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Dry or Dehydrated Skin?

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Although you may assume the two things are the same, there is in fact a difference between dry and dehydrated skin. If your skin suffers from dry patches and flaking, don’t simply surmise that your skin type is dry. Dehydrated skin is a condition that can affect every skin type, whereas dry skin, as Georgie Cleeve, founder of Oskia, explains “is characterised by hereditary small pores which produce less protecting sebum causing dryness and poor barrier function.” Dehydrated skin is the result of a lack of water in the top layer of the skin rather than a lack of oil. So now you know the difference, how to tell which one you have? Here’s a quick guide to the key characteristics.

Signs of Dehydrated Skin

Skin is dull or looks ashy

Pores can be any size

Skin absorbs products ultra-fast

Makeup can go patchy throughout the day

Skin feels dry and tight – sometimes all over or in patches

Fine lines are more visible


Dehydrated skin is usually caused by environmental factors like too much sun, wind or a lot of fluctuations in temperature. Lifestyle can also be a factor, for example a diet that’s lacking in essential fatty acids, too much alcohol or not drinking enough water. As Georgie says, “you can check for signs of dehydration yourself – use your index and middle fingers to gently push up your cheek. If you can spot very, very fine horizontal lines above your fingers, your skin is dehydrated.”

How To Combat Dehydrated Skin

If you think your skin’s dehydrated there’s a lot you can do to change it. First and foremost ensure you are drinking lots of water as this will instantly plump up skin. Also try to avoid washing with water that’s too hot as this can strip skin. “Eating foods high in water and micro-nutrients such as watermelon, and reducing caffeine and alcohol will rehydrate skin and help enormously,” says Georgie. When it comes to products, look for hyaluronic acid — a wonder ingredient that can hold 1,000 times its weight in water and is a powerful moisturiser. “DCL Hydra Boost Finishing Serum”, explains Joel Rubin, Senior Vice President of Research & Development at DCL Skincare, “is an ingenious replicator of the body’s own hydrating resource – naturally occurring hyaluronic acid – and deeply drenches, firms, plumps and nourishes skin.”

We also love Oskia Renaissance Brightlight Serum, which deeply hydrates while tackling pigmentation, while Dr Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Hydrating Modeling Mask provides a powerful instant hit of hyaluronic acid. If you’re looking for a supercharged base for makeup, By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra Primer helps to keep makeup smooth over dry patches and dehydration lines.

Oils are also very beneficial for dehydrated skin, but overly rich formulas can overload some skin types. The key, explains Georgie “is to seek out light oils high in linoleic acid as these help to balance out healthy sebum production – look for evening primrose (72% linoleic) and rosehip seed oil (44% linoleic).” Rodin Lavender Absolute Luxury Face Oil contains both and has a light, silky texture. To tackle both dry and oily patches, try Odacité Pe+C Combination Skin Serum Concentrate.

Signs of Dry Skin

Skin feels very tight

Pores are small

Skin lacks plumpness

Products are not absorbed quickly

Skin is very reactive

Skin looks and feels rough and dry

How To Combat Dry Skin

Dry skin is a type and can’t be changed, but as Joel explains, “it can be helped with diet, and by avoiding excessive time out in the sun and by choosing hydrating skincare products.” In terms of diet, look for food that contains high percentages of essential fatty acids – like avocado, mackerel and walnuts. “Dry skin is in need of lipids,” explains Joel, and as well as being part of our diet, can also be provided by skincare. Look for products rich in ceramides and vitamin E. We like DCL Profoundly Effective A Cream SPF30 as it deeply nourishes with vitamin B5 and vitamin E, and De Mamiel Intense Nurture Antioxidant Elixir to provide moisture and protection.

“Oils and balms are the best remedies for dry skin”, explains Georgie “both as a cleanser and the final layer of your daily skincare routine.” A rich cleanser for dry skin really helps prevent skin from drying out, so try an oil like Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Botanical Cleansing Oil or Votary Cleansing Oil – Rose Geranium & Apricot. Then boost your natural lipid barrier before heading out for the day with a softening, protective daytime face oil like Sarah Chapman Skinesis Morning Facial, and keep a hydrating mist in your bag – these are great at relieving the characteristic tight feeling of dry skin. We like mineral-rich Algenist Splash Hydrating Setting Mist which replenishes skin and seals in moisture.

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