Many of my friends and clients ask me whether I think their skin is dry or dehydrated. I came to realise that many people don’t know the difference and how to determine what skin type and condition they have. I thought I’d put together a little cheat sheet for you. -Spoiler alert. It can be both!
Dry skin is a skin type, caused by a lack of oil and it can be temporary. Other skin types are normal, combination, oily and sensitive.
Dehydrated skin is a skin condition that can affect any skin type including dry skin. This is caused by a lack of water in the skin.
While they both have similar characteristics, they have different underlying reasons..
Products don’t absorb easily
Dry and flaky patches
Blackheads, milia and spots may be present
Easily irritated – more likely to suffer reactions to products
Aggravated by poor skincare
Large or small pores
Feels tight and dry although it can sometimes look oily and have breakouts
Absorbs products really quickly
Visible blackheads and spots
Make-up doesn’t last and becomes patchy throughout the day as the skin absorbs any water in your foundation
Due to lifestyle circumstances, you may suffer from a lot of headaches.
Dehydration can affect every skin type and there are many causes of this..
Strong wind, dry climates, cold air, too much sun, air conditioning and central heating
Alcohol consumption, caffeine, not drinking enough water
Poor skincare routine, using the wrong products, stress, smoking, illness and medication. Genetics, pregnancy and periods can also contribute to dehydrated skin.
Choosing the correct products to manage your skin problems is key. Bear in mind that while it will always be the same type (oily, dry, normal, combination, sensitive), your skin condition (dehydrated, hyper-pigmentation, acne) can change regularly. Therefore, it is possible to be both dry and dehydrated.
Assessing your skincare routine every now and again is a great idea. If you have ascertained that you are one or the other by looking at the lists above, the following might help.
Banish Dry Skin
Never use soap and foaming cleansers to wash your skin. These are too harsh and strip the beneficial oils in your skin that help to keep the balance -Save the bubbles for your dishes! Oil based cleansers and balms are preferable.
Using an exfoliator to get rid of dead skin will help moisturisers and serums absorb better, and prevent your skin from looking flaky.
Consider using serums and/or facial oils either combined with or after your moisturiser. Look for products that use the words; ‘replenishing’, ‘nourishing’, or ‘rich’ on the packaging.
Try to avoid alcohol and caffeine, instead drink more water and eat more water-based foods.
Milk cleansers work well for dehydrated skin.
Choosing the right products can be difficult, however if you suspect you’re dehydrated, look for products that use the words ‘hydrating’ and ‘hydra’ and products that contain glycerin and hyaluronic acid.
Glycerin and hyaluronic acid are humectants, which means that they draw moisture into the skin. They also provide a barrier to harsh environmental factors as their thick properties help fill in the microscopic lines that are present in dry skin. They plump up your skin with the moisture that they draw in and by their smoothing/filling properties. Look for words like “hydrating”, “hydra”, or “supple” on the packaging.
In either case, stay away from mineral oils, silicones, and synthetic fragrance in skincare (not makeup) which all make dehydrated and dry skin worse.
What is your skin type?
Do you have any skin conditions? If so, how do you treat them?