As a skincare expert, I often wonder about my client’s perception of what constitutes properly hydrated and nourished skin. With every skin consultation and facial that I perform, I take a close look at my client’s skin. 98 per cent of the time, I see some level of dehydration. Unlike with other skin concerns such as blemishes or dilated capillaries, people often respond to this observation defensively. I’m not sure why that is – perhaps they feel they drink enough water, or they know they don’t drink enough water and feel bad? (What is certain, is that’s it’s never easy to have someone looking that closely at your skin and pointing things out to you. ) What most people don’t realize is that dehydrated skin is almost unequivocally a universal skin condition for anyone in their twenties and up and it’s certainly not reflective of any overt negligence on their part.

A common myth is that drinking enough fluids provides sufficient hydration for the skin. While there is no doubt that we need to drink water for many reasons, the fact is our skin only marginally reaps the benefits of this healthy habit. Usually, the water we take in is used for other functions.

In order for the skin to be properly hydrated, it requires the ability to retain water which is linked to the skin’s barrier function and the production of hyaluronic acid – two things that become compromised with age and lifestyle factors.

What are the symptoms of dehydrated skin?

  • fine lines that cover large segments of the skin
  • flakiness
  • tightness
  • enlarged pores
  • rough skin texture
  • redness

What happens when the skin isn’t hydrated enough?

A study published in the journal Skin Research and Technology which tested the relationship between skin aging and hydration levels found that dry and dehydrated skin had a higher incidence of wrinkles. Additionally, these wrinkles tended to be deeper. The conclusion? Wrinkles were fewer and shallower in hydrated skin. In addition to premature aging, dehydrated skin is linked to sensitivity. (Cue reaching for your hydrating mist).

What are some of the triggers for skin dehydration?

  • sun exposure
  • pollution
  • smoking
  • indoor heating and air conditioning
  • diuretics such as caffeinated beverages (coffee, black tea)
  • chlorinated pools
  • bathing or washing with hot water
  • over-cleansing the skin
  • using products that compromise the skin’s barrier (soap, surfactants to name a few)

In addition to these lifestyle and environmental causes for dehydrated skin, oil phobia is another major cause that I come across. It is common for people to fear breaking out so much that they don’t provide their skin with enough moisture and hydration. Fortunately, you don’t have to become a face oil convert (unless you want to, we certainly like em’) in order to have properly hydrated skin. Products like Dermalogica’s skin hydrating booster or skin hydrating masque are oil-free essentials for every skin type.

Other ways to stay hydrated include exfoliating the skin regularly. When the skin is dehydrated, its ability to naturally exfoliate itself is compromised. This is because water is required to for the enzyme-driven cell turnover process. By removing the build-up of dead skin cells, the healthy hydrated cells below are brought up to the surface and products can penetrate more effectively. Dry body brushing, at-home exfoliants and professional facials are just a few ways to give your skin a leg up on dehydration.

Pay attention to some of the lifestyle factors listed above and control your exposure however you can. Beyond this, drink water, eat plenty of vegetables and fruits (watermelon is a great option over the summer) and enhance your skin’s hydration with hydrating mists, serums and masques.

Not sure where to start? Book in for a complimentary consultation with us and we’ll help your formulate a plan.