For a long time I didn't know the definition or what the difference was between 'dehydrated skin' and 'dry skin', but came to the conclusion that I suffer with both. But why suffer? There are products out there to really help these skin types but you just have to be persistent with them to notice any differences.
This was the mistake I was making, my skin was breaking out BADLY on my cheeks and jawline from about the age of 20 to 22 and I couldn't understand why. I'd always had spots as a teenager but never badly enough to call it acne. I'd get them in the usual teenage places as well, ie. the t zone. So when I started getting large painful spots on my cheeks when I was past the 'teenage stage' I had no idea why. I kept putting cleansers for acne and topical acne treatments on my skin in the hope it would clear up, and while it helped the spots themselves, it didn't help prevent further ones from developing. I figured finally that it wasn't bacteria causing the spots (from not taking make up off properly or grubby fingers), but it was the fact that my skin was so undernourished that it was going absolutely mental as a result. The number of harsh treatments I was putting on my skin was making the problem a whole lot worse too and my skin was never recovering.
It took me literally 2 years to realise this, but it's amazing what you can learn from doing some research on skin; how it works and what it needs. So firstly I'll describe what the difference is between dehydrated skin and dry skin, then list some products that can help them. You may find that you suffer from none, one or both, but hopefully it will help a few of you who know that during the winter months your skin needs that extra something to help it through the cold.
Dehydrated skin: Now technically this is more of a temporary skin condition than a skin type, and can happen even to people who have oily skin. It is not about oil, it is about water content of the skin. When skin doesn't get enough water, it literally deflates, and no longer looks plump and smooth. It can feel tight and itchy and cause lines on your face. This can be genetic and something which you will always need to control or it could be because you are an acne sufferer who uses harsh treatments on your skin. These treatments suck the water out of your skin, leaving it really damaged and undernourished. So whilst you're treating the problem of the spots, the rest of your skin is suffering and will probably cause you more spots. This is why, in many cases, milder acne remedies are better if your skin cannot cope with the harsher things.
What should you treat it with? Dehydrated skin needs its water replaced fast. Look out for products that contain Glycerin, Hyaluronic Acid, Sodium PCA, Sorbitol, Allantoin or Propylene Glycol. These ingredients help attract water into the skin and help it stay there to nourish the skin. Hyaluronic Acid is particularly good as it is produced naturally in the body, so products containing this are really giving your skin a helping hand in getting more water, and will help your moisturiser sink in and work more efficiently. Always keep your skin hydrated, so when you get out of the shower, moisturise straight away to help retain as much moisture as possible. Never let your skin dry without doing this. For acne sufferers, do not use harsh chemicals like benzoyl peroxide or glycolic acid as this can really strip your skin and leave it inflamed. Also do not over exfoliate your skin as you may break down too many layers of skin and decrease your skin's natural barriers. Instead, as a test, quit using acne treatments for a while and just focus on gently cleansing and moisturising. If you find a month on that your skin is no clearer, then introduce natural acne treatments like tea tree oil but only use it directly on the spot and nowhere else on the skin.
Product recommendations: Hydraluron Moisture Booster by Indeed Labs £24.99 from here. This product is a serum which you put on after you've cleansed and before you moisturise. It is designed to help your moisturiser work better because it will really help draw the water from it and into your skin. I have used this product and it really is excellent at making the skin look plumper and more healthy. Another good product to achieve this is Ren’s Max Moisture Concentrate £32 from here. Also use gentle cleansersand toners without alcohol or fragrance. There can be a lot of nasties in fragrance that they don't have to list on the back of a product.
Dry skin: Dry skin on the other hand is a skin type where the skin does not produce enough natural oil (sebum). Without oil, skin can appear flaky or have a rough surface. Often, the pores will be small due to there not being enough oil to dilute them. Extremely dry skin can also cause it to be more sensitive and as a result appear inflamed or react easily to make up or skin products. You can tell if you've got dry skin by feeling its surface, and also if you wear foundation you can see how different types react with it. If you use a matte foundation, you will most likely struggle to make it blend, it will appear flaky and just sit on the surface highlighting any lines you have. However, if you wear a more dewy foundation, it will look like a new layer of skin as opposed to oily and will most definitely suit you better. As we age, our skin also gets drier, and the collagen in our skin decreases. Women who have reached menopause will often notice drier skin due to the hormone estrogen decreasing in their bloodstream.
What should you treat it with? Your skin needs help to combat the fact your skin isn't producing enough oil. Make sure you're using non-comedogenic/hypoallergenic moisturisers because you don't want to clog your skin up with layer upon layer of thick creams. Try Avene's Hydrance Optimale Riche £13.50 from here which will nourish your skin without clogging. You can also use a vitamin E oil which will absorb really easily and instantly make your skin appear smoother. Try The Body Shop's Vitamin E Facial Oil £11 from here. Or alternatively a super oil that I am a big fan of is Pai's BioRegenerate™ Rosehip Oil £20 from here which really helps to recover damaged skin as rosehip as regenerative properties.
If you find like me you suffer with both dry and dehydrated skin, then really focus on using gentle cleansers, and ideally ones where you don't have to use tap water. Tap water can disrupt the natural pH balance of the skin and cause more harm than good. A good option here is Dr Nick Lowe's The Secret is Out Cream Cleanser from here. A brilliant face mask that you can use overnight is Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask £20 from here. This is the best mask I have used for making skin moisturised and healthy.
You also must look at the bigger picture; my hair is dry and my lips and hands always chap and crack... WHY DIDN'T I NOTICE MY FACE WAS THE SAME?! Spots can be deceiving. So just take into account the rest of your body and how it reacts with certain times of year or conditions. These little things can let you know what your skin is asking for and what we mustn't ignore!
So overall, you need to pay close attention to your skin and how it changes as you age. I was naive to the fact that I was getting older and my skin was no longer the oily t zoned place it was at 16! My skin's needs have changed and we must make ourselves aware of that change before we make lasting irreversible damage.
Really hope this has helped some people out there whose mind's are frazzled with figuring out their skin type!