Welcome back everyone (and welcome, new readers)!
Dehydrated skin is a tough skin issue to deal with, and I am saying this from (deeply) personal experience. It takes a lot of work and dedication to repair your skin and get it balanced again, but it is possible and can be done in 3 months or less (usually 6-8 weeks).
To start, let’s make sure everyone is on the same page about what dehydrated skin is.
Dehydrated skin is not a sign that you need to drink more water! Dehydrated skin is skin whose natural moisture barrier (the thing that keeps moisture in and pollutants out for the sake of simplicity) has been damaged. The damage is pretty much always brought about by some outside factor-think of the overuse of harsh actives or acne spot treatments. Water begins escaping from your skin with nothing to keep it sealed in and at a very rapid rate. Your skin starts to dry out. To compensate, skin can start over-producing sebum which can trigger not-so-great things like acne and larger looking pores in tandem with the joys of dry skin (flakes, redness, itchiness) and possibly sudden sensitivity to things on top of it all. The whole face being both oily and dry at the same time is the biggest tell-tale sign (combination skin is just patches of one or the other).
Dehydrated skin and dry skin should not be confused.
Ways you can potentially damage your skin’s moisture barrier:
-over exfoliating and/or over cleansing
-using high pH products (7.0+) like cleansers >.> *whispers* the CosRx low pH good morning gel…
-not wearing sunscreen and getting a burn
-harsh weather conditions like biting winter wind (windburn)
-actives (and other harsh substances like Windex and benzoyl peroxide)
Common Symptoms of Dehydrated Skin:
-sudden, extreme dryness (and all the symptoms that go hand-in-hand with it like sudden, pronounced fine lines/wrinkles, flakes, crepe-paper texture to skin: your skin looks like its got super cakey foundation on, but you aren’t wearing any…plus it feels about as sexy as a first-aid wrap bandage)
-things like skincare products just will. not. for the life of them. freaking. absorb and makeup application…well forget about that. See above bandage note.
-sudden, strange, sensitivity (everything just starts stinging and burning, all the time)
-super fun redness and acne (your best friends have come out to play with you!)
How to Fix It:
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Its all you’re going to hear me say. Basically, its similar (but not the same) as dry skin. Layers of humectants will attract moisture to the skin’s surface. An emollient layer on the top of that will help smooth the skin’s appearance by filling in the gaps between the skin cells. Occlusives on top of these layers will seal their benefits in and keep the irritating crap out (kinda like a live-in sheet mask). Fatty acids (what comprises a good chunk of the barrier) are the main ingredients to look for.
You are going to need to STOP any use of harsh chemicals like acids, retinoids, or even spot treatments. Exfoliation (chemical or physical) is banned until skin condition begins to improve. Switch to a super gentle low pH cleanser (it is mandatory in this case if you wish to improve your skin) and don’t expose your skin to the point it gets further damaged by the weather (wear sunscreen and stay in the shade or bundle up).
Products that list words having to do with skin nutrition, healing, or repair are good places to start. Look for formulas that proclaim “rich” on their title (like “rich cocoa butter”).
Natural ingredients tend to be the best ingredients to use while your skin heals itself. Obvious candidates include things like honey, yogurt-related things, and aloe vera. Anything that has to do with an animal oil or milk (ie horse oil or donkey/goat milk) will be helpful (but that sort of issue is up to you-I have never used these kinds of products so I can’t speak for them) or as I have used with great success, any plant oil or butter (think hair care or body lotion: shea butter, cocoa butter, argan oil, olive oil).
My personal journey with severely dehydrated skin involved a lot of snail 96 power essence by CosRX. My skin was in really bad shape with dehydration-spurred acne and redness. When I stopped trying to dry out the acne with harsh chemicals, and instead tried to soothe the redness, the acne started to retreat and healing began.
The products that helped me the most with my journey back to a healthy moisture barrier (w/ non-affiliate links):
–CosRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence (helped reduce redness and acne, smoothed my skin out (no more flakes, less bumps), helped keep it hydrated, and really helped with overall sensitivity)
–Goodal Phytorain Murumuru Seed Hydra Serum (the moisture on this was superb…I can’t wait to buy it again this fall…I’ve missed you my pretty little winter staple *cries*)
–CosRX Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Spa Mask (I actually used it as a regular moisturizer twice a day. Again, peeing my pants in excitement to buy it again this winter)
–Enprani’s Dear by Bounce Cheese Cream (this was my sleeping pack/nighttime moisturizer (leaves a bit of a film) that I put on top of the spa mask. The texture is so much fun to play with and you will wake up, feel your face, and be like…is this really my skin?! holy sh**!!!)
And, having tried more products since then, these would probably be really effective as well:
-PONY Effect Luminous Boosting Mask Pack (really amazing in terms of moisture and turning the redness factor down a few notches)
–Etude House Moistfull Collagen Cream (I actually would recommend the whole line for glowy and bouncy skin, but this cream is pretty extraordinary just by itself as well)
Its unfortunate, but generally you will need to create a routine from scratch while addressing dehydrated skin. Whatever was in your previous routine obviously wasn’t working too well either due to the product application and/or the products themselves. Once your skin is healed, these products can slowly be reintroduced (so you don’t have to chuck ’em), but carefully and with lots of moisture.
With a little time, patience, and a whole lot of sheet masks, your skin will repair itself and its moisture barrier will heal. I sincerely hope this post was helpful. Feel free to contact me via this blog’s contact page, the comments below, or on any of my social media platforms with any questions/concerns you may have…or just to be friends lol
Thanks for reading! 🙂