I remember how during teenage I was laughed at in class for calling an eraser a rubber! Just because I am a writer doesn’t mean I was able to differentiate between things since the time I came out of my mother’s womb, you know.
Blame it on this “scarring” experience, I’ve tried to understand the difference between things that might sound similar, but actually aren’t the same. The case in point today is that of dry and dehydrated skin.
Surely, they might sound like potaito-pataato to you, but guess what? They’re actually pretty different skin conditions.
Let’s start by understanding dehydration first
Well, if your skin is dehydrated, it means that it lacks water.
“Dehydration of the skin can be caused by many external factors, but the most common are weather conditions, environment, diet, and caffeine consumption,” points out Dr. Pankaj Chaturvedi, managing director, consultant dermatologist, and hair-transplant specialist, Medlinks Hair Transplant Clinic, Gurugram.
Basically, if you’re not drinking enough water, or your diet is majorly based on junk/packaged foods and lacks fresh fruits, vegetables or if you’re living in a highly polluted area, or simply if the weather is too dry/hot; it can suck the moisture and water from your skin, leaving it dehydrated.
But, why does it matter?
From a cosmetic point of view, dehydrated skin loses its suppleness, plumpness, and elasticity, making your skin more prone to getting wrinkles and fine lines as a result.
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From a health point of view though, a study published in Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology explains how lack of water in the skin can make the skin’s barrier function weaker and make it more vulnerable to environmental irritants.
Additionally, inadequate water content in your skin can make it more difficult for the cells to flush out the harmful toxins from the body effectively.
Then what the hell is dry skin?
“Dry skin a type of skin, which lacks sebum (an oily substance secreted by the sebaceous glands that help keep the skin and hair moisturized), or oil. This means that the skin doesn’t have an effective protective barrier on the surface to prevent water loss from the skin,” explains Dr. Chaturvedi.
“This leads to dryness and roughness of the skin, which becomes more sensitive due to the absence of that protective barrier of its natural oil,” he adds.
How can you figure out if you have dry or dehydrated skin?
According to Dr. Chaturvedi, dry skin is characterized by fewer oil-producing glands on the face and body while dehydrated skin is characterized by the lack of water and moisture content in the skin.
He is also quick to mention the fact that although dehydration is more common in people with dry skin, oily skin can also be dehydrated. Mostly because, people with oily skin tend to use skin-drying products, which suck the moisture along with the oil from the skin, leaving it dehydrated.
Got too complex? Here’s a small test that can help you identify:
Dr. Chaturvedi suggests taking a simple self-conducted test to determine if you have dry or dehydrated skin. All you’ve got to do is to pinch a small part of your cheek using very gentle pressure.
“If your skin ends up wrinkling despite the pressure being very gentle instead of holding its shape, it means that your skin cells need water and your skin is dehydrated,” he mentions.
“Dehydrated skin will feel tight, look dull in the mirror, and you may notice more exaggerated wrinkles along with more prominent dark circles beneath your eyes,” he adds.
On the other hand, dry skin might appear flaky, rough, red, and even scaly and might be more prone to breakouts and inflammation.
If the test result reads your skin’s dehydrated…
Firstly, don’t freak out. You can always nourish your skin and regain its lost suppleness by eating right.
“Oral antioxidants, fruits rich in electrolytes etc. are quite helpful in preventing dehydration of the skin,” suggests Chaturvedi.
Additionally, serums or creams containing hyaluronic acid, vitamin c, coenzyme Q can enhance the water-holding capacity of the skin and keep it hydrated, according to him.
In fact, applying natural ingredients such as honey, aloe vera gel, and glycerin can also help your case.
If the test result reads your skin’s dry…
If your skin is dry, in all probability, it might even be dehydrated. So, apart from ensuring its hydration with the help of the steps mentioned above, you can even rely on an oil-based moisturizer, plant oils such as natural coconut oil, and shea butter to nourish it.
It’s time you identify the exact signals your skin is showing and give it what it really needs to have that glowing, supple skin again!