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If you have been applying your face cream this morning and it just ‘sort of’ did what you wanted it to, then you probably have not nailed whether you have dry or dehydrated skin.
“You can actually see and feel a difference between dry and dehydrated skin,” says Georgia Louise, La Mer Global Ambassador and Facialist to Jennifer Aniston. ‘Dehydrated skin feels tight and looks dull with superficial fine lines. Dryness can manifest itself as redness, flakes and an uneven texture. ‘
Also important: dryness refers to a skin type. Dehydration is a temporary skin condition that can be reversed.
Here’s a breakdown of the main differences and what you can do to make your skin look as close to perfect as your Paris filter …
Do a DIY test
Smile to try for dehydration – it’s that simple.
‘If it feels tight, you probably suffer from dehydrated skin,’ says Louise. ‘If you see dark circles and an optic in fine lines, this is also an indication.’
To test for dryness, rub gently on one area of skin. ‘If you see loose skin cells in the form of flakes, or your face quickly turns red and becomes inflamed, then you have dry skin.’
Dry skin and how to treat it
Dry skin lacks oil because it produces less sebum than normal skin.
As a result, it lacks the lipids it needs to retain moisture, make rough skin feel smooth and keep the skin barrier strong, “says Paula BegounFounder of Paul’s Choice Skincare.
This is particularly true of black skin, which naturally has lower levels of lipids than white skin. What’s more, the dead cells on its surface dissolve not so quickly, which can give dark skin a grayish cast.
Lactic acid is an exfoliator that is gentle enough to use on dry skin to eliminate the ashiness.
‘Avoid over exfoliating though as this will drain skin from moisture,’ says Louise. ‘Once or twice a week should be enough.’
The Inky List Lactic Acid Exfoliant, £ 7.99, looks fantastic
When scanning the list of ingredients in search of the best moisturizer for dry skin, look for humectants like glycerin, which draw moisture from the atmosphere into the skin.
‘Also important are repairing ceramides [a form of lipids or fat molecules], ‘Says Begon. ‘The fill in the cracks between skin cells by forming a protective layer that limits moisture loss and protects against damage from pollution.’
In other words, ceramides give skin its plump, hydrated, balanced appearance.
On labels, you will see them listed as Ceramide AP, Ceramide EOP, Ceramide NG, Ceramide NP, Ceramide NS, Phytosphingosine and Sphingosine.
All these products are a rich source of ceramides:
Drunk elephant Lala whipped retro cream, 50 pounds, cult beauty
Elizabeth Arden Limited Edition Advanced Ceramide Capsules, £ 67, looks fantastic
CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, £ 9, looks fantastic
Paula’s Choice Clinical Ceramide-Enriched Firming Moisturizer, £ 55, Net-a-Porter
Dehydrated skin and how to treat it
Dehydrated skin, on the other hand, lacks water, not oil. ‘So you can have an oily complexion but still have dehydrated skin,’ ‘says Louise.
Dehydration is caused by many factors, but the most common are low humidity, diet, hot showers and central heating, which sip skin from water and make it more sensitive during the harsh winter months.
Look for moisturizers with ingredients that prevent water loss. Hyaluronic acid is the gold standard as it is a sponge-like molecule that naturally attracts water. It then binds it to the collagen in your skin, giving your face back its divinity.
You will find hyaluronic acid in all the products:
Dr.Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Hydration Booster, £ 68, Lookfantastic
La Mer The Moisturizing Cool Yellow Cream, £ 125, John Lewis
The usual hyaluronic acid 2% + B5, 5.90 lbs, cult beauty
The golden rule for both
Whether you have dry or dehydrated skin, the biggest mistake people make is incorrectly layering their skin care, says Louise.
She says’ Always remember to layer your products in order. Start with the lightest first, like serums, and work your way to the heaviest in texture. These are your creams, oils and sunscreens. ‘
Why is this important? Products designed for traveling in the deeper layers of skin, like serums, are made from tiny molecules. Moisturizer, on the other hand, has larger molecules as it sits on the upper layers.
“A serum placed on top of moisturizer cannot penetrate through the larger molecules,” she adds.
To seal the deal, Louise also recommends using oil as the final step at night. ‘Wearing a top coat such as La Mer’s The Concentrate will enclose the nutrition of every other step of your regimen.’
La Mer the concentrate, £ 155, Harrods
Trust us, this combo is guaranteed to give even the most low skin its juiciness.