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Should You Moisturise Or Hydrate Your Skin?

June 4, 2020

The right products and treatments for the right person; that’s our mantra for healthy skin, and it definitely applies to when your skin needs a little drink. Whether you should use a moisturiser or a hydrator will depend on the condition of your skin.

Clinically speaking, dehydrated means your skin is lacking water, but dry means that your skin is lacking in natural oils, known as sebum. Our Senior Dermal Clinician Kirsten explains that there are specific things the professionals look for when diagnosing a patient’s skin for dryness or dehydration.

Dry Skin

Your skin’s natural oils are produced through your pores. When your skin produces a lot of oil, your pores tend to expand. When your skin is dry and lacking in sebum, your pores shrink down. “Someone with dry skin won’t have any visible pores,” Kirsten says, “they’re also more likely to have sensitive skin, or skin that might be red, cracked or sore.” This is because sebum’s purpose in life is to protect the skin, she explains. If your skin is lacking in natural oils, then it’s probably not being protected as well as it could be.

There are five clinical categories used when talking about dry skin:

True dry: all areas of the face are lacking in natural oils, no visible pores

Combination Dry: some oil on the nose, but the rest of the face is dry

Combination: oils in the T-zone (forehead, nose, chin)

Combination oily: more oil production than combination, but the sides of the face are dry

Oily: there is oil production over the entire face, the skin may feel oily and there may be large pores

If your skin is dry, moisturisers are often the go-to, and they can help, but Kirsten recommends that you also treat the problem at its root cause. She recommends using serums with ingredients that help your skin regulate its natural oils, such as Vitamin A. If you have combination dry to combination oily, BHAs are an exfoliant that can remove the top layer of dead skin cells so your moisturiser can penetrate, and they’ll help regulate your skin’s natural oils too.

Dehydrated Skin

The difference between dry and dehydrated is that “dry” refers to a lack of oil and “dehydrated” refers to lacking water. “Most of us have dehydrated skin,” Kirsten says with a laugh. It’s often caused by not drinking enough water or spending time in dry atmospheres with heating or air conditioning.

If you pinch your skin and it crepes like an accordion with lots of little shallow lines, then it’s probably dehydrated. You can normally see the pores on dehydrated skin.

It’s tempting to assume that dehydrated skin needs a moisturiser because moisturisers seal hydration into the skin. This is fine for dry, dehydrated skin, but it’s also possible to have skin that’s dehydrated and oily. “For dehydrated skin, you need a hydrator,” Kirsten says. She recommends Hyaluronic Acid which binds water into the skin and Vitamin B because it helps support your skin’s natural self-moisturising mechanisms. Hyaluronic Acid occurs in your skin’s natural moisture barrier, so it’s a nice, non-irritating hydrator.

Squalene is also an option, though we recommend checking the source. All of our RejuvAus products contain a plant-based squalene sourced from olives, but some brands have used squalene sourced from sharks (an endangered species), so we recommend doing some homework before trying a new brand.

The reason that squalene is such a good hydrator is because it mimics skin’s natural moisturisers (it’s sometimes called “biomimetic” or “skin identical”), so it’s a non-irritating natural hydrator, even when sourced from plants like olives.

Drinking plenty of water and keeping yourself hydrated will also help your skin.

If your skin is oily and dehydrated, you can exfoliate with a BHA to help regulate oils and clear the top layer of dead skin so that your hydrating serums can penetrate better.

In summary, the moisturiser vs hydrator debate really comes down to which one your individual skin needs.

Would you like to know more about caring for your skin?

Come in and speak to one of our expert Skincare Product Specialists or Dermal Clinicians!

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