SOS– How to Identify & Fix Dehydrated Skin

Let's get to the bottom of this commonly misdiagnosed and misunderstood skin condition.

Signs of Dehydrated Skin

Dehydrated skin is a widespread cosmetic condition that is often mistaken for dry skin. The appearance and symptoms of both skin problems are, in a sense, similar. However, there are quite a few distinguishing facets that eliminate the guessing game. For one thing, it can be a lot trickier to maintain hydrated skin since the environment we live in and skincare mistakes can easily ruin it. Another deciphering factor is that dehydrated, thirsty skin is due to a lack of water in the skin caused by transepidermal water loss (TEWL– shown below in the diagram). A lack of moisture disrupts the skin's natural cellular renewal process, leading to a build-up of skin cells and a compromised stratum corneum, the outermost protective layer of the skin. A compromised stratum corneum gives you that dry, flaky, tight, dull, itchy skin feeling

Process of TEWL (transepidermal water loss)

Some common identifying marks include:

➣ Skin that doesn't bounce back immediately when poked at or pinched at. 

Shiny, crinkly looking skin ("cellophane" looking) 

➣ Dry skin that feels oily at the same time. 

Tightness around the upper cheeks and forehead. 

➣ Skin with more prominent lines and wrinkles

➣ Itchiness 

Sensitized skin.

Dull-looking skin with more visible eye bags. 

➣ Red, blotchy skin.


Ways to Treat Dehydrated Skin

The good news is that dehydrated skin is a skin condition, not a permanent skin type, so it's treatable. Lifestyle, dietary, and skincare changes are some of the factors that go into restoring dehydrated skin. What you take in internally, put on your skin externally, and overall how you treat your skin are controllable factors. However, extrinsic factors like changes in weather as we transition through different seasons are inevitable. That is why dry skin is more common in the winter since there is low humidity in the air and thus more water loss on the skin.

Lifestyle Changes

#1 Avoid using hot water on your skin since it can further strip your already thirsty skin of its natural protective oils that block water vaporization.

#2 Environmental factors are nearly impossible to change. So this next tip may be unavoidable for some of you, especially if you have an office job or are going through extreme weather– super hot and super cold and windy climates. That is, limit the amount of time you're in air-conditioned rooms. Air conditioning draws moisture away from the air and, unfortunately, your skin too.

Dietary Changes

You may be thinking that I'm about to advise you to drink gallons of water now. However, the fact of the matter is that it is not as significant to replenishing dehydrated skin as you may think. When we drink water its first responsibility is to flush out wastes from the body prior to reaching the top layers of the skin. Still, it doesn't hurt to stay hydrated and eat water-rich foods. Water and coconut water are your best friends, whereas diuretics like caffeine and alcohol, which draw out water from the body, are a no-go. It's also beneficial to consume water-rich fruits and vegetables

Such foods include:

➣ watermelon

➣ strawberries

➣ cantaloupe

➣ tomatoes

➣ cucumber

➣ lettuce

➣ bell peppers

➣ celery

Skincare Changes

#1 Avoid harsh cleansers

Problem: Harsh cleansers, astringents, and hot water all cause damage to our stratum corneum because they weaken lipids in the skin barrier. Lipids are integral to the skin barrier composition since they fill in the spaces between the skin cells (as shown below). Thus, the fewer lipids your skin has, the easier it is for moisture to escape through the larger gaps between the skin cells. Not only that, harsh cleansers strip the skin of its natural oils, sebum, which means your skin is more prone to TEWL since there isn't enough sebum to create a barrier over the skin's surface to prevent water loss. Moreover, anything with alcohol, fragrance, essential oils, and other irritating skin ingredients is a huge NO because they further aggravate a compromised skin barrier.

The skin's composition of lipids and skin cells


Taken from HealthPost


Solution: Switch to a gentle cleanser that has a balanced pH. The pH level of skincare products is essential to maintaining healthy skin. In fact, a high skin pH level leads to a stripped acid mantle. Our acid mantle is a thin film of sebum on the SC which behaves like a natural occlusive that retains the skin's hydration and protects the skin from bacteria and impurities. A stripped acid mantle leads to a compromised skin barrier, and consequently water loss from the skin. Our "SC [strateum corneum] pH develops its “sweet spot” for optimal physiological and homeostatic function and integrity, which is an acidic pH commonly referred to as the “acid mantle” of the skin." This acidic pH is around 4.7 to 5.75. Even so, limit the number of times you wash your face to a maximum of twice a day, and remember to rinse using cool to lukewarm water.

#2 Temporarily halt exfoliation

Problem: Overuse and misuse of active ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, BHAs, and retinol, and especially chemical peels "cause or exacerbate damage to the SC permeability barrier." Some are hesitant to stop exfoliation in fear of more breakouts. However, dehydrated skin can actually contribute to acne–the lower the skin's moisture levels are the more oil it produces = more breakouts. So it's counterintuitive to be chemically exfoliating because it inhibits the restoration of dehydrated skin thus perpetuating acne breakouts. However, AHAs such as lactic acid–the most hydrating AHA–which is a humectant (more on that later) are beneficial for dehydrated skin since they work on the skin's surface to remove dead skin cells allowing the skin to better absorb hydrating products. Furthermore, AHAs are hydrophilic or water-loving so they bind moisture into the skin. They're also much gentler than BHAs since they don't penetrate the skin as deeply. In fact, lactic acid or lactate is one of the factors that form the skin's NMF (natural moisturizing factor). Here's a quote from NCBI "Lactic acid also forms part of the NMF, and together with nicotinamide have been shown to promote ceramide biosynthesis and thus strengthen the skin barrier." The skin's NMF found within skin cells keeps them moist by attracting water to the skin.


The skin's natural moisturizing factor

Taken from Botaneri


Solution: Though it's advised to give your skin a break from any chemical or physical exfoliation to speed up the healing of dehydrated skin, if you feel that your skin can tolerate it try out lactic acid. It's a great chemical exfoliate for dry and sensitive skin types that simultaneously exfoliates and hydrates the skin since it restores moisture to the skin and increases moisture retention.

#3 Layer moisturizing products

Problem: When treating dehydrated skin, it's vital to use a wide array of moisturizing products that hydrate, moisturize, and protect the skin. People tend to overlook or purposefully dismiss one or the other according to their skin type. For example, oily skin folks tend to solely use light humectants (explained more in-depth soon) such as pure aloe vera gel and avoid other moisturizing properties in fear that it'll make them breakout. However, a healthy skin barrier needs to balance hydration and moisture levels which only comes from using a combination of moisturizers; we'll discuss the different kinds below.

Solution: The key to layering products is applying them in the correct order. The best practice is to apply products going from thinnest to thickest in terms of consistency. There are three types of moisturizers– humectants (water-based), emollients (oil-based), and occlusives. Humectants draw water molecules from the air and underneath layers of the skin to hydrate inside the skin cells and on the skin's surface. Common ingredients that behave as humectants include hyaluronic acid, sodium PCA, lactic acid, urea, glycerin, aloe vera, allantoin, glycerol, and panthenol. A high concentration of these ingredients can be found in light skincare products such as essences, toners, serums, and gels which are applied first to the skin.

Viscous products include emollients and occlusives (e.g., petroleum, jelly, beeswax, silicones), which create a seal over the skin's surface to lock in any hydration from escaping. Common ingredients that behave as emollients include facial butters and oils. It's important to use facial butters and oils that are rich in fatty acids and amino acids, both of which make up the skin's lipids and NMF. Ceramides are another amazing moisturizing factor. They're fatty acids naturally found in the skin's lipids. In fact, the stratum corneum is composed of 50% ceramides! Sadly, as we age our skin loses its natural ceramides which is why it's added to skincare products (such as the brand CeraVe). Ever wondered why a baby's skin is so darn smooth? That's because at birth, babies have a coating on their skin called "vernix caseosas, and it is composed, primarily, of ceramides." Occlusives are applied last to the skin following emollients aren't recommended for oily acne-prone skin since they are very thick and heavy leading to a likely hood of congested skin. Conveniently, humectants, emollients, and occlusives are commonly combined in gels, lotions, emulsions, and creams. Therefore, it's imperative to look out for the best moisturizer that contains multiple ingredients from the different types of moisturizers for optimal benefits.

Product Suggestions

Now, you may be wondering what are the best affordable products I can use to get rid of this horrid skin condition. Compiled below are the most suitable products to combat dehydrated skin from our product line.

Cleansers– Our hammam soap, AKA eucalyptus black soap helps fight against redness, acne, eczema, and irritation while softening the skin at the same time. This is because our eucalyptus black soap is infused with moisturizing olive oil and oil from organic eucalyptus leaf.

Hydrators– This step is essential in your routine so you want to ensure you're using the most high-quality hydrating products out there because this is what your dehydrated skin needs the most. We can't recommend enough our rose water and orange blossom waters. Our Sublim O Rose Water is sourced from the Dadés Valley, Morocco home to the valley of roses. Our rose water is packed with micro-nutrients. It's of superior quality and 100% concentrated with absolutely no additives. We use fresh Rose Damascenas, which go through an artisanal distillation process that creates the purest rosewater that is concentrated in healing properties. All of our products are made fresh and thus are preservative-free and safe for all in the family to use even babies. Likewise, our 100% pure orange blossom water is perfect for softening and smoothing out the skin as well. Not only that it removes dead skin cells aiding your skin to better absorb moisturizing products. 

Moisturizers– No other oil beats our prickly pear seed oil. It's the rarest oil on this planet and is rich in vitamin K, omega–essential fatty acids, amino acids, antioxidants, and happens to be the oil highest in Vitamin E. Vitamin E behaves as a seal to trap in hydration and smooth out rough skin. It's also a high linoleic acid oil and phytosterols both of which have been shown to help the skin retain moisture and inhibiting TEWL. 

Sources:,What%20is%20skin's%20pH%3F,natural%20pH%20is%20mildly%20acidic. Ceramides:

← Older Post Newer Post →