When it comes to dry skin and dehydrated skin, we all know they’re both a huge pain to deal with. But most of us don’t realize there’s a fundamental difference between the two conditions, and each should be treated differently. Today we’re here to tackle the trickier of the two ― dry skin.
“Dehydrated skin lacks water moisture, and dry skin lacks oil,” explains Jeni Sykes, co-founder and head of skincare at Heyday, a New York City facial shop. “Understanding which kind of moisture your skin specifically needs can go a long way in helping you choose products that are right for you.”
A facialist can look at your skin under a light to determine whether you’ve got dry or dehydrated skin. But if you’ve ever experienced an oil slick on your face ― even if it’s currently dry and flaky ― chances are you probably just have dehydrated skin, according to Sykes’ guidelines.
Dry skin, on the other hand, simply doesn’t produce much (if any) oil — not even in the humidity of summer. And that’s a problem, because oil holds your skin’s moisture in place. Without it, your skin becomes dry and irritated.
Unfortunately, oil production is usually determined by genetics. But there’s plenty you can do to hydrate your dry skin.
“For skin that’s lacking oil, you want to replenish oil-based moisture daily. Swim in facial oil,” says Sykes. “You can layer an oil serum under a rich moisturizer if one alone doesn’t quench your skin.”
You may be drying your skin even further without realizing it. Sykes says there are some especially drying ingredients lurking in our everyday skincare products. “You can look for ingredients like clays, charcoal, salicylic acid, willow bark and witch hazel,” she says. “A little of these thing can be good for anyone, but daily use of many oil-wicking ingredients is best left to those who have more than enough oil to begin with. You want to add, not take.”
Below is a Sykes-approved lineup of products that will help plump up your dry skin. This routine has worked wonders for us.
As always, consult your dermatologist before changing your beauty routine — especially if you have eczema, rosacea or any other skin conditions.
Step 1: Cleanse with an oil every day
One Love Organics
Many foaming cleansers strip your skin of its oil (and if you have naturally dry skin to begin with, this is only making matters worse). But this oil cleanser gently removes all your makeup while actually adding moisture. Just massage a pump of it into dry (not damp) skin, and then rinse or wipe it off for a dewy complexion. This 2-for-1 product also contains a fruit enzyme that helps slough off dead skin cells. One Love Organics vitamin B enzyme cleansing oil and makeup remover, $42
Here's another good one that's more affordable. As expected from Burt's Bees, this one is 100 percent natural and is made with coconut and argan oils. It even removes eye makeup like magic.
Step 2: Exfoliate 2-3 times a week with a product that uses enzymes
Dry skin tends to hang around and clog your pores, so you need to do some work to keep things extra clean. A great way to do this naturally is to use an enzyme peel. Don't let the word "peel" scare you -- this isn't a chemical peel, and you won't walk away with a red face. The enzymes in this mask will gently clean your pores, jojoba beads will smooth the surface of your skin, and pear puree makes sure your skin doesn't dry out in the process. Also, this smells good enough to eat.
Step 3: Drench your skin in a moisturizing mask a few times a week
Now you need your freshly cleaned skin to drink up a ton of moisture. The best way to do that is with a cream mask. And there are a ton of options out there.
This one is it in terms of moisturizing masks. It's made with oats, wild pansies, resveratrol from grape extracts and blueberries, and it reduces redness like nobody's business. You will glow like a Christmas tree after you use this. (Editor's note: Speaking as someone with no oil production, this is seriously a godsend.)
If your skin doesn't produce much oil on its own, one way to make up for that is by applying an oil serum. A little of this packs a big, moisturizing punch -- but the magic is that it still manages to feel light. It's made with just 4 ingredients: avocado oil, geranium oil, turmeric oil and coffee oil. Make sure you massage the drops into your face until it's totally absorbed -- it may take a few minutes.
Step 5: Creative a protective barrier with a super-rich moisturizing cream every day
To finish things off, apply a rich cream. The makers of this S.W. Basics cream say it best: “You know how lots of lotions and moisturizers leave you needing more, like ten minutes after you put them on? That's because they use water as a base. When it evaporates, you dry out all over again.” But this cream doesn’t have any water-based ingredients. It’s made with just organic shea butter, olive oil and coconut oil, and it’s just as great on your body as it is on your face.