Dry skin isn't just uncomfortable. Like acne, it can also take a serious toll on your self-esteem, especially since it can be so difficult to disguise with makeup. But if you're constantly applying moisturizers to no avail, your skin may not be dry at all—you might actually have dehydrated skin. And there's a big, big difference between the two.
WHAT IS DRY SKIN?
Dryness is a skin type, like oily or acneic skin. Dry skin naturally has fewer oil glands, so it doesn't produce enough sebum to adequately keep the skin moisturized. And because it lacks the lipids required for a strong, healthy moisture barrier, dry skin can be especially susceptible to environmental aggressors like UV rays and pollution. Overall, It tends to feel tight, flaky, and itchy.
HOW TO TREAT DRY SKIN
First things first: Put down the exfoliators. Overdoing it, especially with chemical formulas, only strips your skin of the little oil it already has. After cleansing, apply a moisturizer rich in ceramides, which help strengthen your skin's barrier, then press a nourishing facial oil into your complexion to help make up for the sebum your own skin is lacking. Incorporating more antioxidants into your diet can also help.
WHAT IS DEHYDRATED SKIN?
While dry skin lacks oil, dehydrated skin lacks water. This is a temporary skin condition. (And, yes, you can have oily, dehydrated skin. Weird, right?) Dehydration is caused entirely by external factors, like the environment where you live, the weather, even your diet and caffeine intake. Experts recommend this test to determine if you're dehydrated: Gently pinch one of your cheeks and watch what happens in a mirror. If your skin stays slightly wrinkled and doesn't immediately bounce back into place, you're very likely dehydrated. You may also see dramatic dark under-eye circles, redness, and congested pores.
HOW TO TREAT DEHYDRATED SKIN
Water, water, water—your skin is begging for it. It might sound counterintuitive, but exfoliating is extra important if you're dehydrated, as water can absorb into skin cells more efficiently if it's not blocked by dead skin cells. You'll also want to incorporate a hydrating serum into your routine. Look for one infused with hyaluronic acid, which pulls hydration into skin cells like a magnet. Afterward, slather on a rich moisturizer loaded with humectants like hyaluronic acid and glycerin. Don't forget to drink your eight daily glasses of H2O, and consider investing in a humidifier, especially if you live in a dry climate.