3 Game-Changing Ways to Deeply Hydrate Your Skin

Most of our favorite facialists’ trips lead to the dreaded diagnosis of dehydration. No matter how well you take care of your skin, this is a common problem.

“Dehydrated skin is skin that is dehydrated or has a decreased ability to retain water; it feels tight, dry and in more severe cases, you’ll see flaking and irritation,” says Dr. Ifeoma Ejikeme, a holistic medical consultant. Professional aestheticians. Many of us know from personal experience that dry skin also often looks dull and fine lines can appear more pronounced. It immediately – and devastatingly – hinders a brighter glow.

In addition to the brightness factor, Pamela Marshall , clinical esthetician and co-founder of Mortar & Milk , says it’s important to keep skin well hydrated and moisturized because it reduces the likelihood of inflammatory markers, such as acne breakouts or flushing. “Dehydrated skin sends messages to the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum,” she explains. “This excess sebum enters the sebaceous unit of the hair follicle, causing it to swell and become inflamed. When the skin is dehydrated, the capillary network also expands [leading to increased redness].” Properly hydrating the skin will calm these markers of inflammation.

But how? Here, we’ve found the easiest way – with the help of an expert.

It all starts with your diet
Not surprisingly, drinking water is a top priority for hydrating your skin, but it’s also important to combine it with a healthy dose of essential fatty acids. “Internally, our skin is both hydrophilic [tends to mix with water] and lipophilic [attracted to lipids], which means we need both water and lipids to stay hydrated,” says Marshall. “Foods such as nuts, seeds, avocados and oily fish can positively impact the overall hydration levels of the skin as well as the dermal levels.” She also recommends taking omega supplements.

Stay away from active
“For truly hydrated skin, we must also look at the ingredients we use that may cause dehydration (or transepidermal water loss). You can use all the moisturizers in the world, but if you overuse ingredients like alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA), you will always find yourself suffering from dehydration,” says Marshall. While actives such as acids and retinoids are brilliant ingredients that can do wonders for the skin, Marshall says most consumers don’t know how to use them properly. “Actives are like a piece of cake – they’re wonderful to use occasionally, but they can wreak havoc on your skin’s health if used daily. It’s about finding a balance between actives, antioxidants and protectants.”

For those who want a foolproof way to reap the benefits of exfoliation without stripping the skin, she’s a big fan of adding polyhydroxy acids (or PHAs) to skincare routines because they can do everything that AHAs do – from exfoliating to smoothing – to -in a way that is more sustainable in the long run. Because they have a higher molecular weight than AHA, they don’t irritate the skin and help reduce inflammation while exfoliating. They also act as antioxidants and moisturizers, which help protect and retain skin moisture, respectively.

In the meantime, Dr. Ejikeme recommends listening to your skin. If it feels dehydrated or particularly irritated, stop or at least significantly reduce any exfoliation and use ingredients that help reduce transepidermal water loss by strengthening the skin barrier (such as ceramides and niacinamides), as they can help support collagen production and the skin’s barrier function. Also make sure you use a gentle cleanser to cleanse your skin rather than any overly harsh cleanser.

Fill your skin care routine with moisturizers
While hyaluronic acid is the ingredient everyone raves about – and quite rightly so – for its moisturizing abilities (it’s known to hold its own weight in water a thousand times over), there are other moisturizing heroes to look out for on the skincare ingredient label . “Glycerin is well suited as a natural moisturizing factor for the skin,” says Dr. Ejikeme. “It’s cheap, but we don’t hear much about it because it’s overshadowed by hyaluronic acid.” Glycerin can be found in many excellent products, and as a smaller molecule, it is able to penetrate the skin more deeply than HA and helps prevent irritation. It is suitable for all skin types and does not cause acne, so oily and acne-prone people can also benefit from it.

Dr. Ejikeme also highlights other moisturizers that can be incorporated into the routine, including panthenol and aloe vera. “Ingredients such as ceramides, sphingosine and fatty acids also help lock in moisture,” she says. While serums are the way forward in terms of delivering moisture to the skin, moisturizers act as a “protective blanket” and lock in the ingredients, which also helps prevent dehydration.

As with all skin care products, Marshall says consistency and long-term use are key if you want to see results. “With topical products, we need to understand that most skincare products deal primarily with the outer layer of the skin (or stratum corneum), which is made up of mature or dead cells, because cosmetics are regulated for safety,” she says. “This means that most of the products we use initially affect only the outer layer and don’t affect the function of the skin in the short term.” In the long run, however, it has a positive impact.