Dry or dehydrated skin - whats the difference?

Dry or dehydrated skin - whats the difference?

When you are challenged by dry skin, it can be hard to look your best. Your skin feels tighter, your makeup doesn't go on smoothly, and you just don't feel as beautiful. You can tackle the dry skin problem, but it helps to know whether you need to hydrate or moisturise -- or both.

What is dehydration?

Skin is an organ, and it needs to be kept healthy. Hydration refers to the amount of water in your skin, and if there's not enough, you're going to feel it. In other words, a lack of hydration leads to dull, tight feeling, rough skin.

You may hear that to get well hydrated, you need to drink water: 2-3 liters per day is vital for healthy, hydrated skin. And while that's definitely true -- your skin can still be dehydrated if you are not using products to maintain hydration, prevent dehydration and to draw water into the skin’s layers.

Hydrators are designed specifically to attract more moisture to your skin and pull it down into your skin's layers. One ingredient that does this well is hyaluronic acid, sometimes found in skin care products as sodium hyaluronate (this is the salt version, so it is more stable and less likely to oxidize). This compound is also found in human connective tissue like skin and it can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water.

Two of our faves:

PAYOT Elixir D’eau  This super-hydrating serum maintains hydration in your skin and prevents you from losing more water. It helps your skin regenerate more efficiently and protects against the elements that can remove moisture from your skin. Use it twice a day under your regular face cream or by itself.

Dermalogica Skin Hydrating Booster is a hydrating fluid that intensely moisturises thirsty skin and restores the barrier layer helping to smooth and minimise fine lines with renewed hydration, your elasticity is also improved.

What is dry skin and what does a moisturiser do?

Differing from hydrating products, moisturisers form a barrier over your skin to help keep your natural oils in place.  Dry skin sufferers produce less oil which acts as a natural barrier on the skin and so moisture and oils escape from the skin's surface, leaving it feeling dry and dehydrated.

People with combination skin often struggle with finding the right moisturiser. In fact, overdrying the skin can strip it of oils, and it often responds by ramping up production. That's why you end up with excess oil in some areas and dryness in others. Finding a good moisturising product is key to balancing your skin and keeping it hydrated and smooth all over.

Along the same lines, seeking an oil-free product may not be doing you any favours. Too little oil in the skin leads to the same feast-and-famine issues, so don't rule out a product that contains beneficial oils.

A couple of products we love:

Grown Alchemist Hydra Repair Day Cream. Sweet almond oil, fruit oils and other plant oils naturally help heal your skin while protecting it. Gently work this lovely-smelling cream into your face and neck to improve your skin's texture and suppleness.

Alpha-H Essential Hydration Cream. Evening primrose oil and jojoba seed oil gently rejuvenate your skin while other natural ingredients like comfrey root add moisture and help your skin repair itself from environmental damage. We especially like the Alpha-H cream because it can reduce redness and reduce inflammation in your skin.

Whether your skin needs hydration from the inside or a protective barrier to cover and moisturise the outside, you can find skin care products to help restore that smooth look that makes you feel your best.