When you’re trying to determine the state of your skin, it usually falls into two categories: dry or oily. Some of us fall in the middle and have combination skin, with some dry patches and an oily T-zone -- super fun stuff. I’ve always thought I erred on the side of oily, mostly because I’m definitely not dry. But, to my surprise, there’s another option: dehydrated. Which actually makes a lot of sense.
You see, dehydrated skin will work to overcorrect itself. It’s not dry, per se (you won’t notice flakiness or itchiness like typical dry skin), but it’s not hydrated enough, either. The issue with dry skin is that it doesn’t have enough oil-producing glands doing their jobs; dehydrated skin, on the other hand, means those oil-producing glands are working overtime. Your skin tries so hard to hydrate itself that it defaults to pumping out more oil. Dry skin is the opposite of oily, while dehydrated skin is chock full of oil.
So, oily skin can simply be a condition as a result of dehydration, not necessarily your skin type. But regardless, oil leads to clogged pores, which leads to angry breakouts. What’s an oily gal to do?
The thing is, dehydrated skin doesn’t want more oil -- and neither do you. It wants more water. Your first instinct may be to slather on a thick moisturizer, but that’s actually not necessarily the solution (though moisturizing is an important step for any skin maintenance, so don’t skip it!). Like I said, your skin needs hydration, not necessarily just moisture -- that would be a remedy for dry skin. For dehydrated skin, you want good ol’ H2O.
Serums get applied to the skin before moisturizers and work a little differently. They’re more concentrated, for one thing, and therefore can more directly fight against the conditions you’re not happy with. For dehydrated skin, specifically, a hyaluronic acid is the most important. It’s a molecule that naturally exists in the skin, but if you’re feeling dehydrated, you probably need to help your skin along and supplement it.
Exfoliating also helps, since sloughing away dead skin (with alpha-hydroxy and beta-hydroxy acids versus physical exfoliants, please and thank you) will help your serums and moisturizers soak in and do their jobs.
And for quick, extra hydration, keep a face mist handy and give yourself a spray whenever you need a pick-me-up dose of moisture, or apply a hydrating mask at night a few days a week.
You may be asking: How did I even get here? Dehydrated skin can be due to a bunch of different factors, not excluding weather, environment, diet and caffeine intake, so just keep an eye on your lifestyle and try to limit anything that isn’t serving you. And, of course, drink your water.