February. As months go, it isn’t a favourite is it? The only saving grace in the dreary, cold, greyness is that it’s a short month so it’s over quicker!
While we don’t have the harsh winters of some areas of the world…the change in the seasons, the drop in temperatures, the low humidity and how we compensate lifestyle-wise during the colder days, can lead to us saying repeatedly “oh my skin feels so dry at the moment”.
The reality is, your skin is more likely to be dehydrated.
But dehydrated and dry skin, it’s the same thing, right?
As a basic overview:
Dry skin is lacking in lipids (oil)
Dry skin feels like unhappy skin, it feels a size too small and often itches. This is a biological skin type that is genetic and hormonally driven, but the symptoms can be exacerbated by environmental, product choice and lifestyle factors.
Typical signs of dry skin include:
- Feeling tight all year round
- Areas of patchy dry skin on scalp and body as well as the face
- Skin texture may be uneven, prone to flakiness, redness and sensitivity
Dehydrated skin is lacking in water
This is a reactive state caused by inadequate hydration, it is NOT a skin type. Any skin type can become dehydrated, even oily skin. Dehydrated skin is symptomatic of lifestyle, environmental and seasonal conditions.
Typical signs of dehydrated skin include:
- Wrinkles appear more defined
- Dark circles may appear more pronounced
- Complexion may seem dull and uneven
- Breakouts make occur as the skin overcompensates with oil for the lack of hydration
Skin Barrier 101
Winter is a tough time for our skin. We go in and out of central heating, up the temperature in the bathroom soaking in hot baths or taking extra time in hot showers, all of which contribute to unsettling the skin barrier function. Add to this, the wrong choices for skincare products that strip away essential moisture and our skin is often left not looking it’s best.
Our skin barrier is the outer layers of our skin that form our protective shield to external aggressors and our biological maintenance system to retaining hydration within the skin.
When we damage the skin barrier function, it leads to increased issues for dry skin and can leave any skin type dehydrated, as precious moisture is lost.
To visualise how the skin barrier functions, think of it like the tiles on your bathroom wall. The tiles represent skin cells and the grout that holds them in place and creates structure are like the lipid barrier in skin that maintains hydration levels and protects from external aggressors that threaten the deeper structural integrity of the skin. Ceramides and other natural moisturising factors such as essential fatty acids, are the ‘grout’ and when barrier functionality is compromised, the essential hydration that circulates within the deeper layers of the skin structure starts to escape. This is known as Trans-Epidermal Water Loss, or TEWL.
This passive loss of water from the skin to the environment leaves skin vulnerable to irritation, inflammation and bacteria.
When the skin starts to go into crisis mode due to the depletion of essential moisture, it begins to overcompensate by producing more lipids as it feels the natural lubrication of the outer skin layers is impaired, this can result in overactive sebum production, which can lead to breakouts.
Dehydration can occur in any skin type from the driest to the most oil prone. Understanding the signs of dehydration in oil prone skin for example can lead to more effective management as often the over active oil production would lead sufferers to compensate by opting for treatments that are further accentuating the issue by stripping the skin back in an attempt to control the oil, when in fact this simply makes things worse.
But it is also manageable through reparative action to the barrier function.
The key here is helping to create support for the barrier function.
Look for products that are replenishing with ceramides, omega oils, plant butters like shea and oils such as squalane that are rich, yet easily tolerated by skin that may be susceptible to irritation. These ingredients help create a seal on the skin surface and lock in nourishment and hydration to support the skin’s natural reparative process.
Ensure you use appropriate cleansing products. A cream cleanser will be a more mild solution to removing the dirt and impurities of the day. Dr Hauschka Cleansing Cream is specially formulated to ensure it does not upset the pH level of the skin and helps keep the skin barrier intact.
Exfoliating needs to be non-physical. It is still important to use exfoliation to assist the turnover of surface skin cells and clear the path for fresh skin to emerge, stimulating blood flow and helping smooth the complexion. But using anything to scrub the skin will cause trauma that will in turn exacerbate the issue further of sensitivity. Lactic Acid is a mild AHA exfoliator that is derived from milk, so it gently moisturises while also gently resurfacing, thereby causing minimal upset to the skin’s equilibrium.
For moisturising, the key is locking in hydration from serums and nourishing skin, soothing irritation and relieving redness. Try Trilogy's Ultra Hydrating Cream to rejuvenate your complexion.
Drawing hydration to the skin is essential for dehydrated skin, so looking for moisture magnets like Hyaluronic Acid is key when choosing a product. Light, easily absorbed products that will penetrate and replenish the deeper moisture layers and work hard to draw moisture into the skin and plump from within are your go-to.
Caudalie is excellent for well structured, easy to navigate collections for differing skin needs. For me, the Vinosource range is a perfectly accessible solution for dehydrated skin with deliciously light textures that absorb effortlessly and are not over complicated with ingredients.
For hydration essentials, I would suggest the Vinosource S.O.S Thirst-Quenching Serum. It is so light and feels super soothing on skin that feels parched.
One of the most essential things to remember is that dehydration is a reactive state and therefore many lifestyle decisions can help influence solving the symptoms.
- Avoid hot showers and baths
- Reduce alcohol consumption
- Drink plenty of water
- Choose a broad spectrum UV protection to help neutralise the damage of free radicals. Check out this post I wrote for a deeper dive into SPF.
BEAUTY INSIDER TIP
Prior to applying your serums and moisturising products, one of my absolute heroes and a quenching essential is the Caudalie Grape Water Spray.
It seems decadent, but it is honestly the most addictive and skin settling treat. A spritz before your hydrating products helps prep skin to absorb and transport the goodies deeper into skin and then you can spritz any time you feel your skin needs a little soothing, calming or general pep up. I also use it when applying makeup using my sponge and also to set a dewy finish.