Understanding the science behind key skin concerns is really the first step when we are trying to address them. Once we’re aware of what is happening below the surface of the skin, we can better understand how and which different ingredients are best to address these concerns.
Here, we’re shedding some light on the underlying cause of dehydration, as well as what you can do to combat this condition.
What is the difference between dry and dehydrated skin?
While they may sound similar, these terms actually have quite different meanings. Dry skin refers to the oil content in your skin, which can fluctuate over a lifetime due to hormonal factors. Skin dryness can also be attributed to genetic factors.
Dehydration is excessive loss of water from the body. In the skin on the face, dehydration occurs when there is a deficiency of water in the surface layer of the skin, the stratum corneum. This is most often caused by environmental exposure, often aggravated by natural ageing and photoageing of the skin.
The signs of dehydration include skin tightness or tautness, flaking and fine lines. Even people with oily skin can go through periods of dehydration, so no matter your skin type, it’s worthwhile knowing what to look out for.
What are some of the symptoms of dehydrated skin?
Is your skin rough to the touch, or has it started to flake in areas? If this sounds familiar, you may have already experienced dehydrated skin. Other symptoms can include tightness, especially when you move your face, as well as a scaly texture and the appearance of fine lines.
You may additionally experience some irritation, inflammation or redness if you have developed a sensitised skin condition, which in extreme cases can lead to cracking or bleeding.
On the other hand, some people’s skin may not even show any redness or inflammation, but may instead be prone to ‘stingers’ – tingling or burning sensations that can accompany dehydration.
Why does my dehydrated skin become irritated?
When there is not enough moisture in the skin’s stratus corneum, as in the case of dehydration, this leaves it more vulnerable to irritants and foreign substances, which can result in the redness and inflammation we mentioned earlier.
By supporting our skin’s natural lipid barrier function, we can help to ensure that our skin remains hydrated, happy and healthy for years to come. However, in order to do this, you’ll need to understand what triggers sensitisation and dehydration in the first place.
What triggers dehydration?
Environmental factors: Overexposure to the sun can cause water to evaporate from our skin, which also explains why sunburned areas tend to feel especially dehydrated. Interior climate control such as air conditioning and heating, long showers, flying and certain medications can also increase your likelihood of developing dehydration and sensitivity.
The ageing process: Research has found that as we age, our skin’s natural hydration and oil flow tends to gradually decline, meaning that we can become more susceptible to dryness and sensitisation. However, the activity of our sebaceous gland and amount of oil in our skin as we grow older is greatly influenced by genetics.
Over-cleansing: By overdoing the cleansing, you can strip away your skin’s natural oil and dissolve the protective lipid barrier. Avoid excessive scrubbing and bathing, and stick to cleansing once at morning and once at night with a soap-free product that is compatible with your individual skin type.
Lifestyle choices: Your diet can play a huge role in the health of your skin. People who are on low-, or no-fat eating regimes could likely be missing out on fat-soluble vitamins (A,D,E,F,K) as well as vital essential fatty acids (EFA) that can have great benefits for your skin.
Restricting the amount of EFAs in your diet can lead to you becoming EFA deficient – a condition that has been linked to dryness, chronic itching and scaling, as well as dermatitis and eczema. As noted by the Linus Pauling Institute, polyunsaturated fatty acids such as omega-6 and omega-3 in particular can contribute positively to the appearance and health of skin.
Alcohol, as a diuretic substance, can cause us to lose fluid from increased urine production. You can help to balance out the effect of those additional bathroom trips by drinking plenty of water to keep your fluid levels topped up.
While caffeine is also labelled as a diuretic, the effects are thought to be milder than that of alcohol. In fact, you’d have to be knocking back four to seven cups of caffeinated beverages daily in order for it to have such an effect. Bear in mind that caffeine isn’t just found in your morning cappuccino, it’s also often an ingredient in tea, energy and fizzy drinks, so keep an eye out for how much you’re drinking each day.
I have dehydrated skin – what treatments are available?
Start with making sure that you stay hydrated and consume the recommended daily water intake. A balanced diet rich in EFAs and other nutrients as well as plentiful hydration are key to supporting your skin. Skincare ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, work a treat when trying to replenish skin dehydration.
When it comes to skin care, rather than self-prescribing products that can waste your time and money, as well as being incompatible with your skin, you can save yourself the hassle by consulting a professional skin therapist. With a wealth of knowledge and experience, therapists can provide advice that is specific to you, and can help to identify any personal triggers to treat your dehydrated skin.
They may suggest using a product such as Ultraceuticals’ Ultra B2 Hydrating Serum. The humectant and emollient ingredients contained in Ultra B2 Hydrating Serum help support the skin’s lipid barrier function and restore critical hydration levels within the skin.
Humectants such as Provitamin B5 and hyaluronic acid (capable of holding up to 1,000 times its own weight in water) help attract and maintain water within the skin. Enriched with anti-ageing Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide), this moisturising must-have works to visibly plump and reduce fine lines and wrinkles to give the skin a supple, dewy and more youthful appearance.