How To Treat Dry & Dehydrated Skin on the Face?
Do you feel like your skin is dry and dull, flaky or scaly on your face? Check out our top tips for dry skin and find your ideal routine to moisturize your skin and improve its look and feel.
Have you ever noticed that your skin is dry or sensitive after the summer, when the cold winds start blowing, or after using a new exfoliating toner? Sometimes, no matter how much moisturizer you apply to your dry skin, it still feels dry and tight and you don't know what to do? If so, here are some tips to help you transform your dry and flaky skin into healthy, beautiful skin.
What is dry skin?
Dry skin, as the name suggests, is a condition associated with a lack of moisture in the outermost layer of the skin, the epidermis, due to low oil or water content. Medical names for dry skin include xerosis, xeroderma and asteatosis. It is usually not serious, but it can be irritating or itchy and can promote the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
This uncomfortable condition can develop on any part of the body and affect anyone at any age, although it is more common in older people because the skin thins and sweats less as we age. In addition, some people may have dry skin due to skin conditions such as eczema, contact dermatitis, atopic dermatitis and seborrheic dermatitis.
How to diagnose dry skin?
Your dermatologist can easily diagnose dry skin by examining your skin and asking you about your medical history and daily habits. But you may not have the time or want to spend too much money to see a professional. Don't worry, here are two easy ways to determine your skin type at home.
1. The Bare-Faced Method
Start by washing your face with a mild cleanser and gently patting it dry. Leave the skin bare and do not apply any other toners, serums or moisturizers. After 25-30 minutes, look and feel at the skin on your cheeks, chin, nose and forehead.
If you feel that your skin is dry or slightly tight, especially if you smile or make other facial expressions, and there is no visible shine on the nose and forehead, you most likely have dry skin.
2. The “Blotter Sheet” method
This quick and effective test helps to easily differentiate between oily and dry skin. Press a clean piece of blotting paper on different areas of your face. Be sure to dab gently and not rub. Then hold the paper up to a light to see how much oil has been absorbed: the more oil on the paper, the more oily your skin is. If the paper absorbs little or no oil, you probably have dry skin.
For best results, we recommend that you perform this test mid-day or in the evening. Dabbing your skin too soon after cleansing may skew the results.
Here are some common symptoms of dry skin:
- Cracks or fine lines on the skin
- Rough texture
- Excessive itching
- Peeling or flaking skin
- Redness on the skin
- Skin that feels tight
- Skin that stings or burns
- Skin infections
- Chapped or cracked lips
What causes dry skin?
Dry skin on the face can result from many factors. While some people are born with naturally dry skin, there are other external factors that can promote dry skin. What's interesting is that even if your skin is naturally oily, you may develop dry skin from time to time. Here are some common causes and risk factors for dry skin:
- Cold, dry weather
- Unhealthy diet
- Aging and hormonal changes
- Vitamin or mineral deficiency
- Excessive exfoliation
- Harsh detergents or soaps
- Hot showers or baths
- Unbalanced skin pH
- Sun damage (UVA/UVB rays)
- Chlorine in swimming pools
- Underlying skin conditions such as psoriasis or dermatitis
- Certain medications such as statins and diuretics
Why is my skin so dry even when I moisturize?
If you regularly moisturize your skin but still experience persistent dryness, you may be using the wrong moisturizer. Make sure your face cream doesn't contain ingredients that can dehydrate the skin, such as isopropyl alcohol or sulfates.
Or you may have dehydrated skin instead of dry skin. What does this mean? Read on to understand exactly what the difference is between these two skin issues.
What is the difference between dry and dehydrated skin?
It is important to understand that there is a difference between dry and dehydrated skin. Dry skin is used to describe one type of skin, while dehydrated skin is a temporary skin condition that can affect all skin types. For example, even oily skin can suffer from dehydration, which can lead to an overproduction of sebum (resulting breakouts) as the skin tries to compensate for the lack of water.
Many believe that dry skin is due to a lack of moisture, but dryness is caused by a lack of oil (sebum), natural moisturizing factors (NMF), which are naturally produced in healthy skin. These include amino acids and urea, which help bind water in the skin and strengthen the skin's protective barrier function against moisture.
Dry skin tends to flake or scaly and is accompanied by redness, sensitivity and irritation. It is often impaired with a deficient skin barrier that makes moisture loss more frequent and increases sensitivity to certain ingredients. Dehydrated skin is often confused with dry skin and lacks water in the uppermost layer. When your skin is dehydrated, you feel tightness and you may also experience some sensitivity.
While the signs of these conditions are similar, there are subtle differences: dehydrated skin can look duller and fine lines, wrinkles and dark circles can become more visible due to a lack of moisture that gives the skin plumpness. A quick trick is to pinch a small area of your face and if it doesn't bounce back quickly or wrinkles easily, your skin may be dehydrated.
** Want to learn What's the difference between moisturizing and hydrating?
The best skin care tips & routine for dry skin
Luckily, the two types of treatments are similar. In many cases, dry and dehydrated skin can be treated in the same way by helping to boost hydration and the moisture barrier to help retain moisture and reduce the potential for water loss.
Take a lukewarm shower and bath
According to dermatologists, it's a myth that drinking lots of water improves skin hydration and gets rid of dry skin. However, drinking water is certainly good for your health and it can't hurt to drink lots of water and stay well hydrated.
The good news is that when you take a bath or shower, water adds to those layers when you wet your skin. However, it's important to remember to avoid extended contact with hot water, especially long, hot showers and baths.
Prolonged exposure of the skin to high temperatures can compromise the skin's innate barrier function by depleting the skin's natural surface oils, increasing dryness and aggravating conditions such as eczema. Cooler or lukewarm showers, even if only a few times a week, keep the skin healthy and well hydrated.
Use a mild "Sulfate-free" facial cleanser
Avoid SLS, especially if you have hard water. Persistent dry skin and irritation is a common symptom of chronic use of hard water for cleansing. Dry skin may be caused by high mineral content found in hard water which being left to dry on the skin may clog pores and cause dryness, triggering breakouts, flaking and itching.
When calcium and magnesium in hard water react with fatty acids in a face and body washes, and bubble baths, unpleasant coagulation occurs. As a result, your skin doesn't get cleaned properly and the chemicals leave a residue on your skin.
Sodium lauryl sulfate is an anionic surfactant, naturally derived from coconut and/or palm kernel oil, that acts as a foaming agent used in most personal care and grooming products such as shampoos, lip balms, hand sanitizers, shaving foams, hair dyes, makeup removers, foundations and facial cleansers.
Also, steer away from hard soaps containing tallowate or sodium cocoate, as these can also be problematic for dry skin. Look for a cleansing cream, milk or balm that is labeled "sulfate-free" so that it doesn't dry out your skin and leaves it soft, supple and smooth all day long.
Moisturize daily and properly
For dry skin type
To combat dryness, you need to incorporate a thicker, richer moisturizer into your daily skin care routine. Generally, these heavier face creams contain more oil, making them the best choice for extremely dry and cracked skin.
The best moisturizer for dry skin is one that contains occlusive lipids such as shea butter or ceramides, which can smooth and soften the skin, acting as emollients, another type of moisturizing agent, and creating a physical barrier on the skin to keep it moist and hydrated. In addition, facial oils can also help reduce transepidermal water loss, allowing dry skin to retain more of its natural moisture content.
For dehydrated skin
For dehydrated skin, layering is key. Use a toner, serum, day cream and night cream containing antioxidants and humectants that help draw moisture to the skin's surface and retain water so the skin doesn't dry out quickly.
Common humectants found in ampoules, lotions and balms are aloe vera, honey, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, sodium hyaluronate, sodium PCA, various glycols, panthenol (vitamin B5), peptides and amino acids. Regular use of hydrating face masks or sheet masks can also help keep the skin soft and supple.
Check the ingredients of cosmetic products
Many people are surprised to learn that their favorite makeup or cosmetic products used on a daily basis can cause skin dryness. According to experts, harmful ingredients to avoid if you have dry skin are alcohol, fragrances, parabens and preservatives.
While benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and retinoids are best suited for people with oily skin and superficial acne, they remove oil and can make dryness worse if you have particularly dry skin. In addition, ingredients such as menthol or camphor provide a cooling sensation but can be incredibly drying. These ingredients can be used, but in moderation.
Be smart and gentle with exfoliation
Regular exfoliation is essential for both, dry and dehydrated skin. Use gentle, non-abrasive ingredients to help remove flakes and dead skin buildup and promote skin cell renewal without stripping the skin's natural oils.
If you have dry, sensitive or acne-prone skin, stick to a washcloth or konjac sponge and a mild chemical exfoliator, as mechanical exfoliation can be too irritating for this type of skin and cause micro-tears.
AHAs are the most common exfoliating acids for dry skin. Glycolic acid and lactic acid help to remove dead skin cells from the outermost layer of the skin and promote healthy skin turnover.
If you have sensitive skin, opt for a chemical peel that contains PHAs, as they are much gentler on the skin due to their larger molecule size. Just be wary of over-exfoliating and keep it to one or two times a week.
Always use a sunscreen
Sun exposure increases water loss from the body, which causes dehydration and further drying of this skin type. After sun exposure, your parched skin can look thicker, rougher and flakier, and feel tight to the touch, making it look wrinkled and tired. So it's important to protect your skin from daily sun damage. UVA rays, including long UVA rays, penetrate deep into the skin and can accelerate the signs of photoaging, while UVB rays cause sunburn and damage the upper layers of the skin.
If you have dry skin or are in winter, you should opt for a sunscreen that is moisturizing and contain ingredients that nourish and soothe the skin, such as ceramides, hyaluronic acid, glycerin or aloe vera. Choose denser sunscreens or lotions that have a creamy texture, rather than a gel-like texture or a matte foam type, which is better suited to oily skin.
Mineral sunscreens with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide have a thicker consistency and often have moisturizing properties, making them ideal for dry or dehydrated skin. Make sure your sunscreen is broad-spectrum and has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher to reduce the risk of skin cancer and protect skin from sunburn. The SPF of your sunscreen only indicates protection against UVB, but the higher the SPF, the more it also protects against UVA.
Invest in a humidifier
By now you know that cold, dry air can lead to all sorts of problems, such as dullness, dryness, flaking, and premature aging. When there's less humidity, the air can sometimes draw moisture through the skin. Fortunately, a humidifier is designed to put moisture back in the air, which helps reduce the chance of the air pulling hydration out of your skin.
For this reason, many dermatologists agree that humidifiers can be incredibly helpful for those dealing from dry, dehydrated and itchy skin, cracked lips and limp hair, as they help increase the moisture in the air to an optimal humidity level (between 40-60%) to alleviate these undesirable problems.