How to improve your skin’s ability to hydrate itself (and improve fine lines)
Well hydrated cells are plump. They stretch the overlying skin, helping it to stay firm, which reduces the appearance of fine lines. Although moisturizing and hydrating are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. Knowing how hydrated your cells are (and how healthy your skin barrier is), will go far to making sure you are doing the best to keeping your skin at its best.
The difference between skin dryness and skin dehydration
Put simply, the fundamental difference between skin dryness and skin dehydration is that dryness is an inherent skin type, whereas, dehydration refers to a skin condition
People with dry skin types produce less sebum, and therefore lack the oils/lipids, needed to retain moisture and a healthy skin barrier. Dry skin can be itchy, flaky and uncomfortable – it is typically worse around the nose, mouth and eyebrows- and will need to be managed over the long term.
Normal skin types can become dehydrated (low water content in the skin) as a result of factors like weather, environment, diet and caffeine consumption. It is more a “state your skin is in”…this can be fixed. Dehydrated skin feels tight, looks dull and is likely to exaggerate fine lines, wrinkles and dark circles under the eyes.
“During winter, many of our patients with normal skin types experience dry, itchy, cracked and/or irritated skin. Cold air, hot showers, in door heating and low humidity contribute to skin dehydration and the exacerbation of fine lines. It’s important to adjust your approach to skin care to soothe your skin during this time. Seeing your skin expert will help you identify if your skin cells are “thirsty” and how to best target your treatment”.
Difference between moisturizing and hydrating
While both moisturizers and hydrators help make sure the skin is getting “water”, they go about achieving these results differently.
• Moisturizers work to trap and seal moisture to build the skin’s protective barrier, prevent water loss
• Hydrators infuse cells with water and improve your skin’s ability to absorb moisture and nutrients.
Diagnosis of dry vs dehydrated skin
If you’re prone to having dry, flaky skin, it’s a sign that it’s not producing enough oil/lipid cells to form a healthy protective barrier, to lock in moisture. That’s where moisturizers come in.
If your complexion is dull and your fine lines /wrinkles feel more noticeable, your skin may be thirsty and dehydrated.
A good way to test this is to pinch your cheek. When you see wrinkling with gentle pressure, your skin cells need more water.
For a more scientific approach, the visia skin analysis uses digital imaging technology to assess how healthy your skin barrier is (an important aspect in holding moisture in your cells) and the extent of hydration of your cells
For dry skin types… think moisturizers
The skin has a natural lipid barrier that protects itself from damage and water loss. If you’re prone to having dry, flaky skin, it’s a tell-tale sign that it’s not producing enough lipid cells to form a protective barrier, making it unable to lock in moisture. And that’s where moisturizers come in. Important points to consider
• There are many different types of effective moisturizers, but it’s important that they contain active ingredients that penetrate the skin
• Every person’s skin profile is unique and there is a wide variation from lotions to creams that will be recommended based on need and preference
For dehydrated skin…think hydrators
Let’s not forget, drinking water is still the most essential step to hydrate your skin and improve fine lines. But if you have dehydrated skin, here are 5 steps you can take to improve your skin’s ability to hydrate itself over time
Step 1: Exfoliate
This is the most important step. The exfoliation process allows excess dead skin to be effectively removed and stimulates new cell turnover. These new cells function better. Exfoliating will also improve the skins absorption rate so that products actually penetrate and don’t sit on the surface of the skin.
Step 2: Add a serum
These luxurious add-ons to your homecare regime have active ingredients to intensely hydrate your skin
When it comes to skin hydration, we like
• Hyaluronic serums which help draw and retain moisture (your skin naturally produces its own hyaluronic but as time progresses this decreases)
• Collagen serums which plump and firm the skin
Step 3: Use a night cream
Night time is when your skin takes the time to regenerate and recover from the day’s oxidative stress. The best night creams contain collagen and depending on your skin type, you will have a preference to the feeling of the cream.
Step 4: A light peel
Lunch time, superficial peels exfoliate the skin, thicken the superficial layers (epidermis) and improve overall texture. We all love a good pamper every now and then and so does our skin.
Step 5: Get medical…and do MORE for your skin
Medical grade microneedling and deeper peels (like TCA) work deeper in the skin (otherwise known as the dermis). These treatments are incredible for helping to improve collagen and hyaluronic production.
Skin booster treatments involve the injection of tiny aliquots of dermal filler (cross linked hyaluronic acid) diffusely into your dermal layer. Over time, this stable form of HA draws fluid allowing deeper hydration, increased skin elasticity, reducing lines and decreasing skin roughness.
Hydrating ingredients are generally appropriate for all skin types. They are water-soluble, won’t clog pores and should be devoid of alcohols so they don’t actively dry out or irritate the skin surface
At skin therapy our passion is to help people look their best at every age. We believe in an ethical approach and value the trust our patients place in us. For more information, follow us on social media or get in touch and do MORE for your skin!
Written by Dr Bridget Bowman
As featured in August 2020 skin therapy – specialist aesthetic clinic newsletter