Is your skin dehydrated or dry?
Angela Hodgkiss –Angelique Day Spa and Skin Clinic
Its winter and your skin feels tight, flaky, sensitive, dull, itchy and irritated. But is it dry or dehydrated and what is the difference when they both feel and look the same?
Dehydrated skin is a loss of water not oil. It is a ‘condition’ which means we can change it, unlike dry skin which is a ‘type’ and we are born with it. It can come and go. You can still experience breakouts because skin can still produce oil (unlike dry skin which typically does not have much sebum) and dehydrated skin can be both oily and dry at the same time and is common in oily skin types because we tend to dry it out with harsh products that strip the oil. If skin is pinched into a fold it doesn’t bounce back because the epidermis cannot retain water efficiently. It appears dense and dull and with a light touch on the side of cheeks the skin looks crepey. The pores can appear large and open because they are thirsty, whereas dry skin will be tight and small because the follicles are not dilating due to lack of producing oil. Dry skin can be dull looking, flaky and scaly and feel tight after washing. Dry skin can be sensitive and inflamed which leads to collagen and elastin breakdown and premature ageing.
Because we cannot change our skin type there is not a lot we can do with a dry skin apart from use gentle cleansers and nourish, nourish, nourish with good serums and moisturisers. They ARE some things however we can do to change a dehydrated skin. A few tips below will be useful for both.
As we age cells are replaced by other cells that do not hold as much water. A new born is 80% water an old person is 50%. There are also external causes such as cleansers that are too alkaline and strip the hydro lipid film, not drinking enough water, smoking that will constrict blood flow and nutrients, medication such as diuretics and illness, inadequate moisturizers and alcohol based toners, Air conditioning and dry climate, hot showers, too much salt, alcohol and excess sugar and caffeine in our diet are also big contributors.
It’s not just our skin that is affected when we are dehydrated. Our blood becomes sticky and thick which affects the transportation of oxygen around our body. It affects oxygen to our brain so that we are not as alert and it makes the heart work harder. Water helps our bodies to get rid of toxins. Not enough water can lead to an unwell feeling, increased risk of urine infection, constipation and kidney stones. Headaches occur because our brain is mostly water and when it is dried out it shrinks from the skull causing pain. Muscles become tight and cramped so are at greater risk of injury.
To combat dehydrated skin it’s necessary to treat the condition internally as well as externally. Our skin is our largest organ but it is the last organ in the body to receive nutrients and water. The epidermis can only draw what it needs from within the body. In winter it needs extra care as it’s more likely to become dehydrated due to increased time in central heating etc. Skin becomes patchy, itchy, flaky and tight and it can become rougher. First step is to restore the acid mantle and ensure the keratin cell membrane is in optimum condition so that our skins barrier is water tight and there is no additional water loss. Use serums because they penetrate deeper as they have smaller molecules. A light peel followed by moisturizer is recommended. Lactic peels are particularly good for dehydration as they are a natural hydrator and will help to exfoliate dryness and fine lines and will increase production of skin protecting ceramides.
Look for humectant ingredients such as glycerine, urea, BHA and shea butter as these are water soluble agents that work by drawing water into the skin. Be careful though because in dry weather the action can be reversed and they will suck the moisture the other way (because the air is dryer than the skin). For this reason they work best with occlusives that will stop water from evaporating such as lanolin, jojoba oil, petrolatum, evening primrose and sunflower or olive oil. Hyaluronic acid is another extremely important ingredient as it increases the natural moisturizing factor and it will hold 1000 times it weight in water and will form a protective barrier in arid enviroments. Vitamin C assists in further penetration. It is found naturally in skin, joints and tissue and it cushions and lubricates. Diet and smoking however can affect hyaluronic levels.
Essential Fatty Acids or omega 3’s are also vital in increasing epidermal lipids by protecting the keratinocyte membrane. The body does not normally produce EFA’s so they must be obtained through food. EFA’s improve blood flow in the layer below the skin so there is an increased supply of nutrients for the creation of healthy skin cells and they prevent arteries from clogging with increased deposits of bad lipids. They are anti-inflammatory and aid body’s own defence against other skin conditions such as acne, eczema and psoriasis. If our diet is too high in sugar, alcohol or trans fats the enzyme levels are most likely to low to allow our system to convert the fatty acid into what body needs. Smoking, stress and viral infections also affect conversion. Krill oil is a rich EFA and maintains cholesterol levels and is a strong antioxidant and reduces inflammation, minimises skin degeneration, and sustains healthy skin tissue. A fishy aftertaste means it is poor quality. Other good sources are Evening primrose, stearic acid, ceramides, safflower oil, salmon, fish oil, tuna, flaxseed oil, nuts, sardines, avocado and green vegies.
Food that will help restore collagen after damage has already been done, are soy, turkey, dark chocolate, manuka honey, avocado oil, dark green vegies, beans, red fruit and vegies, citrus, prunes, omegas (flaxseed, salmon, tuna, and nuts)and things high in sulphur such as olives, cucumber and celery. Supplements that will help restore collagen and promote the GAGs are flaxseed oil, copper peptides, silica, vitamin e and c, selenium, zinc. Alpha-lipoic acid can also provide the greatest protection against free radicals than all other antioxidants. Antioxidants are known to help fight future skin damage and also help repair past damage. Alpha –lipoic acid is soluble in both oil and water which means entry is permitted in all parts of the cell diminishing fine lines and giving skin healthy glow.
And of course drink LOTS of water with your DMK EFA Ultra supplements (details in previous blog)
Is your skin dehydrated or dry?