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August 23, 2022
Since we have talked about oiliness and oily skin in depth in our previous post (you can read it here), we are going to go the opposite side of the spectrum and talk about dry and dehydrated skin.
The truth is, dry skin is a complicated one, because many people do not actually know there is a significant difference between “dehydrated skin” and actually “dry skin”. In fact, according to renowned cosmetic dermatologist Rachael Eckel, only 15% of the population have genetically dry skin, an actual skin type——telltale signs being invisible pores, no acne and dry body skin. Whilst, dehydration refers to a skin condition that can affect all skin types including oily, combination, dry and sensitive skin.
In other words, if you have acne and enlarged pores, you are most likely dehydrated, not dry.
Let’s first help you understand the difference between dehydrated skin and dry skin.
Dehydrated skin, simply put, does not have enough water, either because it does not have enough water to begin with, or the skin cannot retain water due to a damaged barrier. More often than not, it is a result of one of the many external factors, including but not limited to low humidity, UV rays, harsh wind, abrasions, diet, alcohol, and caffeine consumption, using the wrong skincare products and methods, sleep, etc. In other words, for most people, when the skin feels ‘dry’, it is actually dehydrated.
Moreover, because the skin will try to repair the damaged barrier by secreting more sebum, parts of the face may become oily, with enlarged pores and acne.
Some signs of dehydrated skin include:
Dry skin genetically produces less sebum than normal skin, meaning the skin does not have the lipids it needs to retain moisture and build a strong barrier to protect against moisture loss and external aggressors. When the barrier is fragile and damaged, the skin becomes prone to itchiness, sensitivity and inflammation. In fact, dry skin is more often than not dehydrated as well, since the barrier’s water retention function is deteriorated.
Other factors that can contribute to dry skin include malnutrition, weight loss, age, hypothyroidism, hormonal imbalances, and chronic kidney disease.
Typical dry skin characteristics include:
Because dry skin simply does not have enough oil, there will often be no improvement despite using creams and moisturizers, as their major function (for most of them anyway, depending on their formulations) is to prevent water loss, and not providing adequate amount of lipids, and thus do not provide the skin with what it really needs! The better way is to incorporate an oil-based serum that can provide the lipids and nutrients dry skin really needs so as to repair and maintain the barrier, while soothing sensitivity and inflammation.
Now, although dehydrated skin (a condition when any type of skin lacks water) and dry skin (a skin type that genetically lacks oil) are very different in nature, taking care of them are surprisingly quite similar.
Whether your have dehydrated or dry skin, your skin barrier is the most important piece of puzzle to all your skin concerns, so protect it at all costs!
First of all, use a gentle non-foaming cleanser, and no harsh foaming cleansers, scrubs, cleansing brushes, and soap. Also, do not pick, scratch or rub the skin. This is because the constant friction and alkalinity can break down the skin’s lipid barrier, and with a damaged lipid barrier, the skin won’t be able to retain moisture or block out bacteria and irritants, which will lead to dryness, dehydration, inflammation, irritation, and even acne, premature aging and hyperpigmentation.
Secondly, use water around 38℃ - 40℃ to wash the face——water too cold won’t get rid of dirt and daily grimes efficiently, and water too hot will damage the barrier.
Thirdly, wear sunscreen, and preferably make up as well. The former will protect the skin from UV rays, and the latter will form a physical barrier between the skin and environmental aggressors, both of which can damage the skin barrier.
And finally, avoid harsh alcohol in skincare products. It is often used to help with evaporation for a lighter, fresher and dry-to-touch sensation, but it is also this particular property that may irritate the skin. These drying alcohol usually appear as Alcohol, Alcohol Denat., Isopropyl Alcohol, Methanol and SD Alcohol in a product’s ingredient list. When used in high concentrations, they deteriorate the skin’s protective barrier, rendering it ineffective at keeping moisture in and bacteria out, while stimulating oil production. These all may lead to dryness, irritations, and breakouts.
MARIE REYNOLDS LONDON
Goji Mallow Cleanse™ <- Click to shop
Purifying Cleansing Beauty Cream <- Click to shop
When your skin is dry and flaky, your first instinct may be to pile on hydrating serums and heavy moisturizers as you think the skin is weak and fragile. Guess what, this is when you actually need to exfoliate!
Dry and dehydrated skin tends to be dull, rough, and even prone to acne. This is because layers of dead skin cells are sitting on top of the skin, which means not only would it be unable to reflect light, making the skin appear dull and lacklustre, your skincare products also won’t be able to do their job such as hydrating and moisturizing, no matter how effective they are. These dead skin cells will also trap dirt and bacteria inside the skin, which will then result in inflammations and acne.
Use an acid product that contains AHA, BHA and PHA will help dissolve the bond between dead skin cells to speed up and ease the naturally turnover process, as well as unclog pores, preventing acne and blackheads. This way, products will be able to penetrate better, pigmentation will fade faster, and the skin will become smoother and more radiant. Over time, it will also increase collagen and hyaluronic acid deposition and synthesis over time.
Do however avoid products with Glycolic Acid though, as it can be irritating to the skin due to its smaller molecular size.
holi(bright) Resurface Glass Face Mask <- Click to shop
No. 9 Exfoliant <- Click to shop
When dish-washing liquid is squeezed on a dry sponge, it won’t get distributed evenly on the sponge to effectively clean the dishes. The skin after cleansing is just like that. Without that extra water, all those serums, oils or moisturizer won’t get absorbed and distributed properly in the skin; whereas when they are put on damp skin, penetration will be much better.
Moreover, without enough water in the skin, there is nothing for moisturizers to seal in! Thus it is important to replenish the skin with water first within 60 seconds of cleansing or exfoliating with a hydrating toner that contains a variety of hydrating ingredients.
A variety is key here, because while hydrosols like rose water and lavender water can provide multiple benefits for the skin, they only give hydration at the time of contact, and cannot continuously pull in hydration. Thus besides hydrosols and water, also look for humectants such as glycerin, aloe vera, honey, panthenol, allantoin, beta-glucan, lactic acid, oat, and cucumber, which help pull in water for the skin like a magnet.
In addition, do not rely on hyaluronic acid. It works by pulling water from its surroundings to the epidermis. When the air’s humidity is over 70%, it can pull water vapour from the air to hydrate the skin. Nevertheless, when the humidity is low (such as in an air-conditioned room), it will instead draw water from the dermis (the second layer of skin) to the epidermis, which can potentially make the skin more dehydrated deep down.
holi(water) Hyaluronic Pearl & Rose Essence <- Click to shop
Ultra Revitalising Elixir <- Click to shop
People often think only water loss mostly happen during colder months, the truth is, air-conditioning, the sun, and sweating also accelerate trans-epidermal water loss. To compensate for this water loss, it is essential to replenish the skin with extra hydration.
A hydrating serum, unlike a moisturiser that is generally high in occlusives that lock in hydration rather than adding back to the skin, delivers a cocktail of highly active and hydrating ingredients that are smaller in molecular sizes to penetrate deeper into the dermis without clogging pores. Some of them also contain skin plumping ingredients like peptides, so that the skin will look hydrated, and plumped.
That most important thing though, is to look for a hydrating serum that contains not only hyaluronic acid as its main ingredient, and definitely not one that highlights ultra low-weight or nano-sized hyaluronic acid as they can cause inflammation (for detailed explanation see this article => here).
If you want to target other skin concerns at the same time, use the hydrating serum after other serums. To pull water to the skin surface, hydrating serums often have a larger molecular size, thus using one before other serums may hinder penetration.
Immersion Serum Concentrate <- Click to shop
The Pure Wonder Active Serum <- Click to shop
As mentioned above, both dehydrated skin and dry skin have a disrupted skin barrier. Worse yet, the levels of lipids that make up this barrier decline with age. Thus in order to help nourish it back to health, it is vital to replenish the skin with oils, especially for genetically dry skin that already lacks oil from the start.
By replenishing the skin with lipids, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and polyphenols that are abundant in oils, not only will the skin feel moisturized, the skin will also be able to fortify itself, retain optimal moisture, fight free radicals, stimulate collagen production, and maintain a healthier, stronger barrier to effectively improve skin issues such as dryness, eczema, irritations, oiliness and wrinkles, thereby slowing the aging process.
By building stronger barrier functions via oils, the skin will be able to lock in moisture naturally, and you may not even need a moisturiser. In fact, for those that are prone to clogged pores, an oil, which has a smaller molecular size than a moisturizer, may be even better than using a moisturiser.
Don’t worry, well-formulated oil serums are not greasy these days, plus all you need is 3-5 drops at a time. During summer, focus on using it in the evenings, but if you're extra dry, you may also want to use two drops in the mornings.
Oh, and remember to use it on damp skin!
Unseasonal Kind Lipid Replenishment Oil <- Click to shop
Serum Bioluminelle™ <- Click to shop
Contrary to popular belief, oils are emollients, not occlusive ingredients, which is why they should be used before a moisturizer. For some people, using an oil serum is already enough without the need of a moisturizer, as the oils’ unique essential fatty acid content do help prevent water loss and maintain water content in the skin.
For others who do enjoy moisturizers, here’s the thing——even if you have dry skin, it is still better to use a light moisturizer instead of a heavy one that contains a lot of occlusive ingredients such as petrolatum, lanolin, mineral oil, beeswax, and shea butter.
There are two main reasons.
Heavy moisturizers impede the natural cycle of skin turnover by keeping the unwanted, dead cells stuck to the skin surface, instead of letting them shed naturally. Not only will this make the skin look dull and textured, it will also prevent skincare ingredients from being absorbed. In other words, no matter how much water and oil you give the skin, your skin will still feel dehydrated and dry, as nothing is getting past this thick layer of dead skin cells! Worse yet, lines that aren’t even actually there will start appearing because of the uneven texture!
The skin has a naturally built-in function of hydrating itself. When heavy moisturizers are continuously applied to the skin, the cells in the epidermis would send a signal to the cells in the dermis telling them there is enough hydration so there is no need for more, instead of asking them to move hydration up to the skin surface. Gradually, the cells in the dermis would become lazy, go dormant, and ultimately stop regulating its own hydration level, resulting in drier and less elastic skin.
A more effective way to care for the skin is thus use a light emulsion / hydrator after the oil step to nourish the cells, seal all the nutrients in, and prevent trans-epidermal water loss, yet without impeding the skin’s natural hydrating function. Or, you may want to use a lightweight regenerative sleeping mask in place of a moisturiser that aims to provide the skin with nutrients and support its renewal process at night.
All Day Radiance Light Concentration Cream <- Click to shop
MARIE REYNOLDS LONDON
Skin Quencher <- Click to shop
Studies have revealed a lack of nutrients such as omega-3 and Vitamin ACDE, can make the skin dry, itch, scale, and increase the risk of skin problems such as eczema.
We know many of you are vegetarians, vegans, or going on constant diets, but as beauty comes from within, please make sure you are giving your body enough nutrients, otherwise all the best skincare products won’t help.
Studies have shown that ingesting high quality collagen supplement, which are metabolized to bioactive di- and tri-peptides in the gastrointestinal tract, and then released into the blood stream and accumulated in the skin to form new collagen, increase hyaluronic acid synthesis, and promote the production of other proteins that help structure the skin, including elastin and fibrillin, thereby plumping skin, preventing wrinkles, sagging, dryness, and increasing elasticity.
In one randomized, placebo-controlled 12-week clinical trial, it has been confirmed that objective dermatological measurements, such as cutometry and corneometry, have proven that oral collagen peptides, can reach deeper layers of the skin and sustainably improve skin physiology and appearance, including skin hydration, elasticity, roughness, and density after three months of intake. The study participants, in their subjective assessments, also concluded that their skin appearance had significantly improved without any side effects.
Another clinical research, which positively demonstrated collagen supplements’ impact on the skin cell’s ability to produce collagen fibers and hyaluronic acid, showed that the fragmentation of collagen in the deep layer of the dermis by significantly decreased by 18% after 4 weeks and as much as 31% after 12 weeks of intake. They also significantly increased the density of collagen in the dermis by +9% after 4 weeks of intake, and skin hydration increased by an astonishing 28%, resulting in a significant increase in skin elasticity and hydration, and reduction in wrinkle depth.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study with 64 participants that lasted 12 weeks, also showed that skin-hydration values of the group that ingested collagen supplement once daily were significantly higher compared with the placebo group. Visual assessment score, three parameters of skin wrinkling, as well as skin elasticity were also significantly improved.
holi(mane) Hair, Skin & Nails Daily Supplement <- Click to shop
As alcohol and coffee are diuretics, the most immediate effect is dehydration. The more and longer you drink, the worse the dehydration damage gets, and the more fine lines, dry lines and ultimately deep wrinkles you will have.
When you drink water, it travels through the esophagus to the stomach before entering the small intestine. It then makes its way into the bloodstream and gets filtered by the kidneys, so the cells and organs can get the hydration they need to perform optimally.
So yes, water does have an indirect effect on the skin, as it helps flush out toxins and waste from the body and assists in circulation and getting oxygen and nutrients to the skin cells; and yes, the skin will be impacted when you are severely dehydrated because your cells and organs cannot function properly without water. However, what water does not do, is automatically go to the skin and hydrate it.
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