Face your Skin Logo Skin Book

Interesting facts about our skin and its care.

Low moisture or dry - what's the difference?

oil-drop-die-ins-water-sink-mixture

Our skin is a complex structure and can sometimes be quite complicated. In addition to different skin types such as normal, dry, oily or combination skin, there are also dehydrated or oily skin conditions. In this article, we'll take a look at the difference between dry and dehydrated skin. One thing in advance - whether dry or dehydrated skin: the barrier function of the upper skin layer is disturbed and one thing in particular is missing - moisture!  

What is dry skin?

Dry skin is genetically predisposed and can therefore only be influenced to a certain extent. To put it simply, dry skin does not produce enough lipids or oils, which is why you should supply these substances. Our skin has a so-called lipid mantle, i.e. a hydrolipid film consisting of sebum and oil. The lipid mantle provides a strong skin barrier and ensures that the skin remains elastic. An intact skin barrier in turn prevents the penetration of chemical substances or bacteria into the skin - but above all it ensures a balanced lipid and water balance.

The problem with dry skin is that the skin barrier or the hydrolipid film is disturbed. There is a lipid deficiency resulting in dry and rough skin, which is usually uncomfortably tight. Wrinkles and skin cracks may appear and in severe cases even eczema or rashes may develop. If the skin is not adequately cared for, a disproportionate amount of water can evaporate from the skin. Your skin becomes dehydrated.

What causes dry skin?

While dry skin is usually congenital, to some extent our behavior also exacerbates the dry skin condition. Diets, stress, age, environmental influences such as a dry climate, sun, heat, winter temperatures and cold wind, dry (heating) air or air pollution often have negative effects - also on dry skin. Long showers or baths at hot temperatures, aggressive washing substances or strong sunlight do not like our skin at all, but hormonal influences also have an effect: The pill, pregnancy or menopause - as well as taking medication - can lead to dry skin or aggravate this condition.

Do I have dry skin?

There are a few signs that indicate you have dry skin: Dry skin is usually fine-pored, has little or no oil sheen, is cracked and prone to rough patches, and sometimes even appears almost "leathery." Moisturizer is often literally "absorbed" and makeup often settles in the fine lines or wrinkles.

Still unsure if you have dry skin? A few hours after cleansing, use a blotting paper and press it lightly against your nostril. If the skin now leaves no oily shine, you certainly have dry skin.  

Dry skin - what to do?

Dry skin on the one hand needs rich, oily and occlusive (i.e. enclosing) substances, on the other hand also moisturizing and moisturizing active agents. The objective should be to compensate the lipid deficiency and the associated moisture loss. The supplied moisture should remain in the skin.

  • It is important to use a skin care product with a high lipid or oil content as e.g. water-in-oil emulsions. The protective lipid film supplies the horny layer with lipids and simultaneously locks in moisture.
  • Moisturizers like aloe vera, hyaluron, glycerin, urea or oils like e.g. almond oil are used for very dry skin and make it soft, elastic and smooth. Ceramides are also an important component of the lipid barrier and protect against water loss.
  • For the cleansing of dry skin, you should use mild, non-foaming cleansers, cleansers with oils or cleansing oils. Often it is sufficient to clean the skin only once a day with a cleanser (best in the evening), the second time with clear water.
  • If pimples appear, then it may be due to dead skin cells to which bacteria are attached. In this case, a mild exfoliation can help to restore the skin balance.

What is dehydrated skin?

Dehydrated skin is a skin condition that can affect any skin type - whether you have oily skin, combination skin or dry skin. The good news is that you can remedy the lack of moisture.

Whether you have dry, normal or oily skin, too much water simply evaporates from your skin and a lack of moisture results. To sum it up simply: The skin is thirsty!

The normal state of a skin with a balanced water content makes it flexible, soft and plump. All processes that normally take place within the skin, such as exfoliation, i.e. the shedding of dead skin cells, function properly. Even the evaporation of water can be regulated by the skin itself. Dehydrated skin however lacks the possibility to reduce the water evaporation (keyword: transepidermal water loss) because its skin barrier is weakened. Hence, water molecules are excessively released from the upper layers of the epidermis and the skin lacks water-binding substances.

How does dehydrated skin develop?

Our skin consists of water - in the upper part of the epidermis, more precisely the stratum corneum, as much as 12-16%. If the water content drops below 10%, the skin is dehydrated. Normally, the horny layer in the skin protects us from releasing too much water as it is able to bind water and regulate the transepidermal water loss. However, if our skin barrier or hydrolipidic film is disturbed (e.g. because we cleanse the skin too often, often bathe too hot, expose ourselves too much to the sun or use aggressive soaps etc. or apply too many chemical/mechanical peelings), too many water molecules can evaporate.

Do I have dehydrated skin?

Dehydrated skin, as you've already experienced, can affect any skin type - but there are skin types that suffer from it more often, such as oily skin or, of course, dry skin.

Oily skin. Most of the time it is well hydrated, but there is also oily skin that suffers from dehydration. Oily dehydrated skin produces too many lipids to compensate for the lack of moisture (which, of course, does not work) and maintain its elasticity. If you have oily dehydrated skin, then on the one hand you suffer from the signs of oily skin (large pores, blackheads, prone to acne, oily shine, needs little cream, makeup does not hold well). On the other hand, you suffer from the characteristics of dehydrated skin: it is not plump and cushioned and the skin is tight or feels "wrinkled" or rough under the oily layer.

Dry skin. It feels more rigid and "stiff" instead of soft and plump. Pinching the skin leads to wrinkles, fine lines appear.

Moisture-deficient skin - what to do?

Moisture-deficient skin not only needs active ingredients that moisturize and bind, but also substances that strengthen the lipid mantle so that moisture is not excessively released. The focus of your care should be on water-binding substances.

  • Good active ingredients that moisturize and bind are: Glycerin, Aloe vera, Hyaluron, Lactic acid, Sodium PCA, Sorbitol, Urea.
  • Good active agents that strengthen the skin barrier are especially vegetable oils and ceramides.
  • Other useful active ingredients are: Antioxidants, algae extracts, carotenoids, cactus extract, niacinamide, panthenol.
  • It is best to wait with exfoliating fruit acids until the skin condition has improved. After that, salicylic acid, mild AHAs like lactic or mandelic acid or PHA are allowed.
  • Dry, dehydrated skin should additionally avoid retinol and vitamin C - they have too high an irritation potential.

Our product recommendations for skin lacking moisture:

Sources & Reading Fodder:

Image source: Filipe B. Varela/shutterstock.com