Dehydration and Dryness: are they different?

Dehydration is an extremely common skin condition that most everyone deals with, yet it often flies under the radar as the culprit. We often like to remind people that your skin is made up of 70 percent water, meaning when the hydration balance is disrupted, it is noticed very quickly. Unfortunately, some of the main causes of dehydration are inevitable, such as stress, the environment, and central air conditioning. However some can be controlled, like your amount of water intake and limiting the use of diuretics (hello, alcohol and caffeine!) Too much coffee and/or alcohol is detrimental to the skin, as they quickly drain your skin’s hydration levels held within the epidermis. And as always, this could also point directly back to the skincare products you are using.

How is dryness different from dehydration?

Dryness is a skin type meaning the lack of naturally produced oil. Dehydration, on the other hand, is a skin condition that describes the lack of water in the skin’s epidermis. This means that your skin can be both dry and dehydrated, meaning you are lacking both oil and water. Although dryness can be a permanent skin type, it can also be seen as seasonal and temporary. Unlike dehydration, where pores can be small or large, those with dry skin have small pores, often pronounced by flakiness. Your skin might not want to “drink” in products. If good skincare products, alongside a proper routine, are not utilized, the dryness can easily be exacerbated. As with dehydration, skin will not look nourished and have a pronounced dullness.

How do I know my skin is dehydrated?

When your skin is dehydrated, it will clearly look less plump and nourished than usual, wrinkles may look more pronounced, and the lack of glow (or dullness) will be prominent. You may also see tiny, web-like "crepe-ey" wrinkles on the surface of your skin and notice an overall tightness. Other skin conditions may also become more inflamed, such as acne, rosacea or milia. If you notice your skin having flare-ups with products that you routinely use, this could also be a sign of dehydration.

Remember that dehydration is simply a lack of water, meaning you could have a classic oily skin type, but also be dehydrated. Your skin could be oily and pores enlarged, but your skin will still feel tight. For all skin types, you will notice that your skin “drinks in” moisturizers much more quickly than usual. It is also easily identifiable if you wear foundation (specifically, powder.) Makeup will become patchy throughout the day, as your skin is absorbing its moisture and leaving behind the residue.

So what do I do now?

To recover, drink as much water as possible, as well as eating water-heavy foods. If you notice your skin is constantly dehydrated, fish oil supplements can be of much help, as well as sleeping with a humidifier. Upping your source of omegas can help revitalize your skin and keep your skin’s moisture level (and amount of glow) in check. Stay away from sulfates in your cleansers (as always), silicones in your moisturizers, and keep your eye on products that contain hyaluronic acid, which retains 1000x its own weight in water.

For dry skin, try to incorporate more oils in your skincare routine, even add a drop or two of high-quality oils into your moisturizer and try to stay away from any products with high alcohol content which typically strips the skin of its natural oils and pushes skin into "overdrive" (to overproduce oils).

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