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Thirsty? Here's How to Treat Dehydrated Skin

If dehydrated skin has been bothering you but you’re not sure what’s causing it or how to fix it, you’ve come to the right place. In this Glowday article, we’ll outline the main causes of dehydrated skin, what to avoid and how to treat it.

What is dehydrated skin?

First things first, dehydrated skin is often mistaken as a skin type but, in fact, it’s a skin condition. And a temporary one at that. So, if you have dehydrated skin, the great news is that it’s not, necessarily, a forever thing. There are ways to improve it. But what exactly is dehydrated skin? Well, it actually comes about when the skin is lacking water. But it’s not to be confused with dry skin. Let’s take a quick look at the differences before we speed on to the signs of dehydrated skin…

Dehydrated skin vs dry skin

As I just mentioned, dehydrated skin occurs when the skin is lacking water. Dry skin, on the other hand, is caused by a lack of oil - i.e. when the sebaceous glands are not producing enough oil in the skin. Also, where dehydrated skin is a skin condition and can be ‘fixed’, dry skin is actually a skin type and, while there are things you can do to help improve the appearance, if this is your skin type, you’ll likely always have dry skin. It’s also worth noting that you can have dehydrated skin and dry skin at the same time. You might be thinking, hmmm but my skin is oily, but I’m sure it’s showing signs of dehydration. And yes, it’s possible, equally, to have dehydrated skin and oily skin at the same time.

Signs of dehydrated skin

Ok, so now we know what skin dehydration means, now let’s take a look at what dehydrated skin looks like. Signs of dehydrated skin include…

  • Visible fine lines
  • Inflammation
  • Redness
  • Sensitivity
  • Congestion - i.e. a build of oil, dead skin cells and impurities in the pores
  • Flare ups

Any of these sound familiar? Could be that you have dehydrated skin. Hmm, so if you have this skin condition, what can you do? Let’s take a look - first at the causes of dehydrated skin and then how to treat it.

What causes dehydrated skin?

Ok, so if you’ve identified your skin as being dehydrated, it’s totally treatable, but knowing what’s caused it is part of knowing how to avoid it in the future. The most common causes of dehydrated skin are…

  • Cleansing too much

If you’re using soaps or harsh cleansers, this can cause the skin to dry out, sapping any water from it. Equally, cleansing too often can also be an issue, as it saps water your skin is holding onto.

Scrubbing over zealously or using harsh chemicals too often can be another cause of skin dehydration.

  • Using too many products in your skincare routine (particularly harsh ones)

Another common cause of skin dehydration is having an over complicated skin routine using products that are too harsh for your skin - too much too soon.

  • Air quality (i.e. very hot and very cold)

Hot weather and cold weather are culprits too when it comes to dehydrated skin, as they cause the skin to lose water.

  • Alcohol and caffeine

Natural dehydrators, alcohol and caffeine are also major reasons for dehydrated skin. This is because they are both diuretics, causing more fluid loss, which, in turn, makes the skin parched.

  • Not drinking enough water

This is, probably, the most obvious one, but a lack of water intake throughout the day - particularly on top of the factors above - will lead to various effects on the body. It’s not just you who will feel thirsty and dehydrated; your skin will too. Afterall, if a flower is deprived of water, it wilts. So you can imagine the impact on your poor skin.

Dehydrated skin: what to do

Treating dehydrated skin isn’t complicated, thankfully, and there are plenty of things you can do to help improve the skin condition. Here are some top tips on how to treat dehydrated skin…

  • Stay hydrated - i.e. drink more water. If you hate water, try adding a couple of slices of cucumber or lemon to freshen it up and add a bit of flavour. Of course, there are flavoured waters and sparkling water too if that’s more your vibe.
  • Exfoliate. Just not excessively. Exfoliating can, obviously, be a factor in dehydrated skin, but this is when you do it too often or too rigorously. But it is important to exfoliate in order to prevent dead skin and oil building up and clogging pores. The best thing to do is to speak with an expert to get individualised advice, based on you and your skin, about how often you need it.
  • Use a cream cleanser. Foaming cleansers and harsh cleansers can lead to dehydrated skin, so it’s best to switch them out for a gentle cream cleanser instead, which will clean your skin beautifully and keep it hydrated.
  • Pay attention to what ingredients are in your skincare products. It’s easy to get carried away with new and exciting looking products, but it’s important to know whether they’re right for your skin. There are certain ingredients that will help your skin hold onto water for longer. These include:

- Hyaluronic acid (HA). HA is a humectant - i.e. a moisturising ingredient - that grabs water from the atmosphere and keeps it in the skin. And it’s incredible at holding up to 1,000 times its weight in water! That means smoother, plumper skin with fewer signs of ageing. Nice!

- Peptides - another example of a humectant, and a string of amino acids that are the scaffolds for proteins in the body. There are tonnes of different types of peptides, but many have great benefits to the skin, like boosting collagen and elastin, protecting and repairing the skin barrier and providing hydration.

- Glycerine. Yet another humectant, glycerine, like HA, takes water from the air and draws it into your skin’s outer layer, and it’s a great way to keep skin moisturised and hydrated.

These ingredients can be found in a multitude of different skincare products, from oils to moisturisers. If you’re unsure of where to start, chat with a skin care professional, who will be able to point you in the right direction based on your individual skin needs.

  • Use plenty of occlusives. Occlusives are generally associated with moisturisers, as they’re great at locking in the moisture that’s already in our skin. So, if you’re taking all the steps above, an occlusive moisturiser is like the seal that keeps all that lovely hydration trapped in.
  • Adjust skincare with seasons. Of course, skin changes throughout the year, depending on the different seasons and temperatures. So, to help keep it looking fresh and feeling hydrated, you’ll want to adjust your routine - sometimes just slightly - to move with the seasons. We have some great articles on this, so be sure to check those out.

And that’s a wrap! Everything you need to know about dehydrated skin explained. While it can feel uncomfortable and might even get you down at times, it’s great to know that dehydrated skin is totally fixable if you follow the simple steps above. Remember, dehydrated skin doesn’t have to be forever!

Looking for some personalised advice on how to treat dehydrated skin? Glowday lists thousands of incredible healthcare professionals. Check out their profiles and find your new skin BFF now.

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