Our skin is a complex structure and can sometimes be quite complicated. Not only that there are different skin types like normal, dry, oily or even combination skin. Confusion is also caused by designations such as low moisture or low fat in combination with a particular skin type.
We bring a little light into the darkness and take a look at the difference between dry and dehydrated skin in this article.
A common feature of both skin problems is a disturbed barrier function of the upper skin layer, therefore the skin condition deteriorates in cold or dry weather. What both skin problems have in common is that hydration helps.
What is dry skin?
Dry skin is genetically predisposed and can therefore only be influenced to a certain degree. To put it simply, dry skin produces too few lipids or oils. Therefore you should supply dry skin with these substances.
Our skin has a so-called lipid coat, i.e. a hydrolipid film consisting of sebum and oil. The lipid layer provides a strong skin barrier and keeps the skin elastic. An intact skin barrier in turn prevents uncontrolled lipid and water loss or the penetration of chemical substances into the skin.
- With dry skin, this barrier or the hydrolipid film is disturbed and a lipid deficiency occurs. The result is dry, rough skin, which usually stretches unpleasantly. Wrinkles and skin cracks can appear and in bad cases it can even lead to eczema or rashes.
- Dry and low in moisture: Once the barrier is disturbed, not only does a lipid deficiency occur, but also a disproportionate amount of water can evaporate from the skin.
What causes dry skin?
Although dry skin can also be congenital, we can also influence the development of dry skin to some extent: Reasons can be e.g. diets, stress, age, environmental influences such as a dry climate, sun, heat, winter temperatures and cold wind, dry (heating) air or air pollution. Our skin does not like long showers or baths at hot temperatures, aggressive washing substances or strong sunlight, but hormonal influences also have an effect: Pills, pregnancy or menopause, as well as taking medication, can lead to dry skin.
Do I have dry skin?
There are some signs that you have dry skin:
- Dry skin is usually small-pored, has little or no oily shine, is cracked and susceptible to rough spots, sometimes even appears almost "leathery".
- Moisturizing cream is usually "absorbed" and make-up is often deposited in the fine lines or wrinkles.
If you are still unsure if you have dry skin, use a blotting paper a few hours after cleansing and gently press it against your nostrils. If the skin does not leave any oily shine, you certainly have dry skin.
Dry skin - what to do?
Dry skin needs on the one hand rich and oily, on the other hand occlusive, i.e. including substances, because the lack of lipids and the associated loss of moisture should be balanced and moisture retained in the skin.
- Care for dry skin should contain a high proportion of fat or oil, e.g. water-in-oil emulsions are suitable. The protective lipid film supplies the horny layer with lipids and at the same time traps moisture.
- Aloe vera, urea or oils such as almond oil are used for extremely dry skin, making it soft, elastic and smooth.
- To clean dry skin you should use mild, non-foaming cleansers, cleansers with oils or cleansing oils.
- It is often sufficient to cleanse the skin only once a day with a cleanser, the second time with clear water.
- If pimples appear, it can be due to dead skin cells to which bacteria adhere. In this case a mild exfoliation can help to restore the skin balance.
What is dehydrated skin?
Low moisture - or dehydrated - skin is a skin condition that affects every skin type, but which can also be influenced. That's right: Whether dry, normal or oily skin - here too much water evaporates and a lack of moisture develops. Simplified summary: The skin is thirsty!
Normally, a balanced water content in the skin makes it flexible, soft and firm. All processes that normally take place within the skin (such as renewal or rejection of dead skin cells) function perfectly. The evaporation of water can also be regulated by the skin itself.
- Dehydrated skin, on the other hand, lacks the ability to reduce water evaporation - transepidermal water loss: Water molecules are thus excessively released from the upper layers of the epidermis. The skin lacks water-binding substances.
- The reason for this is also a weakened skin barrier.
How does dehydrated skin develop?
Our skin consists of water - in the upper part of the epidermis, the stratum corneum, to be precise, 12-16%. If the water content falls below 10%, the skin is poor in moisture.
Normally, the horny layer in the skin protects us from releasing too much water because it is able to bind water and regulate transepidermal water loss. However, if our skin barrier or the hydrolipid film is disturbed (e.g. because you clean the skin too often, often bathe too hot, expose yourself too much to the sun or use aggressive soaps etc.), too many water molecules can evaporate. Too intensive exfoliation can also lead to dehydrated skin.
Do I have dehydrated skin?
As you have already experienced, dehydrated skin can affect any skin type - but there are combinations that appear quite frequently:
- Oily skin is usually also well hydrated while dry skin is often also low in moisture.
- Of course, there is also oily skin that suffers from dehydration, then the skin produces more lipids to compensate for the lack of moisture and maintain its elasticity, which of course is not conducive.
- If you have dry and dehydrated skin, the skin will feel rather rigid and "stiff" instead of soft and bulging. A pinching of the skin leads to the formation of wrinkles, fine lines appear. In addition, the above-mentioned properties of dry skin (small pores, hardly any greasy shine, etc.) become apparent.
- If you have oily dehydrated skin, then you suffer on the one hand from the signs of oily skin (large pores, blackheads, prone to acne, oily shine, needs little cream, make-up does not hold well). On the other hand, among the characteristics of dehydrated skin: a feeling of pulling and wrinkles.
Moisture-deficient skin - what to do?
Low moisture skin needs not only substances that supply and bind moisture, but also substances that strengthen the lipid coat so that moisture is not excessively released. The focus of your care should be on water-binding fabrics. You can strengthen the skin barrier with vitamin C, niacinamide, aloe vera or panthenol. Hyaluronic acid binds moisture for a long time.
- If you suffer from dry and dehydrated skin, vegetable oils and substances that bind water (e.g. glycerine, sorbitol, hyaluronic acid, urea) and enclose the moisture and thus protect against evaporation can help.
- If you suffer from oily and dehydrated skin, you should use light textures that bind moisture and use occlusive substances such as shea butter, bee wax, vaseline and lanolin as the last care step.
More information (in German):
Picture source: Filipe B. Varela/shutterstock.com