Does your skin feel dry… or is it dehydrated? (Hint: they’re not the same thing). If your skin lacks proper moisture, you can give yourself a boost by adding in hydration. Learn how to understand the state of your skin, how to hydrate skin, and the benefits of proper skin hydration here. Read on for some great skin hydration tips.
Dehydrated Skin Vs Dry Skin: How To Tell What Your Skin Needs
Although they sound similar, dehydrated skin and dry skin are not necessarily the same thing. To properly address your skin’s needs, it helps to take a closer look and understand which one you are experiencing. Depending on whether your skin is dry vs dehydrated, your approach may be different.
Dry skin lacks oil. People who experience dry skin tend to have fewer oil-producing glands than others. With fewer glands, their skin produces less sebum than those without dry skin. This lack of sebum means the skin does not have the lipids it needs to retain moisture and build a strong barrier.1
Signs of dry skin:
- Flaky skin
- Redness or irritation
- Itchy skin
- Areas around the eyebrows, nose, and mouth are especially dry
Since dry skin is affected by internal factors (the number of glands a person has), people with dry skin may experience these signs frequently.3
Dehydrated skin lacks water. This is typically because the skin is losing more water than it is bringing in. This can be caused by external factors, like the environment, weather, natural aging, and your diet.4
Signs of dehydrated skin:
- If you pinch the skin, it takes a while to bounce back
- It feels tight
- It looks dull
- You may notice more wrinkles
- You may see dark circles under your eyes5
Since dehydrated skin is affected by external factors, it may be easier to address than dry skin. Change the external factors, and you may change your skin’s hydration level.6
Why Is Skin Hydration Important?
From an aesthetic standpoint, hydrated skin looks more plump, luminous, and healthy-looking. Who doesn’t want that? When you learn how to hydrate skin, you can help support skin firmness and elasticity.7 Proper skin hydration may also help with the appearance of wrinkles.8
Additionally, hydrating your skin may help combat oiliness. When your skin is dehydrated, it actually produces more oil to compensate for the lack of hydration.9
And lastly, when your skin is dehydrated, your skin’s moisture barrier is not as strong as it could be. A compromised barrier can lead to more moisture loss, changes in the structure of your skin, and worse problems down the road. It is 100% worth it to keep your skin hydrated.10
How To Care For Your Skin And Keep It Hydrated
The good news is that you can manage dehydrated skin with just a few lifestyle and skincare changes.
Seek Out These Hydrating Ingredients
To reach your full potential as a skincare maven, you’ll want to learn how to read product labels and identify ingredients that will work for you. When it comes to skincare ingredients that hydrate, there are three main types to look for: humectants, emollients, and occlusives.
- Humectants: Humectants pull in water, bind to it, and hold it in the outer layer of the skin. Examples are hyaluronic acid, glycerin, aloe vera, and lactic acid. Humectants work best when they are layered under a cream or oil to help seal in moisture.11,12
- Emollients: Emollients help fill cracks in the skin barrier, which can soften and soothe skin. Common emollients are shea butter, ceramides, and fatty acids. Emollients may perform better when they are paired with humectants and occlusives.13,14
- Occlusives: Occlusives help prevent water loss by sealing moisture into the skin. These are commonly waxes or oils, such as safflower seed oil, jojoba oil, and squalane. Since occlusives act as a barrier, they will typically be the last step in your skin care routine.15,16
Ideally, your skincare routine will include some combination of humectants, emollients, and occlusives. Experiment with layering products that contain each of these ingredient types – start with a hyaluronic acid cleanser, followed by a ceramides moisturizer, topped with a facial oil containing squalene, for example.17
Create A Skincare Routine Using Hydrating Products
Just to really bring this idea home – if your skin is dehydrated, reach for hydrating skincare products In fact, even if your skin doesn’t seem dehydrated – hydrating products are probably still a good idea. Moisturizing the skin makes the surface softer, smoother, and more pliable.18
There are many hydrating products on the market. Here’s a suggestion for a routine you can adopt to help hydrate your skin:
- Hydrating cleanser. Look for one with hyaluronic acid to help your skin absorb moisture
- Hydrating toner or elixir. Know that alcohol-based toners can dry your skin out. Reach for one that hydrates.
- Hydrating serum. Serums with moisturizing ingredients are often also designed to help with the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
- Moisturizing cream. Great moisturizers are a beauty-lover’s best friend. Look for one that contains humectants, emollients, and occlusive.
- Hydrating face mist. This can both hydrate and give your face a “glowy” look in a matter of seconds.
- Facial oil. This can boost your skin’s lipid layer and help lock in moisture.19,20
If your skin has a tight and dry feeling after cleansing, you may be cleansing too much. Beauty experts recommend washing your face only twice a day (and maybe even once a day if you have dry skin). Washing too frequently can strip your skin of its barrier protection and cause you to lose moisture.21
Switch To A Gentle Cleanser
The type of skin cleanser you use matters, too. If you’re washing your skin once or twice a day and it still feels overly dry, you may need to look closely at the ingredients in your cleanser. Cleansers that are marketed for oily skin typically contain drying ingredients. Instead, look for a gentle, hydrating cleanser that contains ingredients like hyaluronic acid.22
Switch Up Your Shower Routine
Raise your hand if you love taking long, hot showers and baths. If this is you, you may be inadvertently dehydrating your skin. Showering with hot water can strip your skin of its natural, protective oils. When these oils are washed away, your skin’s protective barrier is weakened and water can escape.
Instead, try taking a shorter ten minute shower with lukewarm water. When you hop out of the shower, pat – don’t rub – the skin partially dry, and then apply your regular moisturizer.23
Run A Humidifier
If the environment is drying out your skin – whether it’s bitter cold winter outside or the “environment” you’re dealing with is an overactive office air conditioner – a humidifier may help. As the name would suggest, humidifiers add humidity to the air. This can help provide the skin with the moisture it needs and help it retain that moisture.24
Take Hydrating Supplements
Hydrating skin supplements can work to revitalize skin from the inside out. Look for a supplement that contains skin-healthy ingredients, like hyaluronic acid and hydrolyzed collagen.25
Regularly sloughing off dead skin cells can help the absorption of moisturizers into the skin. For skin that looks fresh and glowy, aim to exfoliate once a week with a gentle scrub or chemical exfoliant. Don’t forget to moisturize afterwards to add moisture back in.26
Drink Plenty Of Water
While drinking glasses of water won’t directly hydrate your skin (unfortunately), it may help. Drinking water flushes your system and hydrates your cells and the rest of your body. In any case, drinking water has so many potential health and beauty benefits that pushing yourself to drink a bit more throughout the day is always a good idea.27,28
Make Some Skin-Friendly Changes To Your Diet
What you eat and drink impacts your skin’s hydration level. For optimal hydration, try to adopt these changes:
- Eat foods with high water content – like cucumber and strawberries, which can contribute a large amount of water to your diet.29
- Eat foods rich in antioxidants, like mangoes and kale, which may help protect your skin from free radical damage.30
- Eat fatty fish, like salmon and mackerel – they give you omega-3 fatty acids, which can help your skin stay moisturized.31
- Eat more healthy fats from foods like nuts, seeds, and oils. They can help support your skin barrier functions.
- Reduce your intake of alcohol, coffee, and foods high in sodium and sugar. They can all dehydrate your skin and prevent you from looking and feeling your best.32
Always Wear Sunscreen
UV rays can damage your skin’s barrier and lead to dry skin. No matter the season, applying SPF should have an important role in your skincare routine. Look for a mineral sunscreen that uses zinc oxide as one of the active ingredients. They may be better for your skin than chemical sunscreens.33
Proper Skin Hydration Is Just One Habit Away
Dealing with dehydrated skin is a bummer, but here’s the silver lining: there are so many skin hydration tips you can follow. Adding moisture to your skin is almost always a good idea. Try adopting a few new habits now to set yourself up for optimal hydration. Watching things like your diet, water intake, and skincare ingredients is relatively easy – and it just may result in smooth, glowy skin.
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