Winter skin feeling dry, tight, or even flaky? Before you revamp your entire skincare routine, you may want to take a long, hard look at what’s actually going on with your skin. Is your complexion dry, or is it simply dehydrated and in need of water? And—more importantly—what’s the difference between the two?
Everyone is born with a unique skin type, but our complexions can also develop conditions caused by external factors. Both dehydration and dryness cause itchy, sensitive skin that feels flaky, dull and tight, but—because skin types and skin conditions are completely different things—they need to be cared for separately. Skin conditions can be treated, whereas skin type can only be managed.
So, how do you tell the difference between dryness and dehydration? Dryness is a skin type, just like normal or combination. Dry skin is classified as alipidic, which means it doesn't produce sebum, or oil. Signs of dry skin may include a dull, lackluster appearance, tightness, and difficulty absorbing skin care products. To treat dryness, apply emollient moisturizers to provide a protective layer and prevent further moisture loss. Pro tip: look for formulas containing shea butter, beeswax, jojoba oil, sunflower seed oil and cetyl alcohol.
Ulike dryness, dehydration is classified as a condition. Skin conditions are caused by external factors such as environment, diet, lifestyle, and even hormones. A dehydrated complexion lacks water, but produces excess oil to compensate for the shortage, leading to breakouts and blemishes. If your complexion is dehydrated, serums and moisturizers absorb very quickly, skin appears “ashen”, and makeup disappears rapidly from skin. To treat dehydrated skin, use a moisturizer that contains humectants, such as glycerin or hyaluronic acid. These ingredients attract water from the environment, drawing it into the skin and keeping it soft, supple and hydrated. Furthermore, avoid over-exfoliating with acids and scrubs, and cleanse with a sulfate-free cleanser to prevent unnecessary dehydration after washing.
Lastly—whether you suffer from dehydration or dryness—remember to drink plenty of water. Hydrating yourself is one of the best ways to keep your skin looking firm and glowing all year long!
Pro tip: Fish or flax oils can help with both dry and dehydrated skin, but will take at least 12 weeks of consistent use to notice a difference.
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