The Hydration Guide
Whatever your skin type, hydration is important. We consistently lose water through trans-epidermal loss which is a natural process in which moisture evaporates from the skin's surface.
As humans, water makes up around 60% of our bodies composition so it only makes sense that maintaining healthy hydration levels is a key component to hydrated skin. But, our skin is actually one of the last places to receive the all important moisture from your "8 glasses a day".
For optimal skin hydration, we need to achieve a balance of water and oil throughout the layers of skin.
The end goal is to harmonize; to retain moisture in dehydrated skin and to boost moisture in dry skin. The type of moisture needed - water or oil- is dependant on your daily environment and skin type.
Dry vs Dehydrated Skin
In the winter months, it's not uncommon for us to experience "dry" or "dehydrated" skin, it's important to know that these two skin types require different courses of action.
Dry skin denotes a lack of oil and may present itself as flaky, rough, patchy perhaps feeling overly tight after cleansing whereas dehydrated skin lacks water, or moisture and tends to appear dull, uneven in tone with more prominent fine lines.
Hydration and Oily Skin
It's common to assume that oily skin doesn't need hydration which couldn't be less true. An over-production of oil is often the result of excess sebum production and this can be attributed to genetics, hormones, environment or climate. Dehydration is a direct result of insufficient moisture or water meaning that it can affect Dry, Combination or Oily skin.
The same simple principle rings true whatever your skin type, harmony is the key.
Restoring harmony in oily skin generally involves a daily routine that gently removes excess oil and delivers light-weight hydration with the help of astringents (water based, often toners containing witch hazel or alcohol to get rid of excess debris and oil) and humectants (more on this below).
3 Pillars of Hydration
Humectants - Molecules that are able to attract, bind and draw water to skin's surface, supporting our skin barrier's function and helping with overall moisture retention.
The most common Humectant is Hyaluronic Acid which is able to hold 1,000 times it's weight in water. Humectants are found in water-based serums. You may be using humectants without realizing.
Emollients - Lipid-based formulas that feed the outermost layers of skin and soothe, soften and repair the skin's barrier to prevent water loss.
Emollient-rich creams are supportive when it comes to dryness. Look for barrier-repairing moisturizers.
Occlusives - In the same way that a puffer-jacket traps warmth, Occlusive products trap moisture before it escapes into the environment.
Oils and balms are Occlusive as they seal in moisture.
Do I need to Hydrate in 3 steps?
Combining these 3 pillars may be helpful on the quest for optimal hydration but first, it's vital to correctly identify the skin issues your experiencing and select a hydrator that responds to those needs as well as the daily environment you're in. To use products that don't support the skin you're in, may cause us to believe the product isn't effective, regardless of how good it is.
For example, If you have dry skin and are solely using an oil to hydrate, you may find the dryness persists. This is because as rich as oil may be, it can only reach the outermost layers of skin, it's molecular weight means that it cannot penetrate further and the deeper layers of skin may be lacking in moisture.
The same can be said if you're using an emollient moisturizer but are experiencing dehydration. Whilst the top layers of skin are protected, the deeper layers are unable to contribute any moisture and the dehydration remains.
A Korean beauty trend popularized by Tik Tok that is actually holding merit from Dermatologists and Aestheticians. Slugging is just a catchy name for liberally applying an occlusive layer as the final step in your skincare routine, creating a moisture barrier that makes it virtually impossible for water loss in the skin thus leaving behind perfectly plump, hydrated skin.
In those with oily, blemish-prone skin or those who experience milia, the "slugging" method may not necessarily be a match made in heaven but for those of us with severely dry skin, on top of adequate hydrators, it could just be the boost of moisture you needed.
The product typically used for this is Vaseline, a occlusive jelly that's been on the market forever but other balms and ointments like Aquaphor or our own personal favourite Egyptian Magic Cream would work in the same way. Before you rush to add this to your nightly regime, it may be good to know that we actually want some water loss (shocking, I know) to encourage our skin to continue it's natural process' and "slugging" too often may hinder this.
Be mindful of using retinol, vitamin c and other active ingredients underneath too as these can be made much more potent when sealed-in to skin for a long period of time.
Is "slugging" much more effective than a good hydration system and face oil? We couldn't say but if you're struggling to get dry skin under control this winter, it might be worth a shot.
Here are some additional tips for boosting hydration, to work in tandem with your skincare routine.
1. Humidifier - Our environment can dry our skin out even further so consider adding a humidifier to your home to add back that moisture.
2. Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol + Salty Foods - I know, boring advice but when dehydrated, Coffee is often the first thing I cut out (even if just temporarily). If cutting coffee out seems extreme for you, try limiting how much you have and drink a large glass of water for every coffee you consume!
3. Vitamin C - Both in our diets and topically, make sure you're getting your daily dose. Vitamin C is great for Collagen production and Skin barrier healing.
4. Showers - Hot showers are notorious for causing dry skin so if you can, opt for lukewarm showers.
5. Balance Stress - Easier said than done, we know. Stress can impact the skin's repair process so we want to keep it to a minimum. Try breathing exercises, meditation (if time allows) or adaptogens to calm the nervous system.
6. Sleep - Sleep always finds a way to pop up in anything skin-related, doesn't it? But for good reason. Healthy sleep patterns are key for so many of our body functions but especially skin. Your skin repairs itself at night so give it a good chance and try to get 7-9 hours a night.
It's a lot to take in, we get it. Book a skincare consultation with us if you have lingering questions or want personalized advice.