Dry Skin — Or Dehydrated Skin? How To Tell The Difference

Dry_Skin_intro
When it comes to our faces, we don’t rely on just anyone to tell us what our skin needs to get that ever-elusive glow. Instead, we turn to skin-care veteran (and celebrity fave!) Renée Rouleau, who knows it takes more than the right products to get radiant. Each week, she’ll be serving up her expert tips to keep your complexion in tip-top shape.
It’s winter, and your skin feels flaky, tight, and dry — or is it dehydrated? The proper diagnosis is key to treat skin with the right products and achieve a smooth, comfortable, and radiant balance. Click through to find out how you can determine your best defense against Old Man Winter this season.
Dry_Skin_1Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
What Is Dry Skin?
Dry skin is classified as alipidic, which means it doesn't produce sebum, or oil. Because skin relies on oil to hold moisture in, without it, skin can appear rough and flaky — and wrinkles are more pronounced. Dry skin can also lead to a damaged barrier function, increasing longterm sensitivity and inflammation, and causing a chain or biochemical reactions like collagen breakdown.
Prevention is the name of the game, here: Treat dry skin right by using moisturizers that contain emollients to provide a protective layer that prevents moisture loss. Look for formulas that contain ceramides, shea butter, beeswax, squalene, jojoba oil, sunflower seed oil and cetyl alcohol.
Wash with mild cleansing lotions and avoid bar soap or harsh foaming cleansers. Use gentle exfoliants: either acids or scrubs with gentle microbeads. Exfoliating helps remove surface flakiness and promote cell renewal, as they improve natural production of intercellular lipids for the barrier function. I also always recommend using a humidifier in the winter months to keep moisture in the air, and, more importantly, in your skin. Be sure to apply moisturizer within one minute after washing to prevent water in the skin from evaporating into the dry, winter air.
Dry_Skin_2Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
What Is Dehydrated Skin?
Dehydrated skin, as a skin condition, lacks water content, but may still produce oil. While it may be genetic or environmental, dehydrated skin can feel flaky and tight, and often forms fine lines easily due to the surface-cell deflation. If looked at through a magnifying glass, dehydrated skin has tiny, triangular fine lines from the lack of water, and is common among those with oily and acne-prone skin who may use harsh products that strip the skin of water.
Treat dehydrated skin by using a moisturizer that contains humectants like glycerin or hyaluronic acid, as these ingredients attract water from the environment into the skin to keep it soft and supple. Go easy on the exfoliants: Using too many acids or scrubs can make dehydration worse, causing inflammation. Cleanse with a sulfate-free gel to prevent unnecessary dehydration after washing.
Think of it like this: Because leather is dry, a leather chair needs to be conditioned with oil to prevent it from drying out. If you apply water to a leather chair, it only gets drier. Bottom line: Dehydrated skin still produces oil, but feels tight, whereas dry skin produces little to no oil and can be flakey. And, while drinking water is great for your overall health, no amount of gulping will truly hydrate your skin.
If you have any questions for me, leave them in the comment section below and I’d be happy to offer my expert advice.

More from Skin Care

As beauty editors, one of the top questions we're asked on the regular is actually pretty basic: "What should my skin-care routine look like?" And it makes...
Forget freaks and vampires: When it comes to beauty rituals, it’s our inner princesses who come out at night. It’s then that we languidly soak in tubs of ...
You always want what you can’t have — especially when it comes to beauty products. That’s why we’re getting the inside scoop from your favorite retailers ...
(Paid Content) Finding a skin-care regimen that keeps skin clear without drying it out isn't easy. Don’t you worry — we’ve got you on this one. Together ...
We know that our cell phones aren’t always good for us. Tech neck, sleep disturbances, eye strain — all actual health concerns. And of course, not cleaning...
What do you call a price increase that goes from around $240 to nearly $10,000? Words like strange, confusing, and even exploitative may come to mind. ...
Dry, scaly skin can be kind of a nightmare no matter what the season. So, in the spirit of smoother, ultra-hydrated skin, we put together a list of our ...
(Paid Content) If achieving clear, glowing, incredible skin were as easy as slathering on a single cream, we’d be the first in line to scoop it up. But ...
When it comes to pretty much, well, everything, it’s no secret that millennials expect swift service, same-day delivery, and overall efficiency. Our need ...
Since we’re all well aware of the dangers of tanning beds — and too much time in natural sunlight sans SPF — self-tanners are the perfect solution when the...
This isn't news to anyone, but I feel it bears repeating: Acne scars suck. Anyone who has suffered from post-pimple hyperpigmentation knows this truth to ...
We’ve all seen the studies about why sleep is so important — a full eight hours keeps our bodies and brains more fit, happy, and focused. As it turns out, ...
The moment when you suddenly realize you're an adult can come amid a seemingly random activity — depositing money in your newly formed 401k, making dinner ...
For a long time, the word "peel" meant one of two things in the beauty world: a) You've spent too much time in the sun sans sunscreen and are now suffering...