Friday, 8 August 2014

"Dehydrated? But I Drink Tons of Water!"

Ever have that tight dry skin feeling even though your face feels like an oil slick? This is the blog post for you.

Every well trained esthetician knows the horrors that dehydration can cause to skin: itchyness, break outs, appearance of ageing, flakiness, over production of oil, uneven skin texture etc. so why is it so misunderstood? Most estheticians also remembers that moment in their first week of school where they realized they really have very little understanding of how their skin works and neither does the general public so their life's work will be to educate everyone who will kindly listen to them babble on... or maybe that's just us.

People often mix up dry skin (which is a skin type) and dehydrated skin (which is a skin condition). Skin conditions can be changed, generally skin types are what they are and only ageing changes them. For example an oily skin will always have large pores (because pore size is the main determining factor for skin type, unless you're a sensitive skin) but the average "ideal" oil production will decrease with ageing.

Dehydrated skin means your epidermis lacks the amount of water it needs. Hydrating products can be oil free, a lot of them are, because hydrating products will contain humectants, the most common one being hylauronic acid. A big component of keep skin hydrated is making sure the NMF and Acid Mantle are happy, harsh detergents (like products containing SLS) can contribute to throwing your skin off balance.

I know what you're thinking? What the heck is my NMF and Acid Mantle??? Your NMF (or Natural Moisture Factor) is a layer of tightly packed dead skin cells that acts as a physical barrier, or roof, to keep out bacteria and keep in yummy skin necessities like hydration. Now this roof is in a windy hard climate, because let's face it, your skin takes in a lot of environmental abuse day to day. Your Acid Mantle is your oil and sweat production, this helps keep the NMF lubricated and flexible (we at Saul's have never built a roof, so let's assume tar does that? Keeps the ol' shingles happy? I dunno). They're a happy partnership like Turk and JD.
This is a happy NMF roof protecting it's hydration
The horrible life of hydration in your skin with a sad NMF roof

When product penetrates too deeply and easily then your skin will freak out, we see this occasionally in facials, our nice Aromatherapy Associates Hydrating Rose Mask will all the sudden be a source or burning, tingling and sometimes redness. Gel's especially trigger this since they're penetrating mamma jammas. The reddness is your mast cells being activated, which means your body is aware things are not going well. The response will be to produce more oil to help lube up your NMF into repair. The problem is that your NMF has, at this point, turned to loose and flaky dead skin cells by the openings of your pores. For a lot of people this can lead to congestion and that tight dry feeling even though your have oily shine.

At this point as an esthetican our priority is a) to find any skin offenders/causes of the dehydration b) introduce soothing and repairing products, it's rare that these don't come with a plethora of hydrating ingredients as well. There can be an adjustment period when it comes to oil production but sometimes the best treatment for what feels like oily skin really is hydration. Once your skin rebalances then the side effects of dehydration can really be targeted.

So why doesn't your consumption of water seem to be hitting your skin? Well I'm sure it is on some level but really at the end of the day, the skin you see is dead and it's function is to be the protector if you vital organs and systems. Your body will general allocate water for parts you can't see. If you're also in a harsh environment, a smoker or using strong cleansers on your skin then the hydration won't stick around very long.

It's a lot of information, and this is a very simplified summary of it. If you have any questions or concerns feel free to shoot us an email or come by the shop to chat about it and we'll help guide you.

Request an appointment online for a custom skincare treatment by clicking here!