Dry or Dehydrated?
The more you dig into the science behind skin types, the more you’ll find yourself questioning everything you thought you knew…. And dry skin especially challenges the idea that skin type is separate from skin condition.
The History of Skin Types
Skin types were invented by cosmetics magnate Helena Rubenstein at the start of the 20th century and have had a profound impact on the industry. Skin types became invaluable in developing and marketing cosmetics to the consumer - you take a quiz and then you’re told what to buy. But research into skin types would later challenge the original concept of skin types entirely.
The Science Behind Dry Skin
Dry skin isn’t necessarily something you’re born with; it can have environmental causes like low humidity, over cleansing, and the weather. If the lipids in our skin barrier are depleted, it can’t work properly and will hold less moisture. This means the little enzymes that break down the “glue” between dead skin cells can’t do their job, causing flaky skin.
Dry skin is different from dehydrated skin. Unlike typical dehydration, where your body is low on water, skin dehydration comes from a damaged moisture barrier. When that barrier is damaged, it can lead to extreme sensitivity, simultaneously oily and flaky skin, and breakouts.
Dehydration is one of the primary characteristics of dry skin but can you be dehydrated without having dry skin? Yes! While flaky skin in both dry and dehydrated skin is caused by the same thing (lack of moisture in the skin), it’s very common to experience skin dehydration while having oily or normal skin. Fortunately, dehydrated skin can be corrected by focusing on your moisture barrier health, which will resolve the flakiness, sensitivity, and breakouts associated with dehydration.
Fun fact: measuring water loss from the skin is how we can assess if the skin barrier is healthy