I guess I should preface this by saying that I am not a skin care expert, all this is based on my (all too numerous) experiences with dehydrated skin.
What is dehydrated skin?
There seems to be some confusion as to what dehydrated skin actually is. Basically it seems that skin needs two things to stay soft, supple and smooth: hydration and oil. Hydration is there to do most of the work, and the oil is there to seal it all in so it doesn’t just leech out of the skin.
So if you have oily skin but it’s often flakey, has ‘dry’ patches, redness around the patches, or it feels tight, it might be dehydration. Basically you have the oil to seal stuff in, but you don’t have much hydration to be sealed.
It’s kind of like installing double-glazing on an igloo. If there isn’t any heat (hydration) inside in the first place, the double-glazing (oil) isn’t really going to make it much warmer. (sssh this is a very good analogy)
In winter, drier air and central heating can exacerbate dehydration issues which is why people advise adding more hydrating products to your skin routine in wintery months. It’s not just winter that can make your skin dehydrated though, if you start spending a lot of time in a place with drier air – e.g. if you move to another country, or even if you start work at an office building with mega air-con – that can be a factor as well.
1. Go teetotal
Regular readers might know I have a *bit* of an aversion to products containing high levels of alcohol. This is a personal thing because my skin is particularly sensitive to it, but for other people who don’t seem to have a reaction to alcohol then I say go for it.
However, if you notice your skin getting dehydrated or flakey, you may want to alter your routine to cut out the alcohol-products for a few months. A lot of foundations contain it, perhaps you could use a different one for now?
(not all alcohols are bad; don’t worry if you see cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, and cetearyl alcohol in your products)
2. Use a hydrating serum
This is probably the most important tip for dehydrated skin – if you had to follow just one of these tips, this is the one.
So personally, I find using an extra regular all-rounder moisturiser doesn’t really help when my skin gets dehydrated. It’s just too general use; I need something specific like a serum.
Personally I like:
- Mandom Barrier Repair – Repair Concentrate Serum (ingredients here)
- Juju Aquamoist Hyaluronic Acid Essence (ingredients here)
- If you don’t want to go Japanese – I have heard good things about (but have not used) the Silk Naturals Oatmeal Hydrating Serum
In terms of performance it’s actually about the same as the Juju Aquamoist (I put one on each side of my face for about two weeks and noticed no difference between them), but the Juju Aquamoist is a tad more expensive and it runs out really fast.
Using two pumps of the Juju Aquamoist every night gave me about 3 or 4 weeks before I started having to scrape the tiny amount of remaining product out of the bottle. Using the Barrier Repair in the same way gives me about 4 months.
As you can see from the ingredients, the Barrier Repair has more fillers so it’s more spreadable, but like I said it’s just as effective as the Juju Aquamoist. I would only recommend the Juju Aquamoist if you have a known sensitivity to an ingredient in the Barrier Repair.
3. Use an Oil
Now I know I said that dehydration is not necessarily a lack of oil, but:
- Often in drier air your regular oil production isn’t enough to keep in hydration, so you need to top up
- I find putting oil over my hydrating serum makes it more effective, probably because it seals it all in so it doesn’t just dry off your face.
- Coconut Oil
- Rosehip Oil
- Jojoba Oil
Personally I like to use Rosehip Oil on my face at night (after I’ve put on my other products). I like Rosehip Oil because it softens my skin and it contains little doses of vitamin C and vitamin A. Jojoba Oil is apparently the oil that is most similar to the skin’s natural sebum.
When buying these oils, check your local independent health shop before you go to big chains because often they do better deals. I got my Rosehip Oil BOGOF (so, two 25ml bottles for £16~) at a health shop near where I live. If you can’t find them there (mostly info for UKers):
- Holland & Barrettsell Coconut Oil
- You can buy Trilogy Rosehip Oilonline or from bigger Boots stores
- Neal’s Yard Remedies sell Jojoba Oil
I’d say this is more of a last resort if the others haven’t worked for you. Get a humidifier to restore some moisture to the air around you. Even if your dehydration issues are caused by the air-con in the office, having a humidifier in your bedroom that you can turn on while you sleep could counter-act the effects from the office that day.
(Although Japan has a wide range of portable humidifiers to solve all your away from home dry-air issues!)
Some of them plug into your computer…
5. Drink Water
Ok, truth is I don’t really have a number 5 – but I thought ‘5 ways’ sounded so much better than ‘4 ways’ – so I’m going with ‘drink water’, which is pretty sound advice for any ailment.
I will say:
Drinking water is not going to solve your dehydrated skin issues
It’s just not.
But – drinking water does improve your skin overall. I’m terrible at being vigilant with water-drinking, but when I do get it right I notice lots of (good) differences in my skin. So drink water.