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Health and Hydration: How to recognise and treat dehydrated skin.
Skin Institute
February 20, 2018

They sound similar, but dehydrated skin and dry skin are not the same. Dryness is caused by a lack of natural oil in the skin, while dehydration means your skin lacks water. It’s possible to have both dry and dehydrated skin, but you may just have one or the other. The good news is, there are a range of treatments and preventative measures that can help you prevent and treat both dryness and dehydration.

Most people use a moisturiser or oils to prevent dryness, but don’t do anything to combat dehydration. This can cause skin to look rougher, older, and less healthy. Dehydrated skin doesn’t just look damaged, it also tends not to function as effectively. If your skin is dehydrated, you’re more likely to experience problems like eczema, rosacea, and sensitivity. Dealing with dehydration can help solve these problems as well.

Understanding the signs and causes of dehydration can help you avoid its effects, and treat it if it does occur.  Here’s our rundown on the basics of dehydration:

What is dehydrated skin?

Healthy, hydrated skin contains 10-20% water. If your skin drops below 10% water, it becomes dehydrated. The natural moisturising factor (NMF) of your stratum corneum, or outer layer of skin, attracts and retains water to create skin hydration.

To keep your skin well hydrated, this protective barrier needs to be healthy and functional. Unfortunately, there are a number of factors that can cause dehydration in skin – whether younger, older, or somewhere in between.

In younger people, chemical dehydration is common. This is caused by stripping the skin’s NMF with overuse of cleansers, masks, and scrubs – particularly harsh products containing alcohol. Lifestyle factors such as alcohol, smoking, and certain medications can also dehydrate young skin.

For older people, product use can be a factor, but sun exposure is usually the main cause of dehydration.  Ultra-violet (UV) rays in sunlight break down hyaluron in your outer layer of skin, and cause your skin to lose its natural water content. Because hyaluron is what gives skin it’s elasticity and firmness, damage to these fibres makes it harder for your skin to retain its shape, resulting in lines and wrinkles. The more fibres are damaged and the more water is lost, the deeper and harsher these wrinkles will appear. This is why sun exposure and the resulting dehydration is a major cause of prematurely aged skin.

Dehydration: signs and symptoms

Think of hydrated skin as a grape and dehydrated skin as a raisin, with all the moisture removed. Hydrated skin tends to be plump, smooth and firm, while dehydrated skin feels dry, flaky and rough. If skin is dehydrated for a long period of time, you will start to notice fine lines and wrinkles forming.

Because it affects your skin’s protective barrier, dehydration can make your skin more reactive to products and environmental factors. If you find that your skin is increasingly sensitive to temperature or certain skincare products, it may be dehydrated.


How to hydrate your skin

To treat damaged skin and reduce the signs of dehydration, you need to replenish your NMF and balance your stratum corneum. This will increase the water content and lead to stronger, healthier, less sensitive skin.

The simplest first step is drinking more water. Drink 6-8 glasses of water every day, so your skin cells will have the water content they need to maintain health. Your diet can also have an impact. Fruit and vegetables – especially leafy greens, brassicas, tomatoes, and citrus fruits – are essential. Nuts, whole grains, eggs, salmon, and fortified milk can also be beneficial. It’s about giving your body – and your skin – the nutrients it needs to keep your skin cells healthy and hydrated.

The next step is preventing water loss through outside elements. Avoiding the sun at peak times, wearing a hat and clothing to protect skin when you’re outside, and using a good sunscreen can all help prevent sun damage.

It’s also essential to establish a good skincare regime. Cleansing, exfoliating, and moisturising/protecting all have roles in helping skin stay healthy and hydrated.

A good health and hydration regime will include products designed to help your skin attract and retain moisture. Active ingredients in these products include hyaluronic acid , sodium hyaluronate, glycol, and propylene. These are all humectants, which help bind water to skin cells. Urea helps reduce water loss and skin irritation.

At Skin Institute, our expert skincare team has years of experience treating dehydration and premature aging. The best way to find out whether your skin is dehydrated is by seeing one of our professional skincare consultants. They’ll be able to assess your skin’s condition and recommend the best products and treatments, depending on your skin type and the results you’re looking for.

If you are suffering from dehydrated skin, these are some of the most effective hydration products we recommend:

Aspect Dr Hydrating Mask
Nourish, balance, and calm dehydrated, irritated skin with this luxurious super-hydrating mask. Active ingredients include hyaluronic acid, to help bind water to skin cells, as well as skin-softening shea butter, olive oil, and grape seed extract.

Synergie Potent C Serum
This potent serum is super-hydrating, protects against damage from UV rays, and stimulates collagen production, which helps reduce fine lines. Natural olive squalene and powerful antioxidant grapeseed butter help make it effective.

Aspect Dr Hyaluronic Serum
This serum hydrates your skin, reduces water loss, and soothes irritation. Ingredients include calming aloe vera leaf, panthenol, niacinamide, and sodium hyaluronate.

By giving your body the hydration and nutrition it needs to keep your skin cells healthy, and protecting your skin from outside factors with the right products, you can keep your skin healthy, hydrated, and younger looking.  In-clinic treatments can also be beneficial. One of the newest, most powerful weapons against dehydration is our Dermagun treatment. This game-changing skincare advancement delivers hyaluronic acid directly into skin for immediate, effective rehydration. Find out more about Dermagun.

The expert team at Skin Institute can help you identify signs of dehydration, and help you find the right products or treatments to help. Book an appearance medicine consultation now.