Today were going to go over dry skin and dehydrated skin, and why its such a problem for some people. I personally suffer from dry skin and have most of my life. So, I wanted to go over what it is, what the root cause of it is, and how to deal with it.
Having dry skin is very different from having oily skin. There are many different skin types, and many things that affect them so let's go over all of those now.
WHAT IS DRY SKIN?
What is Dry skin? Dry skin a condition typically called xerosis, its a skin type just like oily skin. It's caused by a compromised skin barrier. A compromised skin barrier means that the oils and lipids on the top layer aren't in balance to create the barrier over your skin which prevents moisture loss. Having dry skin is when your skin is lacking the natural oils to create the protective barrier on the epidermis. This makes your skin prone to many different bacteria's, prone to break out, prone to UV damage and oxidative stress and prone to have more sensitivity.
Dehydrated skin? Dehydrated skin is from lack of hydration internally. If you're not drinking enough water and liquids or they are somehow not being absorbed due to a mineral or electrolyte imbalance, then the moisture isn't making it to the top layer of the skin to keep it from drying out. A way to tell is the skin will be itchy, it can have an uneven complexion, dullness, more noticable fine lines, and bags under the eyes. A great way to hydrate from the inside is to eat water rich food such as watermelon, juicy fruits, cucumbers and other water rich veggies. Also making sure you're getting enough sodium. Now dry skin on the other hand is a skin type. The difference is that with dry skin no matter how hydrated you are, you may need to always apply extra products to your skin to prevent it from losing moisture.
Enviromental factors can play a large role in affecting the skin barrier. If you live in a hot arid dry climate, then the second you go outside your losing moisture. If you live in a humid wet climate, then chances are you will be pulling in moisture from the environment into your skin and can make skin oilier.
What products deal with each issue? Are they different?
The difference is there are products that impart moisture, and products that prevent moisture loss. Occlusives, emollients and humectants. Depending on your skin that is going to determine what you need the most. But if you're dehydrated you really just need to hydrate properly that will help your skin more than any product. Applying products to dehydrated skin is like putting a band aid on it. There are also products that can cause dry skin such as retinols and retinoids. I dont ever recommend these type of products as they arent natural and will damage your skin in the long term.
OCCLUSIVES, EMOLLIENTS, and HUMECTANTS
There are three separate types of moisturizers- occlusives, emollients and humectants. All of these falls under the category of moisturizer's and yet they all have different properties and different functions. Let's go over examples and definitions.
Emollients help to restore the skin barrier and soften skins texture examples of these are Lipids, oils, shea butter, colloidal oatmeal, coco butter, and typically creams and lotions that contain water.
Occlusives create a barrier over the skin to trap moisture. Examples are, Coconut oil, Tallow, Shea Butter, Ghee, Squalane Oil, Jojoba Oil, so basically the saturated fats which are thicker in consistency. Waxes, Lanolin, Vaseline, and mineral oil.
Humectants pull water into the skin from either the air or from deep skin layers. Examples are Glycerin, Aloe, Honey, Snail Mucin, Lactic/Citric Acid, Lanolin so the lighter products that contain some water. There's also Hyaluronic Acids but those aren't typically very natural in my opinion.
If you notice some of these can fall under two categories such as shea butter being an emollient and occlusive. Same goes for jojoba its classified as an occlusive and emollient. Although jojoba is a weak occlusive in my opinion as its not thick or heavy enough to create a barrier for very long. Better occlusives are Tallow and shea butter. Coconut oil is classified as an occlusive, but i wouldnt choose coconut oil as one for myself. Coconut oil is actually very drying and it seems to suck the moisture up to itself and remove it from the skin. Coconut oils is great when mixed with other things in my opinion.
Dry skin types can benefit from all of these categories but especially the occlusive ones. Since they seal and create a barrier on the skin to prevent moisture loss. One area that can exasperate dry skin is over cleansing and over exfoliating. If your skin is not producing enough oils to protect itself than its wise to lay off the harsh cleanser and scrubs. These will continue to strip and irritate the skin even more causing more damage. Using an oil-based cleanser or just water can greatly reverse chronic dry skin. In doing this you are not stripping the skin of any oils but adding an occlusive which will seal and trap in moisture preventing dryness. Using a hydrosol prior to the occlusive is another amazing way to add moisture to your skin.
As someone who struggles with dry skin I will say since I've incorporated a hydrosol, tallow and jojoba oil into my daily routine consistently, I don't have dry skin anymore. My skin is actually never dry. If you struggle with chronic dry skin my best advice would be to make sure you are properly hydrating, which means drinking at least half your body weight in ounces a day. And to make sure you are providing the proper minerals for your body to hydrate itself ie enough salt and electrolytes. And stopping with the cleansing and toners. Using a hydrosol is a great natural way to add moisture to the skin and is also a natural toner.
Another great way to tell if your skin is dehydrated is the pinch test. Pinch an area of skin on your body preferably thinner skin and if it doesn't settle right away after letting go but stay slightly pinched for a few second then that would be a good indicator of being dehydrated.