Your skin remains moisturized from two sources: oil and water. One, it makes, the other it can't. How the two stay in balanced is the key to keeping skin happy.
Staying hydrated is crucial for any part of our body to function properly. It’s especially true for our skin, the body’s largest organ. Our skin is quite the multitasking wonder, giving us shape, protecting us from the elements, absorbing what we put on it, and eliminating toxins. To do all that, and look good while doing it, our skin needs sufficient hydration.
How It Works: Hydration and the Skin
To be happy and and healthy, every skin type actually needs to maintain a balance of two types of moisture: water and oil.
Our skin produces some oil naturally – the different skin types you’re probably familiar with (oily, dry, etc.) are largely determined by how much oil your skin provides on its own. We can give our skin oil through facial oil, oil-based serums as well as supplementing with Essential Fatty Acids - Omegas. Most of us are EFA deficient and this will result in a dry, lipid poor skin.
Water-based hydration has to be constantly replenished from the outside in. This comes from water you drink throughout the day, your diet, and the products you put on your skin (water-based moisturizers, serums, etc.).
If your skin lacks water, your skin is dehydrated.
This comes and goes based on diet, environment, product use, and other factors. Everyone needs ample water-based hydration in their daily skincare routine, especially if you live in a city, drink coffee, exercise regularly, fly, live or work in air-conditioned or heated environments, have stress, or put your pants on one leg at a time.
If your skin is lacking oil, it’s dry.
Drier skin types naturally produce very little oil and need plenty of oil-based moisture and EFA supplements in their daily skincare routines to prevent pre-mature aging.
What happens if my skin is dehydrated?
What many people don’t realize is that when the skin gets depleted of the water-based the hydration it needs - dehydration, it’s goes into overdrive trying to protect itself by making more of the only kind of moisture it knows how to - oil! Seeing that sheen, many of us reach for more drying products (harsh cleansers, over-cleansing) to try and manage “excess oil,” not realizing that the root cause is simply skin that needs waaaay more hydration. More often than not, that oil slick is your skin’s cry for help in the form of water-based moisture.
Trying to dry out oily, dehydrated skin can be the beginning of an all too common, skin-ravaging domino effect. When you start reaching for stripping foaming face washes, astringent toners, or charcoal and clay face masks that promise to fight oil and acne but that your skin doesn’t actually need, you also then start stripping your natural oils, resulting in a compromised barrier, which in itself will create a whole host of other problems!
With daily use of too many drying products, although your oil won’t slow down (it will fight even harder) the lipid barrier that keeps your skin strong and flexible eventually breaks down, and your skin becomes sensitised due to an impaired barrier. Sensitised skin is reactive and cranky. It breaks out easily or gets a rashy, bumpy texture easily. Sensitised skin causes breakouts, discoloration, and rapid aging - and it usually begins with skin that hasn’t been getting the balance of hydration it needs.
Sensitised skin also happens to be the most rapidly growing skin condition in New Zealand, thanks to our collective love of suds and fear of clogged pores.
Everyone needs a balance of both water and oil for the skin to physically function as it should, and only then can it truly look its best. Your skin type and current conditions will help determine how much of each type you should focus on giving your skin in your daily routine, and your Facialist can help you navigate the tools and healthy habits that just may be your blackhead/breakout breakthrough.
Soak: The Power of 5.
After you've cleansed your skin, use a flannel or muslin cloth to impart hydration directly to the skin. Submerge your cloth into warm water (Not too hot) wring out any excess water and press the cloth onto your skin and 'compress' for 5 seconds repeat x 5. This is what we call 'soaking' and is an amazing way to superficially hydrate the skin throughout the seasons.