“So, you have dry skin… Or do you? Before we plunge into the rough, flaky depths of dry skin culture, we first need to properly diagnose the source of your dryness. You’re probably wondering how dry skin can possibly be misdiagnosed. Dry skin is dry skin, right? Turns out, dry skin can often be confused for dehydrated skin. It would be fine if this was purely semantics, but if you want to find the right skincare routine for your dry skin, you need to first diagnose it correctly.


Dry skin is usually a lifetime diagnosis, not a passing phase. Dehydrated skin is something that often passes. Dry skin lacks sebum, or oil, and occurs daily due to this imbalance, and is a result of your body’s natural chemistry. Dehydrated skin lacks water. If your skin lacks water, you most likely are losing water through TEWL (transepidermal water loss), which could be a result of an impaired skin barrier. This is often aggravated by stress, weather, and over-use of harsh cleansers, exfoliants and acids that can break down your skin barrier.
A good test to diagnose your skin type is to wash your face with a foaming cleanser, pat it dry, and leave it alone for a full hour. Do not apply any serums, lotions, toners or treatments to your face. If after an hour your skin feels tight and dry, and there is no oil on your face, you have dry skin. If, however, your skin is oily, yet still feels tight and dry, this means you have dehydrated skin.

Dry Skin: Best Skincare Routine

If you have dry skin, you don’t have as much natural oil in your skin as others, and you need to supplement by using a moisturizer high in oils to restore oil to your skin. One of the best oils for dry skin is Squalane because it has a similar chemical structure to that of sebum. The best moisturizer for dry skin should contain Squalane, and the texture should feel on the heavier, oilier side.

Dehydrated Skin: Best Skincare Routine

If you have purely dehydrated skin, your skin may actually be quite oily. It’s also possible for your skin to be BOTH dry and dehydrated, which we will cover later. For dehydrated skin, it’s important to focus on building up your skin barrier. Look for Hyaluronic Acid to attract water to your skin, and Ceramides to help “seal” it in. Ceramides act like the glue between your skin cells and help keep moisture from evaporating, which makes it the perfect ingredient for dehydrated skin.

Whether your skin is dry or dehydrated, flaky patches can leave you feeling rough around the edges. Both conditions are aggravated by severe weather (cold or hot), as well as low relative humidity, which depletes skin of its natural moisture balance. Even the most time-intensive skincare routines can still leave us feeling tight and dry. Dry skin is commonly referred to as sensitive skin. According to a study by Proctor & Gamble, more than half the United States population falls into this category. 


Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic Acid is a humectant, meaning it draws water, and is naturally produced within the human body. Some of the best moisturizes for dry skin rely on Hyaluronic Acid as a chief ingredient to draw moisture back to the surface level of the skin. While it’s most ideal for dehydrated skin, it is also helpful for plumping up dry skin.


Ceramides are comprised of lipids (fat molecules) which form a protective barrier on the surface of the skin. This helps dry skin to retain water, making it best for dehydrated skin.

Shea Butter

Shea Butter is derived from the nut of an African Shea Tree. This natural remedy is used to soothe and smooth dry skin though the natural fats of the nut. This forms a protective barrier and has been used for hundreds of years as a natural remedy to relieve the discomfort of dry skin. It is better for dry skin than it is for dehydrated skin.

Mandelic Acid

Mandelic Acid is derived from bitter almonds and is an alpha hydroxy acid. Mandelic Acid is a great ingredient in a skincare routine for dry skin since it has the ability to gently exfoliate without irritation. https://www.verywellhealth.com/mandelic-acid-for-skincare-4584832


Beta-Glucans are sugars found in mushrooms, oats, yeasts, and various plants. In a skincare routine, products with Beta-Glucans can help to soothe dry irritated skin with their anti-inflammatory properties. This is a great choice whether you have dry or dehydrated skin.


While the key ingredients above are invaluable when looking at the best moisturizer for dry skin, there are other tips to consider when completing your overall skincare routine.


While it might be tempting during the cold winter months to take a nice long hot shower or bath, reduce the heat to warm. Hot water robs skin of moisture. Also, long baths and showers, zap moisture from our skin. When taking a shower, shut the bathroom door to create a humid environment.

Post Shower

Pat your skin dry vs. aggressively toweling off. Leaving your skin, a bit damp, creates a prime base for applying a moisturizer. https://www.aad.org/skin-care-basics/dermatologists-tips-relieve-dry-skin

Skin Care Routine

Cleanse with a gentle cleanser (look for ceramides) vs. a harsh exfoliating cleanser. Reduce the number of times a day you cleanse your skin. Focus on finding the best moisturizer that works for your dry skin to provide a protective layer to prevent further moisture loss. Another key tip, use a daily SPF even during the winter months. Sun directly effects the moisture levels in our skin. Exposing skin to UV rays depletes skin of moisture.


Diet can play an essential role in the hydration of your skin. To keep your skin hydrated, focus on a healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, and high levels of omega fatty acids. Also, make sure you are remaining hydrated by drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day.


During winter, we combat the cold by cranking up the heat. Make sure to provide your skin a source of moisture in the air and try utilizing a humidifier. Also, cover up when outside. The more we expose our skin to cold dry wind and air, the further it removes moisture from our skin and breaks down our skin’s protective barrier.


While dry skin seems easy to remedy, apply more moisture, it is far more complex. If you want to find the best skincare routine for dry skin, you need to first get the correct diagnosis. Once you correctly diagnose your skin, you need to look at triggers in your environment, diet, age, products being placed on the skin, and genetics.

When looking at these factors, there is one common denominator. We are all different. While a large number of people suffer from dry skin, not all of us have the same root causes. The best solution in combatting dry skin is obtaining a personalized skincare routine. A personalized skincare routine will take all components into account providing an ongoing evolving solution. 

This article was originally published on provenskincare.com




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