Keeping your skin hydrated is essential, regardless of skin type. Whether you have dry skin, oily skin, or combination skin, you should be enriching your face with moisture-rich products daily. In addition to that, you should also be mindful of how you’re nourishing your body — do you drink enough water, for instance?
Knowing how to hydrate your skin — from the outside and inside — will allow you to bask in a radiant, glowing complexion at any time of year. We’ll take a look at how you can keep your skin hydrated according to your skin type.
Hydrating Versus Moisturising
Before we go further, let’s take a closer look at the terms “hydrating” and “moisturising.” These two words are often used interchangeably, but there are nuances:
- Hydrating products help draw moisture to your skin.
- Moisturising products seal in your skin’s moisture while fortifying its lipid barrier, preventing water loss.
Knowing the difference between hydrating and moisturising will help you decide which skincare products you’ll need to address any moisture-related concerns.
How to Hydrate Your Skin From the Outside
The skincare products you use can help or hinder your hydration. In many cases, the product itself is perfectly fine — just not for your skin. Here are the ingredients and items you should consider incorporating into your routine based on your skin type.
Hydrating Dry Skin
Dry skin, also known by its medical term xerosis, occurs when the skin lacks natural oils. Symptoms typically include itching, flaky skin, and a feeling of tightness that may even be painful. Seasonal changes, usually from warm to cold, can exacerbate dry skin.
Generally, dry skin benefits from moisturising, as it needs help locking in oil, but it also needs to be properly hydrated in order to avoid dehydration (more on that later).
Here is how you can hydrate dry skin:
1. Build a Daily Skincare Routine for Dry Skin Concerns
A nourishing routine for dry skin focuses on replenishing and locking in moisture while drawing in hydration. Anything that’s formulated with a high pH or an irritant (such as a synthetic fragrance) can strip away any remaining oil. The best moisturisers for dry skin are thicker occlusive creams or lotions. They do a sound job of fortifying your skin’s lipid barrier, preventing trans-epidermal water loss.
2. Invest in a Humidifier
If your dry skin is more prevalent in arid environments or during the winter months, it’s because the air is lacking water for your skin to pull in. A humidifier in your home or office will add water to the air, which will benefit your skin.
A humidifier can also help enhance the efficacy of your hyaluronic acid-based skincare products. A well-known humectant, hyaluronic acid pulls moisture from the air and draws it into your skin. However, using this ingredient in a dry environment will draw water from your skin instead, leaving it more dry.
In addition to a humidifier, being mindful of how you regulate temperatures indoors can also help save your skin from becoming too dry. Heating systems and air conditioners can keep you comfortable, but overexposure to either can affect your skin condition, leading to dryness and dullness.
3. Take Cooler Showers
Showering doesn’t hydrate your skin, but it does have the potential to damage it if you overdo it with the hot water. While all skin types can benefit from this advice, it’s especially pertinent for anyone with dry skin. Hot showers will strip your skin of its natural oils, which can result in peeling, cracking, and a sunburn-like flush. To keep your skin healthy post-rinse, keep showers lukewarm and no longer than 15 minutes.
4. Don’t Over-Exfoliate
Exfoliating is a great way to revitalise your dry skin. But make sure you don’t over-exfoliate. It’s natural to want to slough away dead skin every chance you can, but exfoliating too much can potentially make your skin drier and more prone to flaking. Try to limit exfoliation to once a week, or whatever your skin can handle.
Hydrating Oily Skin
Oily skin needs to be hydrated, too. In fact, oily skin overproduces sebum (oil) to compensate for a lack of moisture (water). But the approach to hydrating oily skin should be different than that of dry skin, which is already lacking in natural oils.
Here is how you can hydrate oily skin:
1. Build a Daily Skincare Routine for Oily Skin Concerns
A skincare routine for oily skin should include at least a gentle facial cleanser, balancing toner, and light, water-based moisturiser that won’t clog pores. Exfoliating at least once a week to remove dead skin cells and other impurities will enable your skin to better absorb hydrating products.
2. Use a Hydrating Face Mask
Because oily skin craves water, you should be using hydrating products that will keep drawing moisture to your skin. A wash-off hydrating mask is an effective and easy way to achieve this. Using a mask once or twice a week will give your complexion an extra boost of hydration. Key ingredients to look for are hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and chamomile extract.
3. Travel With a Misting Spray
For hydration on-the-go, keep a hydrating mist spray in your travel bag. It will ensure that your complexion will not be left wanting for water and other nourishing ingredients.
Hydrating Combination Skin
Combination skin has the symptoms of both dry and oily skin. If you have this skin type, you may have larger pores in your T-zone (forehead and nose), which are prone to excess oil. Meanwhile, your cheeks and jaw will tend to be drier.
Figuring out how to properly care for combination skin, especially in regards to hydration, can be perplexing.
Hydrating Dehydrated Skin
Dehydrated skin and dry skin have overlapping symptoms. However, the former is a temporary condition due to a lack of water while the latter is a skin type that lacks natural oils. You can develop dehydrated skin if you have combination or oily skin.
Your skin is dehydrated when it’s dull, irritated, painful, or itchy. Dehydrated skin can even yield temporary fine lines or more pronounced under-eye circles.
One of the most important things you can do for dehydrated skin is to rebuild your skin’s lipid barrier. Look for lotions or creams that contain ceramides. Per a 2003 study from the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, ceramides are key in “structuring and maintaining” the permeability of the lipid barrier — which not only helps keep water in but makes sure bacteria stay out.
How to Hydrate Your Skin From the Inside Out
When it comes to the link between diet and skin hydration, there is proof that what you consume can impact your complexion. Make sure to include the following in your diet.
1. Drink Plenty of Water
This is advice that is useful, if not oversimplified a lot of the time. Drinking water alone won’t make your complexion glow, but it certainly helps. For instance, a 2015 study featured in the Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology Journal found that increasing water intake could have the same effect on skin as applying a topical moisturiser for those with dry skin. The amount of water you need to drink daily in order to see any benefit from it varies by individual.
2. Incorporate Fatty Acids
Polyunsaturated fatty acids are also known as healthy fats. They consist of omega–3 and omega–6. One of the symptoms of a deficiency in either of these fatty acids is “rough, scaly skin and dermatitis.” If you suspect you’re lacking in these healthy fats, eat more fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines. For a non-seafood alternative, look to chia seeds or flax seeds. A regular dietary supplement can also help.
3. Eat More Fruit
Consuming more water-dense fruits can potentially lead to healthier, more hydrated skin. A 2018 study in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients shows that increased fruit intake decreased the risks of seborrheic dermatitis, a skin condition that causes scaling and flaking in oily areas of the skin.
(It’s worth noting that the study also theorised that the pectin present in many fruits may have calmed symptoms of colonic microbiota dysbiosis, which is a digestive condition that’s often associated with a number of inflammatory skin diseases.)
Adding more fruit to your diet can help keep you hydrated in between glasses of water. Seek out watermelon, strawberries, oranges, tomatoes, and other fruit with high water content. Of course, adding these to your diet will also yield other benefits, such as vitamin C and antioxidants.
The Importance of Hydrating Your Skin
Striking the right balance of water and oil in your skin can be a challenge, especially when your efforts are hindered by forces beyond your control. This is where proper knowledge of your skin, and your body as a whole, comes in handy.
First, knowing your skin type will allow you to follow a routine that will replenish moisture without introducing new problems. Being aware of the key difference between hydrating and moisturising will aid you in selecting the products that will give your skin just what it needs, not more of what it doesn’t.
Meanwhile, take stock of your diet and liquid consumption. Keep a journal of what you consume every day. If you suspect that you may be suffering from a deficiency or other underlying medical condition, visit your dermatologist or healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
With the right knowledge, products, diet, and habits, you can successfully keep your skin well-hydrated all year round.