beauty

How you can tell the difference between dry and dehydrated skin.

Image via iStock.

Dry and dehydrated skin might be known winter afflictions – but it turns out there’s a whole lot we don’t know about them.

First up, that those with breakout-prone skin can suffer from dehydrated skin too.

So if your face is feeling tight, sensitive and as grumpy as you are about the changing seasons, you need to read this…

Related: 5 face oils that will make your skin look and feel amazing.

1. Science recap: What is dry skin?

Dry skin (or alipidic, if you want to impress your facialist) doesn’t produce oil. Oil’s job is to hold skin’s moisture in – think of it like the zip on your suitcase – so without it, moisture evaporates. Dry skin is largely genetic; sufferers consistently have skin that is tight, rough and flaky.

2. That’s different to dehydrated skin how, exactly?

Two things. Firstly, dry skin lacks oil, whereas dehydrated skin lacks water (but still produces oil just fine, which is why you can suffer from acne and still be dehydrated). Secondly, dry skin is a skin type – and therefore permanent (much like a blood group, say) – while dehydration is a temporary skin condition.

 Related: What happens when a man tries skincare products for the first time.

Dehydration is caused by external factors: weather changes (we hear you), harsh products, chlorine, alcohol, not drinking enough water, long soaks in a too-hot bathtub… anything that damages your skin’s armour-like ability to stop water evaporating too quickly.

"Dehydration is caused by external factors: weather changes (we hear you), harsh products, chlorine, alcohol, not drinking enough water, long soaks in a too-hot bathtub…"

3. Am I likely to be at risk of dehydrated skin?

Afraid so.

“I’m seeing dehydration more and more: people working longer hours in offices, dashing in and out between hot and cold temperatures – you do pay a price,” explains Patty Foustellis, consultant for dermo-cosmetic skincare brand, Avene.

Related: Noticed your skin's been oily lately? This could be the culprit.

“Our skin is 70 per cent water, with around 25 per cent of that in the epidermis (or top layer). But when I analyse skin, I frequently see people with only around 7-8 per cent hydration.”

To check which one you’re most likely to be affected by, see which of these symptom checklists you most align with:

Use a serum containing the word ‘hydra’ or ‘hydrating’. A particular favourite is Avene Hydrance Optimale Serum (RRP $59.99).

DRY SKIN:

Dry skin is a skin type and it is permanent.

The symptoms:

- Skin lacks oil and shine, and is dull

- Tingling sensation after cleansing

- Skin feels tight

- Dry patches or redness

- More sensitive to first signs of ageing (first lines of expression)

- Makeup generally stays on much longer than those with oily skin

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- Flakiness

- Very easily irritated

"Dehydrated skin is a condition where the skin has limited water."

DEHYDRATED SKIN:

Dehydrated skin is a condition where the skin has limited water. Dehydrated skin can be problematic all year round and can affect anyone, even those with dry or oily skin – but it is a reversible condition.

The symptoms:

- Skin lacks water

- Can affect anyone

- Sleeping lines or expression lines are apparent

- Tight feeling after cleansing

- Can feel oily and dry at the same time

- Large pores and blackheads; breakouts around the chin or T-zone

- Sudden increase in sensitivity

- Absorbs products quickly

- Makeup goes patchy during the day, disappearing and leaving an oily sheen (this is your skin absorbing the water from your foundation)

4. OK, got it. Now, um, help, please. 

Follow this regime if you have dry and dehydrated skin:

1. Use a milk cleanser. Avoid sebum-stripping soap, foam cleansers, or not cleansing at all. The cleaner your skin is, the deeper the hydrating effect products applied afterwards will have.

2. Tone your skin using a soothing, gentle product.

3. Next step is to use a serum containing the word ‘hydra’ or ‘hydrating’. A particular favourite is Avene Hydrance Optimale Serum (RRP $59.99).

It even works on acne-prone skin, and it is highly concentrated with Avene Thermal Spring Water, which provides long-lasting hydration to soothe dehydrated and sensitive skin. It also boosts the effectiveness of any moisturiser or treatment product applied over it. This serum is oil free and helps to restore water.

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4. Don’t skip moisturiser. Foustellis admits that many clients with problem skin are so afraid of a reaction that they abandon products. “Sensitive, dry skins are worried that they’ll aggravate or burn their skin – while breakout sufferers want to dry skin out.” But going bare adds to the dehydrated feeling.

5. In winter, use nourishing gel or oil cleansers to protect your skin and prevent tingling sensation and dryness.

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