Decoding Dehydrated Skin Part 2: How To Help It And What Products To Use

Skin Rescuer // Kiehl's // £29.50 Hydraluron Boosting Masks // Indeed Labs // £19.99 Hydraluron Boosting Masks // Indeed Labs // £19.99 Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask // Origins // £22.00 Papaya Enzyme Peel // Elemis // £29.50 Vinosource S.O.S. Thirst Quenching Serum // Caudalie // £27.55 Glow Tonic // Pixi // £16.00 Serozinc Astringent Toner // La Roche-Posay // £13.75
This is the second part of my in-depth guide to dehydrated skin, how to help it and some of the best ingredients in products to look out for. I’ll also recommend some skincare items that work for me. At the end of the post you’ll find a “Find Out More” section comprising links to resources that helped me better unscramble the jargon around skin dehydration, which I think you might find useful too. If you’re looking for my post on what dehydrated skin is and how to identify it, then please click here.

How Can I Treat It?

So, after figuring out your skin is dehydrated and some of the reasons that might be, the next thing to do is, (unless you like the whole Sahara forehead look) is to tackle it. To solve dehydration, the solution seems fairly obvious, and it’s the same thing that rehydrates us when we’re thirsty: water, of course – good ole H2 Ohh-yeah. Humans are made up of 70% water and you don’t need me to tell you that keeping refreshed and hydrated at all times is not only good for your body, it’s good for your skin, too. Often dehydrated skin is an external sign you’re not drinking enough water, and if you’re feeling tired or getting headaches then that’s your body telling you to up the quantity of water you’re drinking, which should make a big difference to the condition of your skin, too.

Products designed for dry skin can help, especially if you have dry and dehydrated skin, but if you also have oil in your skin then avoid anything that’s too rich (i.e. designed for replacing oil in dry skin) as it may easily cause breakouts. Needless to say, stay away from things like cleansing wipes and foaming cleansers, both of which make my skin desert-like whether dehydrated or not. It sounds complicated, but there is such an awareness of how many people actually have dehydrated skin these days, that plenty of skincare and even makeup ranges are designed to tackle dehydration. Anything with “hydrating” or “hydra” in the title is always a good sign for me.

Ingredients To Look Out For

As mentioned, most products that advertise hydrating qualities should help your dehydrated plight, as there are specific ingredients that are particularly effective at holding water in the skin, or injecting water back into it. Since learning about dehydrated skin I’m in the habit of looking for products that boast glycerin on their list of ingredients. Glycerin is a humectant found in all natural fats both animal and vegetable, it’s naturally found in human skin to prevent dryness and has been used in beauty products for generations, both natural and synthetic. Glycerin is great for dehydrated skin because of its ability to absorb water from the environment as well as lower layers of the skin (dermis) to increase the moisture levels on the surface levels of the skin (epidermis), reducing the effects of dehydration such as dry patches and scaliness (niiice).

Glycerin is good, but possibly the most important tool in your dehydration-busting kit, and the one I actively look for when purchasing skincare, is hyaluronic acid, a completely natural acid that, like glycerin, is produced naturally in skin anyway, but for various reasons such as age, stress and weather, its levels can decrease, causing dehydration. Hyaluronic acid is an ingredient in products that beauty editors and bloggers alike often get evangelical about and rightly so: it doesn’t produce but holds on to moisture in the skin, containing up to 1000% its own weight of water. By increasing the levels of hyaluronic acid in the skin through serum, moisturiser, mask or whatever hyaluronic product you’re using, the acid plumps up the skin and prevents dehydration. Basically, if you have dry and/or dehydrated skin, you need to get you some hyaluronic acid.

The good news is that whether you have dry or oily skin, it’s possible to find products that solve dehydration without exacerbating your other skin concerns. It’s possible to find products that have both hyaluronic acid and glycerin, and even if you have very oily skin these won’t make you break-out as there is no oil in these, only water.

Over time, hyaluronic acid will also repair skin texture and elasticity, leaving skin looking plumper, brighter and most likely younger too, but an important step to counter dehydration is also to make sure you exfoliate the skin and in doing so remove dead skin cells. Hot cloth cleansing with a flannel or muslin cloth will go some way to do this, but I also use a gentle exfoliating toner most days that contains alpha hydroxy acid or AHAs (you can get more heavy duty ones if your skin can handle it) and conduct a weekly facial peel (again, gentle) to make sure all the dead flaky bits are removed regularly (see the “Products I Recommend” bit below for specific items). Making sure there are no residual dry patches on the skin is important for surface texture and smoother application of make-up. By keeping on top of hydration in the skin in these ways, it’s possible to keep even badly dehydrated skin hydrated and nourished.

Products I Recommend

Laid out on the picture of the Scrabble board at the beginning of this post (clickable image map, aren’t I smart) are the products I use in conjunction with each other, many of which have been reviewed on Beauty de Beauvoir already. You may well find just one or two of these products keep your dehydration at bay, but as you can see I like to have OPTIONS.  First and foremost, without fail (lest there be dire consequences) I always, always make sure that my face is well cleansed – a good cream cleanser in the morning followed by a double cleanse in the evening – and lightly exfoliated with a flannel: that’s the first step. If using a face mask to remove the dead skin cells (once or twice weekly), apply that at this stage: the Papaya Enzyme Peel by Elemis does wonders to gently remove flakes from your face (and smells ah-mazing), or for a hyaluronic acid boost, Hydraluron Boosting Mask is a good one – a sheet mask that also comes in serum form, both of which I reviewed last week.

Instead of or after your mask, add a gentle exfoliating toner that contains AHAs such as Pixi Glow Tonic (old packaging), which does well to lightly sweep away any dead skin cells caused by dehydration, but is gentler (and cheaper) than the lauded P50. Then you want to start the hydration process with a soothing toner such as La Roche-Posay’s Serozinc, which I wrote about recently here, and whilst my face is still slightly damp I’ll go in with either Hydraluron serum or the simply lovely Caudalie Vinosource S.O.S. Thirst-Quenching Serum, both of which are rich with hyaluronic acid. Finally, add a moisturiser that is not “rich” but “hydrating” such as the excellent Kiehl’s Skin Rescuer will help boost your skin’s moisture levels, or you could use an overnight mask such as Origins Drink Up Intensive, which I tend to use about three times a week depending on how much my skin needs an extra moisture boost.

If you’ve made it to the end of this veritable thesis, and waded through both this and the previous post I did on identifying dehydrated skin, then CONGRATULATIONS, and thank you for reading. I hope this post has been vaguely useful to some of you out there who might be a bit unclear as to what dehydrated skin is. I’d love to read more product recommendations and your own experiences with dehydrated skin below, and please do point out any other good resources to find out more about skin dehydration (I’ve suggested a couple below that help me). Now I’m away to go and look at something else, because I’ve typed “dehydration” so much it no longer looks like a word.

Find Out More

The first inclination I had that maybe my skin wasn’t just incredibly dry, but dehydrated as well as being dry/combination came after watching this video by Sali Hughes back in 2011, and over time it’s completely changed the way I treat my skin. She recently made an updated and very comprehensive video on dehydrated skin in which she recommends the best products for the condition, a list I’m currently working through myself.

Oracle of skincare, Caroline Hirons, sets it as straight as can be with her dry or dehydrated skin cheat sheet (all the cheat sheets are excellent) and better yet her posts never fail to make me laugh. She gives particularly excellent advice if you’re confused as to whether you have dry, dehydrated or dry/dehydrated skin, so if that’s you then make sure you check out her advice.

  • Helen

    Great post!! And yes I read (and appreciated) the whole post!! Thanks and il be looking into the origins overnight mask on ur recommendation :) xx

  • Tais

    I love the Caudalie SOS but I am looking for a less expensive alternative. How do you compare the SOS and the Kiehl’s Skin Rescuer in terms of texture, feelin on the skin, performance ? Thank you in advance !

  • Claudia

    Thanks a lot for this very comprehensive post! I suffer from dehydrated skin as well, that awful feeling of parched skin is my every day companion. Winter season is the worst for me, as my skin turns into a drier state and becomes sentitive. Some of the products I’ve tried for dehydrated skin are: Vichy Aqualia moisturiser (good for spring-summer, but not enough for the cold season), Clarins hydra quench (again, good for summer only), Burtsbee hydrating face wash (with glycerin) and Hydraluron serum. I read wonderful things about the latter, but unfortunately it didn’t do anything for my skin. Also, I need to find a moisturiser for this coming winter season, tempted to get Kielh’s skin rescue, just hoping you could recommend something more affordable :)