Skin Health 101
Unsure of your skin type? Wondering what is an exfoliant and why do you need one? Curious about an ingredient? Does skincare confuse you? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this page is the one for you!
Welcome to Nia Imani,
As many of you know, I am a licensed and practicing esthetician. My goal as an esthetician is to provide my clients with the tools they need to support the treatment. I believe the most valuable tool they need is skin knowledge– skin health knowledge that is.
I want my clients to understand what effects of ingredients, skincare tools, and more. My goal is to arm them with the knowledge to protect their skin’s health. I feel that arming them with skin health knowledge will empower them to make good skin care choices even when I am not around or available to provide guidance.
I want to use that same philosophy here on Nia Imani. I believe all people, not just my clients should have access to information pertaining to skin health. I wanted to share my passion for skin health and skincare competency. I believe skin should be taken care of and maintained like all other organs. As a licensed professional and skin care enthusiast I have a fantastic opportunity to share the knowledge, tips, and tricks that I have acquired with everyone (not just my clients). So, with that welcome to skin health 101.
Skin Health 101 is a series of skin care related posts; this series is about all the various kinds of skin care tidbits that only licensed professionals and skin care enthusiast know. This series is for anyone who has been in a skin care runt, or need help navigating skin care, or just want to know more about skin care. I will be breaking down everything from ingredients to hot tips and more! Awesome, right?
Ok, today’s 101 is going to cover dry and dehydrated skin. So, without further ado let’s jump into it!
All skin types need to retain a proper amount of hydration and moisture to perform well. Skin conditions like acne, sensitivity, and premature aging can be caused by inadequate hydration and moisture. Loss of moisture and hydration in the skin are extremely common. The problem is, most people just don’t know how to properly keep their skin hydrated and moisturized. In addition, it is clear most people are confused and unsure of the methodology behind serums, moisturizers and facial oils; this seems to be most confusing for people who feel their skin is extremely oily prior to serums, moisturizers and facial oils. So, let's break it down.
“To hydrate or to moisturize”, that is the question; no really, that is truly what it boils down to. Confused? I thought so… Allowed me to elaborate. The difference between hydration and moisture is as simple as water and oil. Hydration is measured in water and moisture is measured in oil. Still confused? No worries let me give you an example; if someone lacks hydration, they lack water and/or water binding properties. Therefore, they would be considered dehydrated; I.E. lacks hydration. The opposite would be said for lack of moisture.
Now that you understand the basic difference between dehydration and dryness you have another question; you’re more than likely wondering how you can tell if you lack water or lacking moisture. Let’s first give a more depth look at dehydration.
To start let me share a fun fact you. 75 percent of Americans are dehydrated; according to United States Census Bureau as of 2017, there are 325,145,963 American citizens so that would mean, 243,859,472 American citizens are constantly living in a state of dehydration. If that is the case in America, imagine how many people are dehydrated worldwide. Crazy right?
Internally, dehydration manifests when someone doesn’t drink enough water; water keeps the organs functioning, flushes the system of toxins, and speeds up the metabolism. However, water that is ingested does not hydrate the skin. When ingested water first goes through the digestive tract, then excretory organs, and finally is absorbed into muscles, the bloodstream and organs. Whatever is left is then transported to the skin. The minuscule amount of water left is absorbed into the dermis– more specifically reticular dermis. As we know, there is another layer of skin called the epidermis. Most of the epidermis is dead skin; only about two to three of the epidermal layers having skin cells. That coupled with body being greedy with water distribution makes it impossible for the skin to be hydrated from ingested water.
That begs the question. How does the skin get hydrated and stay hydrated? Water can be absorbed into the skin by hydrating ingredients that bind and pull hydration to the skin. Humectant ingredients like aloe, hyaluronic acid, watermelon, honey, butylene glycol, sorbitol, and glycerin, pull water from the environment around it. These ingredients also bind hydration to the skin thus keeping it hydrated.
The only time water-based or water binding hydrators can’t provide the skin with enough to stay hydrated is when Transepidermal Water Loss is in play. Transepidermal Water Loss also known as TEWL is the most common cause of dehydration. TEWL is the loss of water from the dermis through the epidermis. The water passes from the dermis to the epidermis and then evaporates from the surface of the skin. This occurs when the Lipid Barrier has been damaged. The lipid barrier is then invisible oil layer that creates a barrier between our skin and the environment around us. When the lipid barrier is damaged and water loss is that an all time high the skin may experience any of the following characteristics:
• Loss of Elasticity
• Dry Patches
• Inflamed or visibly irritated
• Extreme areas of oiliness
• A mixture of extreme oiliness and dry patches at the same time
My recommendation for avoiding TEWL and/or treating TEWL is to couple hydrators either occlusive ingredients. Try products with ingredients like dimethicone, squalene, lanolin acid, candelilla, beeswax or lecithin. For example, Dermalogica’s Barrier Repair which has dimethicone.
Now, it is important to know that all skin types can be affected by dehydration and TEWL, but not all skin types can be affected by moisture deficiency. Like I said earlier, moisture is equated to oil. Oil is something we are born with. Dry skin can be confused with dehydrated skin due to similarities in the characteristics. Like dehydrated skin dry skin can result in sensitivity, tightness or flakiness. However, dry skin possesses unique characteristics such as little to no acne and barely visible pores. Additionally, oil deficient skin is perpetually oil deficient. Dry skin never feels oily. It is a part of the genetic oil deficiency. The only people who can become lipid deficient are people quite far along in the aging process.
Due to the lack of naturally occurring lipids dry skin ages faster than other skin types. To quell dryness and slow the aging process dry skin must use lipid rich and fatty acid dense ingredients such as omega three, six, and/or nine oils, avocado oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil, monoi oil and sweet almond oil.
Exfoliation is also extremely important for dry skin; scrub is okay, but enzyme and/or acid exfoliation is the most effective way to treat dry skin. Enzymes act like tiny PAC men; they eat away at dead surface skin cells. Although enzymes work on mostly surface skin cell they do remove more surface skin cells at one time than scrub. Acids are the best way to quell dry skin concerns. Acids eat away at intercellular glue, speed up the skin’s metabolism, and allows for deeper penetration of serums and moisturizers. A few perfect acids for dry skin are glycolic and lactic acids. Glycolic is most hydrating and exfoliating and lactic brightens, hydrates, and exfoliates. Glycolic is also more active than lactic and more reactive than lactic. My suggestion is beginners should either use an extremely buffered glycolic acid or a lactic acid product.
Hydrators are important for dry skin as well. Hydrators will plump dry skin and promote accelerated collagen production. While oilier skin types will use moisturizers and serums that are predominantly if not all hydrators drier skin types will use either hydrator-based serums or hybrid products. Hybrids are hydrators coupled with oils and/or emollients.
There you have it– the difference between dryness and dehydration. I know that was a lot of information. I hope this helped anyone who has been struggling to recognize the differences. Of course, you can always email me at email@example.com if you have more questions. I am always open to clarify or broaden your knowledge.
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Want to read more? Check out all the Skin Health 101 posts!