Saturday, February 5, 2011

Dry vs. Dehydrated Skin

Why do you make such a big deal about the difference between dry skin and dehydration?

I am including an email from a client to help explain my position on this very important subject: 

I’ve been meaning to write to you since we met in December because I’ve been so excited about my skin! First, I wanted to say it was so good to meet you! I loved talking with you, and I have to tell you how my skin has improved!!

After we figured out that the dry skin formula was probably the cause of my breakouts, I stopped using that specific moisturizer immediately. The breakouts soon stopped, and my skin started to clear up within a few days! (I was getting a new breakout almost every day.) Now, I might get one small breakout a week, mainly because I started eating sugar again over the holidays. I’ve got to wean myself off again! 

I’m also so thankful I met with you before I was in my cousin’s wedding this past weekend. My skin looked great for pictures, and I was even confident enough not to wear foundation! I will hopefully get down to see you for another facial in the spring and might bring some friends who are dying to meet you. Thanks again for everything!   

This client came into my office and had a lot of “unexplained” congestion. After asking her a series of questions, it was pretty obvious what the problem was: she was using products for dry skin because her skin felt dry even though she didn’t have true-dry skin. This is a big mistake, I assure you. If you have anything other than true-dry skin (skin that emits little to no oil), you can really create a lot of problems using dry skin products. Namely congestion and possibly breakouts. If your skin is producing enough or too much oil and you add oil on top of that, through the use of creams for dry skin for instance, watch out! 

From your point of view, your skin feels dry. It may be flaky and just feels tight. It does make sense that perhaps you need products for dry skin if, that is, you don’t understand the difference between true-dry skin and, what you most likely havedehydrated skin. I have clients who come in regularly and say their skin is dry when the truth is it is simply dehydrated. And I have taken a number of clients off their dry skin products and helped them have healthier, less oily skin. Just like this client’s comments illustrate, if you are using the wrong products for your skin type, it can have disastrous results.

If you are having problems with your skin, there is a reason. Something is causing the problems. And if you don’t go at the cause, whether it be the dehydration or perhaps breakouts from using dry skin products when you don’t have true-dry skin, the problems will no doubt persist. 

Yesterday, a new client came in for a facial treatment. She had just moved from Southern California to the Boulder area. She was feeling the drying effects of Colorado air plus the deep, cold temperatures of a winter in the mountains. She, too, thought perhaps she needed products for dry skin (true-dry) when in fact she has normal to oily skin that is very dehydrated.

This dry vs. dehydrated skin issue comes up so often in my practice and I will continue to write about it since so many people (even—unfortunately—aestheticians) dont truly understand the difference between these very different skin conditions. For more clarification, see: