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Knowing the difference between dry and dehydrated skin

As a Beauty Therapist, I have trained in over 20 different product ranges including some of the most expensive products possible. Many clients tell me that their skin is dry. It was always my job to ask further questions in order to find out what the skin concern actually is, and 99% of the time it is in fact dehydration. The majority of us have dehydrated skin, especially in the winter months with central heating being the main culprit, but also, we don’t always use the right products for the true skin concern. So I would like to explain a few ways of differentiating between dry and dehydrated skin, in the hope that it can help you when choosing your products in the future.

Knowing what dry skin looks and feels like Dry skin is generally a skin condition. It consists of flakiness, redness and can be visibly dry. Dry skin can be really sensitive and sometimes uncomfortable. If you suffer with dry skin, then you could be prone to cracking and splitting as well, which can be really painful at times. Dry skin can feel and look rough. It can be itchy, flaky, scaly, and can sometimes peel. The skin can also have a grey (also known as ‘ashy’) look.

What causes dry skin?

Dry skin isn't usually serious. In most cases it's caused by factors like hot or cold weather, low moisture in the air, and soaking in hot water.

Some chemicals, foaming agents and soaps can really dry the skin out too. Products containing alcohol have a really detrimental effect on all skin types, but especially dry.

How to treat dry skin?

Dry skin tends to be lacking in oil and needs nourishment. Nourishment generally comes from a good oil-based moisturiser or natural oil. Products that contain too many chemicals or alcohol will have an adverse effect. Be careful when bathing, avoid cheaper brands of soap or washes due to the detergents used in these to make them foam, and try not to have your water too hot. Try to avoid soap as this is proven to dry the skin more. Use cleansing creams, gentle skin cleansers and shower gels with added moisturisers. If you are washing up, make sure you don your rubber gloves to protect those beautiful hands.

So, what about Dehydrated skin?

Dehydrated skin is so common, in fact the majority of people suffer with it.

The skin can be dull, or even lack radiance too. Dehydration can be caused by various medications or a change in diet or hormones, as well as heating or air cooling. Of course, not drinking enough water is a really common factor too.

If your skin feels tight after washing, or has visible pores, then this is a clear indication of dehydrated skin. Fine lines are more visible, and there is more chance of an oily T-zone if your skin is dehydrated too.


Well, because your skin doesn’t produce water as such, it produces excess oil to compensate. This normally comes out in your T-zone area. All skin types can be dehydrated, and the more dehydrated it is, the more oil it produces. This can then lead to breakouts too. So, if you rectify the dehydration, you can in fact reduce the ‘combination’ type of skin too.


You can test if you have dehydrated skin by pushing up on your cheek. If you see fine lines and or open pores around the top of your cheek and your eyes, then this is a clear indicator that your skin is dehydrated.

How to treat dehydrated skin?

Luckily dehydrated skin is a condition and can be treated really easily.

The obvious solution would be to drink more water, and yes, this will help. However, a lot of the products that you put on your skin could be making the skin condition you have even worse.

Avoid any alcohol-based toners, cleansers and skin treatments, Alcohol strips all of the water and oil you have, and although it leaves your skin feeling super clean, your skin is a smart organ, so it will just produce even more oil. This will make the combination skin type even worse.

Hydrating serums and lotions are by far the best treatment for dehydrated skin. Face masks are a great way of boosting either nourishment or hydration, and a good hydrating lotion is all you need for your body. If you have a dryer skin, combined with dehydration then layer up oil and lotion. Always finish with the lotion though as it gives a sandwich treatment affect for your skin, locking in the nourishment and finishing off with the hydration. This is the perfect combo and great for winter months or summer holidays.

When it comes to skincare, invest in good quality products and have less of them. Less is more with skincare, and although every brand out there wants you to use a million products a day, realistically you need a good cleansing routine (Calm is a great alcohol-free tonic), a treatment to rectify whatever concern you have, and use a SPF day cream to protect your skin all year round.

Then in the evening, treat your skin to some serious love with a relevant treatment and/or night cream.

When it comes to your body, keep it simple. We don’t need another huge range of products. We need an oil (Care) that can be used as a hair treatment, body conditioner, shaving medium and cuticle care. Then a lovely hydrating lotion (Soothe) to give your skin the hydration it needs. You will see it soak in beautifully and you can use it on your hands and feet too.

Most importantly, put down the soaps, as they are super drying and stripping of the skin’s natural water and oil. Replace them with gentle cleansers (Calm), and if you like using a face wash, check that it has natural foaming agents rather than the chemical ones. The main one to avoid is sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS ) - which is also used to degrease car engines!

There are a few natural alternatives such as the ones listed below, so make sure you check the ingredients of the products you are using, you will be shocked at how many chemicals are found in them:

Quillaja Saponaria (Soap Bark) - Natural foaming agent derived from the Soap Bark tree,

Decyl Glucoside - A gentle and mild natural surfactant which doesn’t contain any impurities. It is obtained from 100% renewable vegetable origin and is produced by the reaction of glucose from corn starch with the fatty alcohol decanol, which is derived from coconut.

Cocamidopropyl Betaine (CocoBetaine) - Derived from Coconut oil, it gives a smooth silky feel to products and a good foam.

Coco Glucoside - Natural ultra-mild and gentle surfactant derived from coconut and fruit sugars. It can be used as a foaming agent, conditioner or emulsifier, is gentle on the skin and gives a smooth silky feel to products, allowing them to glide over the skin.

Sodium Cocoamphoacetate - A surfactant, foam booster and conditioning agent used in skin care products. This is an organic compound derived from coconut oil which is very gentle on the skin, and helps products glide on smoothly.

I hope that helps you make your decisions with your skincare, and just image that your skin is a plum. Take all of that moisture and hydration out and it becomes a prune.

One of the best ways to maintain a healthy, young complexion is to keep it hydrated. So, get that face mask and pint of water ready, and give your skin the hydration, nourishment and love that it deserves. After-all, you have it for your whole life!

Amy x


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