Dry and dehydrated skin are often used interchangeably to describe your skin feeling parched, flaky, itchy, and uncomfortable,” says Dr. Jennifer David of Dermatology Partners and founder of Skin & Scripts Virtual Dermatology. While those are indeed symptoms of both dry and dehydrated skin, “they have two different meanings,” she adds. It might not seem like a big deal to differentiate between the two, but it’s essential to treat each properly. Below, we tackle their nuances, plus how to find relief for each.
- What it is: “Dry skin is a skin type — just like oily skin or combination skin — and it describes a lack of sufficient production of sebum or oils,” says Dr. David. “Dry skin is chronic,” she adds.
- What are the symptoms: Dry skin is significantly exacerbated during the dry and cold winter months. Symptoms include roughness, flaking, tightness of the skin, increased sensitivity to products, and irritation. “People with dry skin will also be prone to eczema and contact dermatitis,” she says.
- Why it occurs: “Environmental factors such as exposure to hot water, cold air, and lack of proper water intake contribute to dry skin,” says Dr. David.
- What it is: “Dehydrated skin is a temporary skin condition where the skin lacks sufficient water,” says Dr. David.
- What are the symptoms: Dehydrated skin will come and go. In addition to signs of roughness, flakiness, and tightness that it shares with dry skin, “you will notice less elasticity of your skin and more prominent wrinkles. A quick test to assess for skin dehydration is to do the ‘pinch test’ on multiple areas of the body, like the back of the hands, face, and abdomen. If you pinch the skin between your index finger and thumb, and it snaps back down quickly, your skin is well hydrated. If you pinch the skin and it stays indented for a few seconds before going flat, your skin is dehydrated. The length of time your skin stays tented before relaxing back down is directly proportional to the degree of dehydration your skin is experiencing,” she says. With dehydrated skin, you might also notice more oil production, ironically, as your skin is trying to make up for the fact that it’s lacking water. So, you may also see an increase in breakouts and irritation.
- Why it occurs: Dehydrated skin can be due to various reasons like your diet, not using your beauty products correctly, or the environmental impact on your skin.
Treatment For Dry Skin
You cannot change the skin type you are born with, but there are multiple ways to make dry skin more manageable. Since dry skin lacks oil, you want to concentrate on a lipid-rich beauty routine that supports your skin barrier and blocks dryness.
Moisturize with Ceramides
“When treating dry skin, try moisturizing with cream-based products with a high number of emollients,” says Dr. David. The right moisturizing products will seal hydration into your skin to keep water from escaping. Focus on ingredients like ceramides, which are protective lipids in your outer skin layer. Sunday Riley Ice Ceramide Moisturizing Cream pulls hydration in and strengthens your moisture barrier. Apply morning and night, and don’t neglect the neck and décolletage.
Because dry skin doesn’t produce as much oil as other skin types, it’s crucial to have a top-performing skin oil in your regimen, like Sunday Riley Juno Antioxidant + Superfood Face Oil. This oil works to fortify the skin with a much-needed antioxidant boost, along with vitamins, essential amino acids, and omegas 3-6-9. This multitasker also works to moisturize other parts of the body that tend to experience dryness, like cuticles, hair, elbows, and knees, and is safe for pregnant women.
Treatment For Dehydrated Skin
Treating dehydrated skin is about replenishing the lost hydration that your skin craves.
Use Lukewarm Water
While a piping hot shower or bath sounds relaxing, it’s not doing dehydrated skin any favors. “Hot water will dissolve all the natural lipids and damage the skin barrier,” says Dr. David. Limit your shower or bath time to five to 10 minutes and use warm, not hot, water.
Avoid Alcohol & Caffeine
Nothing against happy hour or that morning cup of joe, but alcohol and coffee are two of the worst offenders for this skin condition. “Both alcohol and caffeine are diuretics — substances that make our bodies lose water and urinate more frequently. They should be avoided when skin is dehydrated,” says Dr. David.
Steer Clear of Harsh Soaps
It’s essential to choose mild, non-stripping soaps free from fragrance and alcohol. Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser features green clay, bentonite, and white kaolin that gently cleanses while adding essential hydration to rebalance your skin.
Moisturize with Humectants
“When treating dehydrated skin, you want to focus on moisturizing with products that are humectants — a.k.a. ones that are water-loving,” says Dr. David. For example, you can follow up your cleanser with a hyaluronic acid-based moisturizer that attracts water to the skin and helps to retain cell moisture. C.E.O. Afterglow Brightening Vitamin C Gel Cream features sodium hyaluronate, another potent humectant blend that pulls hydration into the skin over time for long-lasting moisture.
Add an Essence
Essences work to resurface, balance, and firm the look of skin. Add a peptide-infused option, like Sunday Riley Pink Drink Firming Resurfacing Essence, for a refreshing boost of antioxidant support and to restore your skin microbiome.
Use a Humidifier
Introduce a humidifier, like dermatologist-recommended Canopy, to add some moisture back into the air — and your skin.
P.S. Whether you have dry or dehydrated skin, your skin will always benefit from a great exfoliator. “Look for an exfoliating product with lactic acid since it is both a humectant that will aggressively hydrate the skin and a chemical exfoliant that will remove the top layer of dead skin cells,” says Dr. David. Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment instantly sloughs off dullness and dead skin cells due to thirsty or dry skin.
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