3 Ways To Hydrate Your Skin (Updated April 2, 2022)

One of the most common skin conditions that I see in and out of the treatment room is dehydrated skin. Any skin type can become dehydrated. Oily skin that is dehydrated will often feel simultaneously oily and tight. Dry skin is prone to dehydration and will have a flaky or rough texture. When left untreated, it can lead to the following issues: blackheads, breakouts, sensitized skin, and sometimes milia.

Here are a few steps you can take to treat and prevent dehydration:

  1. Change your cleanser. If your skin feels tight or “squeaky” after cleansing, it’s likely your cleanser is actively dehydrating your skin, and you may need to switch to a new one. Avoid cleansers that foam or have a lot of lather. Foaming cleansers are formulated with detergents and sulfates to make them foam. Not all detergents and sulfates are created equal and repeated usage of harsh ones strip and damage your skin. (What is “harsh,” and how one’s skin is affected by it, can vary by individual.) They also usually have a pH that’s too high, which disrupts the skin’s barrier. Look for cleansers with a low pH of 4.5 – 5.5. Non-foaming gel and cream cleansers are typically formulated with a more appropriate pH.
  2. Use products containing humectants. Hyaluronic acid (sometimes listed as sodium hyaluronate) is the most discussed humectant, but other options are out there: Aloe, stone crop, algae, glycerin, sodium PCA, urea, and seaweed are all viable. These draw water molecules into your skin. Humectants are important to have in any routine for all skin types. Your skin will become less vulnerable as a result of using them.
  3. Exfoliate sparingly. Misuse and overuse of exfoliants can cause a lot of issues. Exfoliating 3 times per week is plenty for most skin types; less if you have sensitive skin. Use exfoliants that double as humectants, namely lactic or azelaic acid. The most drying, dehydrating, and potentially sensitizing acids are salicylic and glycolic. Willow bark is a plant-based salicylic that can be equally drying and sensitizing. If your skin feels uncomfortable in any way, perhaps consider skipping exfoliation that day.

Finding the correct products and methods that work for your skin requires experimentation and planning. Book an appointment with your local esthetician for guidance.


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