discussed the question of dry skin and dehydrated skin – what the differences are and how to treat them. We first described how these are two different concepts – dry skin is a skin type, whereas dehydrated skin is a skin condition. There are many common factors that can contribute to both: harmful UV rays from the sun, inadequate water intake, living and working in a dry environment are examples. Similarly, the steps you can take to help prevent both situations are also similar: increasing water intake either directly or through food rich in water, using sunscreens or protective clothing when in the sun, and adding humidity to your living and working environment where central heating and cooling are used. And finally, we discussed all the wonderful moisturizing properties of hyaluronic acid, an ingredient in our product.

 

 

 

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