I had someone tell me the other day that their skin was feeling so dry and yet oily in places, they’d become highly sensitized to everything they put on their skin, and what about this acne? It’s important to say that this “someone” was not a teenager. I love being the detective because very often in this business you have to ask a lot of questions to uncover the problem. Here’s what I found: they seemingly paid attention to their skin because they’re using good products (albeit 2 or 3 different brands), they exfoliate (a lot), they drank a good amount of water, and they saw a dermatologist (who seemingly didn’t have the right solution). There was frustration in their voice. Their skin looked parched, flaky, lifeless, dull. Sound interesting? Sound familiar?
Several things can cause imbalances such as makeup, diet, using products incorrectly, weather; and the list is long. Dehydrated skin is wily, yes wily. Cunning, deceptive, tricky. When skin is dehydrated, it wants to overcompensate, so will create more oil to make up for the missing water. This can cause confusion, breakouts, sensitivities, irritation and dry areas.
Dry Skin vs. Dehydrated Skin
- lacks oil
- is a natural skin condition from birth
- feels dry all over, including hands, legs, scalp, etc.
- is more susceptible to premature aging
- constantly needs moisturizer, especially in winter
- needs oil-rich products
- lacks water
- can be experienced by anyone, with any skin type
- can feel oily and dry at the same time
- may experience breakouts
- comes and goes based on diet, environment, incorrect product use and other factors
Very often I will say to someone, “you’re skin looks dehydrated” and the response generally speaking is “but I drink a lot of water!”. Your skin is the largest organ of your body. Your skin is the last organ to benefit from the water and food you drink and eat. So it’s important that the topical products you use penetrate and nourish the skin so it feels properly hydrated.
It’s also important to know that any skin type (dry, oily, normal or combination) can have a dehydrated condition. For example, someone with an oily skin type can have a dehydrated skin condition and is experiencing lack of water, not oil in their skin. Dry skin has almost no oil present; lack of water can increase your sensitivity because dryness and dehydration lead to sensitized skin. (And sensitive vs. sensitized is another blog, another day.)
Are you still with me?
Using the wrong products can cause dehydrated skin…very often people are using products from different lines – all at the same time. All with differing pH balances. All with differing ingredient strategies; and that really does make a difference in how they will perform. Dehydrated skin can also develop when using too many potent products at once (or applying them too often).
In this day and age, many people are very knowledgeable and product savvy. But with all that knowledge can come an overzealous approach to issues. For example, let’s say my skin is oily and dehydrated, and now acne has become an issue. I know my skin is oily but I didn’t know that these dry patches were the result of dehydration. The acne is awful! I can’t deal. To combat the acne, I’m going to use a gel cleanser with benzoyl peroxide. I need to exfoliate, so I’ll do that 3-4x/week so new cells generate quicker. I’m going to use a drying, clay mask 2x a week because I want to dry out the acne. I saw a 30% salicylic chemical peel on the internet and will use that 2x/month…And I’m going to use my cleansing brush (like the Clarisonic) every morning. You get the picture. This is very common. Knowledge is power, yes, but not having all the information can do more damage and create bigger problems than when you started.
Prescription: balance your skincare regime
Even the best skincare routines can go wrong if you get overzealous using too many treatments or using them too often. This may send your skin into a dehydrated-yet-oily, breakout-frenzy. If you’re using a prescription retinoid, such as Retin-A, an anti-bacterial product with benzoyl peroxide, and salicylic acid – one right after the other – your skin may start to feel very irritated and sensitized. Then if you add “active” anti-aging products to the mix, such as a high-strength vitamin-C or retinol serum, your skin may wind up rebelling and really start acting up.
Back to dehydrated skin
Balancing your skin is the solution. Even oily skin needs some oil for balance. Stripping your skin of all oil will exacerbate the problem you’re trying to address.
- Here are some options for dehydrated skin from G.M. Collin:
- Hydramucine Cleansing Milk (cleanse a.m. and p.m.)
- Hydramucine Treatment Mist (excellent for re-hydrating the skin – especially apply before other treatments or serums & anytime during the day your skin is feeling parched)
- Hydramucine Optimal Gel (oily) or cream (normal to dry)
- Active Exfoliant Powder (2-3x/week depending on type and condition; can be used daily)
- Appropriate mask (1x/week)
I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend that you get a deep, professional cleansing facial once a month. It’s important to deep clean your skin and make it ready to accept any serums and specific treatments you’re using to address anti-aging, for example. If those products cannot get past old, dead skin cells that have been sitting on your skin, no manner of products will penetrate to nourish your skin. You are wasting your money.
I can’t stress enough, ask your skincare professional before you start on a self-prescribed skincare regime. We can help identify what is best for you, we can guide you, and make recommendations. I think I speak for most Estheticians: one reason we got into this business was so we can help our clients look their best. What gets me jazzed is seeing my clients with healthy, glowing, balanced skin. Each person will have differing needs. But I think we can agree that everyone wants healthy, balanced, younger-looking, and glowing skin. Let us help you get there.
To your healthy and balanced skin.