"Before we get started, I want you to go pour yourself a giant glass of water"
Before we get started, I want you to go pour yourself a giant glass of water because chances are, if you're reading this article — your skin is likely dehydrated. But don't worry, even though we may not know it, most of us are in the same boat as you — and we're about to cover everything you need to know to get you back to that healthy, dewy, hydrated complexion. The scary thing about dehydrated skin is that many of us confuse it for dry skin, acne, fine lines, or other conditions that are harder to solve.
Having recently gone through my own dehydrated skin issues, and a lot of research, trial, and error — I'm pretty much the CEO of all topics related to dehydrated skin at this point. So whether you're in the stage of identifying dehydrated skin, learning the effects of dehydrated skin, or learning how to begin repairing dehydrated skin — I'm covering it all today in this definitive guide. Class is in session, let's dive in.
Dehydrated skin simply means that your skin is lacking water and although a relatively simple problem to solve, it can wreak havoc on the appearance and health of your skin quite quickly. Luckily, there are quite a few simple lifestyle adjustments and products that can help.
"Dry skin is a skin type, while dehydrated skin is a skin condition caused by external factors."
First, we need to make the distinction between dry skin and dehydrated skin because while they can manifest in similar ways, they are definitely different issues that require different solutions. Dry skin is a skin type, while dehydrated skin is a skin condition caused by external factors. What does this mean? Essentially dry skin is a type of skin that doesn't naturally create a lot of oil compared to oily or normal skin. And dehydrated skin is often the byproduct of your lifestyle or habits, not the natural state of your skin.
Dry skin, which lacks enough lipids, will commonly be rougher in texture, appear dry, and can be flakey. And those symptoms will be apparent all over, on your scalp and hands, not just your face. Again dry skin is naturally lacking in oil, while dehydrated skin is lacking in water, so when treating dry skin you're going to be wanting to add in more oils to your skincare routine.
Dehydrated skin, on the other hand, can manifest as tightness, oiliness, appearing less supple, appearing rough and causing breakouts. Anyone, with any skin type, can experience dehydrated skin. Your skin may produce a lot of oil, but there's no water to balance things out. This means you may experience oily and dehydrated skin at the same time. And instead of being a constant, like your genetic skin type, it's something that will come and go depending on a bunch of different factors that we're about to get into.
There are a whole host of different reasons your skin might be dehydrated, and we'll start with the most obvious… not drinking enough water. Water isn't a magic cure-all for everybody's skin issues, but it can't hurt. Your skin is sixty-four percent water, so upping how much H2O you're getting throughout the day is an excellent place to start. A study done by the International Journal of Cosmetic Science found that drinking 2.25 liters of water every day for a month changed skin density and thickness. So go take another sip of that water.
But there are a lot of other factors at play when it comes to dehydration. Stress or lack of sleep can lower the pH levels of your skin, leading to that loss of glow and youthfulness in your skin. Your diet can also play a role when it comes to dehydration if you're consuming a lot of salt, skimping on your veggies, and drinking an excess of alcohol, your skin's hydration is going to take a toll. Dehydration and a reduction in cell turnover is also a common side effect of aging, but having a good routine in place, which we'll talk about in a little bit, can be super preventive.
Next, you might want to take a look at what's in your skincare cabinet. If you're using too harsh of products, extremely stripping face washes or over-exfoliating, your skin is going to become dehydrated pretty quickly. These products can break down the skin's trans-epidermal water barrier, which helps our skin retain water.
You also want to make sure you're using products that don't just sit on the surface of your skin but actually absorb into the lower layers in order to give you that supple and dewy complexion. And finally, your external environment can be a big player in dehydrating the skin. Indoor heating and cooling systems can wreak havoc on hydrated skin, and exposure to too much sun or very cold temperatures can do the same.
Now that you know all of the factors that go into sucking all of the water out of your skin, we can talk about what exactly can happen if it goes too far.. We'll talk about the most common side effects that manifest when our skin's dehydrated and how you can address them.
Acne : Let's start with everyone's favorite skincare issue, acne and breakouts. Now, there are so many different triggers for breakouts, so make sure you do your research to figure out exactly what's happening to your skin, but dehydration should definitely be on your list of things to check out. When our skin isn't properly hydrated, it's going to try to supplement it through producing excess oil. This can clog your pores and cause congestion, which is prime breeding ground for breakouts.
Dullness : Glowing skin is always in style and maybe for the reason that it can be an indicator of good health. When your body isn't being adequately hydrated, it will decrease the amount of blood that flows to your skin, causing a dull, pale, and kind of sickly look. Which I don't think is the vibe most of us are going for.
Fine Lines : Those fine lines you seem to wake up to after you had too much to drink the night before or spent too much time in the sun are not signs of aging, instead signs that you need to get some water in your system. When we're dehydrated, our skin is thinner and can sort of become the texture of a crepe, …which is wrinkly. Our skin is unable to hold on to moisture and thus becomes sallow and not as supple. Here's how you can tell if your lines are caused by dehydration or aging, dehydrated lines are more surface level and thin. Fine lines that appear because of aging are caused by slowed collagen production, appearing deeper and more pronounced.
Dark Circles : I perpetually have dark circles under my eyes, no matter how much sleep I get it always slightly looks as though I have a healing black eye. Of course, some days are better than others, and that can depend greatly on how much water I've had. As I've said before, when our skin is dehydrated, it becomes thinner, which means that there isn't as much tissue between your skin and the bone beneath your eye, which can cause shadows to appear, resulting in under-eye circles. So even if you're getting enough Zzz's, you might need to up your H2O intake to really get rid of those dark circles.
Increased Sensitivity : As you know, dehydration breaks apart the skin's moisture barrier, creating an easier to access environment for bacteria and pollution to penetrate the skin. These pollutants can exacerbate the redness, itchiness, and irritation of your skin and leave you more exposed to other dehydrating factors. You'll be more sensitive to wind, dryness, and extreme temperatures because your skin is lacking any protective barrier.
Water Intake : It's been found that seventy-five percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated, so it's a pretty safe bet that your overall health and skin could benefit from upping your water intake. Try to get down two liters throughout the day, I like to drink a big glass of lemon water in the morning and then make sure I carry around a water bottle with me so it's easy to sip on all day long.
Diet : Yourdiet can have a pretty severe impact on whether your skin is glowy or dull, so let's make sure you have all the information on what foods are hydrating, which ones you might want to cut back on.
Caffeine, fried foods, and alcohol are some of the top offenders when it comes to dehydration. Caffeine is believed to be diuretic, which causes us to lose fluids and can dehydrate the skin. Fried foods have a higher level of saturated fats, which will affect your blood circulation. This can keep your skin from receiving all of the nutrients it needs, thus dehydrating the skin. And alcohol is very dehydrating for both you and your skin. So making sure you're drinking water along with your wine won't just save you from a harsh hangover but can also protect your skin from losing all hydration.
Now onto the fun stuff, all of the foods that boost your skin's hydration. Eating water-rich fruits and veggies is the key to upping your water intake throughout the day. Foods like cucumber, celery, radishes, tomatoes, cauliflower, watermelon, and broccoli all have a water content above ninety percent and are easy ways to keep your skin glowing.
Shower Temperature : This may seem like a smaller point, but if you're a fan of really hot showers (guilty as charged), you might be stripping your skin of its natural oils. So when you're in the shower and it's time to wash your face, try lowering the temp a few notches.
Air Quality : Air conditioners and furnaces can really aggravate your skin, which is why if you work in an office, I definitely recommend keeping a face mist on you at all times. To keep your skin hydrated, the humidity levels in the room would, ideally, be above thirty percent. One way you can amp up the humidity of your home is to invest in a humidifier.
Here's a quick breakdown of the products you should consider adding into your skin care routine if you've been suffering from dehydrated skin.
Use A Gentle Cleanser
Wash with a gentle cleanser, face washes that are harsh on the skin, filled with chemical additives, or artificial fragrances can strip your skin of moisture and throw off your pH balance. A few good options are Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser, Glossier Milk Jelly Cleanser, and CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser.
Add a Hyaluronic Acid Serum to Your Routine
Add in a Hyaluronic Acid Serum to your routine. This is a miracle ingredient that helps the skin bind and retain water. It's a humectant, which means it's pretty much a magnet for moisture and will help your cells hold onto as much water as possible. This will plump up and hydrate the skin. Some of the best high-quality options out there are Paradox's botanical Vitamin C Serum, Glossier Super Bounce Serum, Peach & Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum, and Dr. Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Hydration Booster.
Use a High-Quality Moisturizer
Use a high-quality moisturizer to help give your skin that extra boost of hydration and moisture. You should apply your moisturizer as the final step of your skincare routine so that it can help seal in all of the serums and hydrating oils that you just applied. Some super moisturizing products to add into your rotation is our Marrakech Liquid Gold, an ultra-hydrating and lightweight blend of moisturizing oils, Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Moisturizer and Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Cream.
You've made it to the end of the guide, and hopefully, you're on your way to hydrated, glowing skin (and to pour yourself another glass of water). Dehydrated skin can be annoying, but with these tips, you should begin to see improvements very quickly.
Let us know if you have any other suggestions for hacking dehydrated skin — we're always looking to add-to this article and improve it. And if you liked this article be sure to check out The Benefits of Topical Caffeine For Your Under Eyes andWhat is Face Mapping? Also, make sure to follow us onInstagram @Paradox so you're the first to see when we drop more guides like this one.
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