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Is Your Skin Dry or Just Thirsty?

Is Your Skin Dry or Just Thirsty?

If your skin feels tight, rough and looks flaky, doesnít it make sense to slather on an oil-rich moisturizer? Not necessarily. First, you need to determine whether your skin is truly dry or simply dehydrated. Dry skin doesnít produce enough oils (lipids), whereas dehydrated skin lacks water or moisture. The cause of truly dry skin is genetic - itís a skin ďtype.Ē Dehydration is a condition caused by outside factors. Itís important to understand the difference between the two because you can worsen your skin by using the wrong products.


What Causes Dehydrated Skin?

Any skin type can be dehydrated. It means that your skin holds less water. Dehydration is common is caused by a variety of factors, including:

   Prolonged exposure to the sun, cold or wind

   Taking long hot showers or baths

   Not drinking enough water

   Too much alcohol and/or caffeine


   Certain medications

   Using harsh skincare products


Treating Dehydrated Skin

Surface dehydration causes the skin to overcompensate by producing even more oil. The result? Not only is your skin still dehydrated, now itís congested and breakout prone. Thankfully, thereís a lot you can do to alleviate the symptoms of dehydrated skin.


Skin Exfoliation

Exfoliation will help shed dead skin cells so that your moisturizer can do its job. If you donít exfoliate, moisturizer will only help the dehydrated ďflakesĒ on your skinís surface. For immediate results, use a gentle scrub after cleansing. Another option is to use manually exfoliate with a damp washcloth. For the best long-term results, incorporate a mild BHA or AHA product into your skincare regimen.   

Gentle, Oil-Free Products

Strong cleansers and toners are often the culprits behind dehydrated skin. For many people, harsh cleansing disrupts the skinís barrier function and the acid mantle, making it more susceptible to dehydration. Try a gentle milky cleanser and avoid products that contain drying alcohols. Use an oil-free moisturizer without active ingredients. Look for products with hyaluronic acid - a moisture magnet that helps bind water to the skin.   

Diet and Lifestyle

Drink at least eight glasses of water a day - more if youíre a big coffee, tea or soda drinker. Hate drinking plain water? Sip herbal tea or make a healthy cocktail with sparkling water and your favorite juice. Snack on fresh, juicy fruits and eat fatty fish like salmon as much as possible. Take daily medication? Add an Omega-3 supplement at every meal.


Dry Skin Symptoms and Treatment

Dry skin tends to worsen with age. As we get older, our skin produces less oil (sebum) and dead skin cells shed less often. The result is dull, flaky and rough skin. The same outside factors that cause skin dehydration can exacerbate dry skin types. In addition, Menopause causes skin dryness because of the drop in the skin-plumping hormone, Estrogen. In addition to adhering to a healthy lifestyle, aim to protect and rebalance dry skin with the right products. Combat dry skin with these tips:

   Wash skin with a mild, non-foaming cleanser that wonít strip lipids from the skin. Never use bar soap - it is much too drying. If you need a toner, only use one with an alcohol-free formulation.

   Dry skin needs exfoliation too. Use a washcloth for manual exfoliation and a product with AHA a few times a week. Consider visiting your esthetician for monthly lactic or glycolic peels.

   Use a rich, oil-based moisturizer. To avoid feeling greasy during the day, try a lighter cream.

   Protect your skin daily with sunscreen - SPF 15 or higher. Over time, sun exposure contributes to dryness and loss of elasticity.


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