I have always found it interesting that we live in a very humid climate and, yet, I see so many people that come in and say they have dry skin. Upon skin analysis, it turns out that some of them don’t have dry skin. They actually have dehydrated skin. Many people don’t realize there is a difference, all they know is that their skin feels dry. This is where a skin care professional is an important asset to your skin care journey! And here I am, your neighborhood friendly skin care professional ready to help you! So what is the difference between dry and dehydrated skin?
Dry skin is a lack of sebum. Our skin has sebaceous glands that produce sebum. The sebum is an oily substance that is one half of what makes up the protective coating on the skin’s surface. This protective coating helps keep moisture inside the skin, transports antioxidants to the surface of the skin, and helps combat against microbes. It is essential to having healthy skin!
Dry skin can be due to genetics, age, lifestyle, environment, and hormones. Throughout our lives, our sebum production fluctuates in response to hormone levels. An excess of sebum production is likely in our teenage years while a decrease in sebum production is seen in our later years. Much like excess sebum can cause problems, so can the lack of sebum. People with dry skin often look dull and may be accompanied by flaking and itchiness.
Dehydrated skin is the lack of water. The technical term for the skin’s ability to maintain adequate water is transepidermal water loss, or TEWL. Dehydration can be due to various reasons, including lifestyle (such as alcohol or frequent travel by air), age, environment, or using harsh skin care products. Even people with oily skin can have dehydrated skin. Along with dull skin, dehydrated can result in sunken eyes, dark circles under eyes, itchiness, and appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
As you can see, the importance of adequate sebum and water in our skin is vital to its health. When there isn’t enough sebum, you may experience flaky, itchy skin. When there is adequate sebum production, but not enough water, you may experience “combination skin” or oiliness only in the T-zone.
When there is a balance of sebum and water, the two mix to form a protective coating and is able to flow evenly along the face. This is why younger children look bouncy and bright – their sebaceous glands are producing enough sebum and there is enough water to keep their skin hydrated. Ahh, to be young and bouncy and bright again!
It’s important to determine if your skin is dry or dehydrated. This is where I come in! During every facial, I perform a skin analysis. Examining and touching your skin is the best way to determine if your skin is dry or dehydrated, as well as recommend the proper products to get you on the right path to healthy, glowing skin.
Every individual’s treatment plan will be different as everybody’s genetics and lifestyle are different. The one consistent recommendation is sunscreen. One vital component of having healthy skin is protecting it from the damage of UV radiation. That’s a whole ‘nother topic, so we’ll save it for another time.