How to Fix Your Dehydrated Skin
In summer, it's the A/C that does it. In winter, it's being outdoors in the sun. The seasons are so arranged that you've got to constantly find solutions on how to fix your dehydrated skin.
It’s hard enough to keep your skin hydrated while you’re awake. If you neglect to drink enough water or forget to use moisturiser, suddenly your skin is parched and the consequences are seen and felt. And it’s even harder to manage it while you’re passed out each night. For that 6-8 hours, your body is left to its own devices – and whatever roster of variables you’ve introduced to it, from a bone-dry A/C to a lack of night creams.
Before we get into all that, let’s discuss why keeping your skin hydrated is important: Because when it is dehydrated, it is more easily irritated. It ages faster, it breaks out more, and it looks discolored or uneven in tone. By keeping yourself and your skin hydrated, you strengthen and repair its barrier functions, says Dr. David Lortscher, board-certified dermatologist, CEO and founder of Curology. It’s an organ that needs nourishment, and it can’t look healthy and divine if you don’t treat it well. Lortscher adds that having hydrated skin can minimise signs of aging and lead to a smoother, even complexion. So, there you go.
And, quickly, it’s important to note that this article focuses on dehydrated skin, not dry skin. The former refers to a lack of water. The latter refers to a skin type – someone whose skin doesn’t naturally produce as much oil as another’s. We’re addressing the importance of preserving your skin’s water levels here.
Assess your environment, habits, and regimen
Because staying hydrated overnight (in terms of your skin, not the entire body) is more than just drinking lots of water, you need to examine the factors in your room and life that might be contributing to overnight skin dehydration. Lortscher has his patients review the following things whenever they seek help for the matter.
Existing bedtime skincare regimen: “Are you using a moisturiser? You may consider using an occlusive moisturiser that provides a layer of oil on the skin's surface, slowing down water loss. These will typically contain petrolatum, mineral oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, jojoba oil, evening primrose oil, olive oil, or silicones,” he says. (Try Malin + Goetz Replenishing Face Cream.)
Water intake: “You would have to be severely lacking in fluid intake to have this result in dry skin,” Lortscher says. “According to the CDC, if you’re doing the following three things, you won’t need to worry about dehydration: making water your main choice of drink, drinking water when thirsty, and drinking water with meals.”
Shower temperature: “Are you using warm water when you’re washing your face or showering before bed? While it may feel amazing, very hot water could strip your skin of its natural oils, and lead to dry, itchy skin or even rashes,” Lortscher says. “Consider lowering your shower temperature to prevent your skin from drying out.
Air quality and moisture: “Are you cranking up the air-conditioner or furnace? Maintaining a comfortable room temperature with proper humidity levels above 30 percent will help keep your skin hydrated. Fans and central air conditioning or heating may contribute to dry room air, causing or aggravating dry skin. Running a humidifier can help immensely.”
Diet: Are you eating foods rich in essential fatty acids? Diet can play a role in skin health, and it’s paid off while you sleep, which is when your body regenerates and benefits most richly from your good diet. Focus on the Omega-3 foods: salmon, walnuts, flaxseed, egg yolks, etc.
Do this bedtime regimen
Here are the products you should be using – and avoiding – in order to preserve your skin’s moisture while you snooze.
A gentle cleanser: Lortscher recommends using non-soap skin cleansers, since “regular” soaps can dry up the skin by throwing off its pH balance. (Try Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser.)
Night cream + retinol: Lortscher says that your nightly retinol application can come in the form of creams with over-the-counter retinol or a prescription retinoid, such as tretinoin. “This can be an effective way to improve skin texture, reduce the appearance of fine lines, and brighten the skin,” he says. “But because retinol causes a quick turnover of skin cells, flaky skin might result. If you have dry skin, this is the opposite of what you want. A good moisturising routine can mitigate any drying effects of a retinol cream.”
Harsh physical exfoliators and toners These can irritate the skin and compromise its healthy oil levels.
Clay masks: “For some complexions, this can be overdrying,” Lortscher explains. “When the mask reaches the flaking stage, this may result in feelings of dryness, tightness or even itchiness. This may be a sign that your natural skin barrier is becoming compromised. You might want to remove the mask before it reaches that stage.”