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How to Fix Dehydrated, Dry Skin Like an Esthetician

Winter brings harsher winds and dry air and suddenly, your once-dewy skin can feel tight, flaky, and rough. We know—it can be really frustrating! Luckily, getting smart with your skincare routine can save the day. One common skincare mistake we see is that people experience tightness in the winter and see it as a sign that they need more oil in their routine. In fact, your skin might be getting dehydrated instead, as in, it’s lacking water, not necessarily oil. And yes, there’s a difference!

How to know whether your skin is dry or dehydrated

Dry skin is a skin type and means that your skin lacks oil. This often means that you have fewer oil glands or that your glands produce less sebum (which also happens as we age). Flakiness, sensitivity, and scaliness are often signs of dry skin, and your skin is likely dry all over your body. Dry skin types are also more prone to skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis. 

Dehydrated skin, on the other hand, is a condition, and any skin type can have dehydrated skin, especially when your environment gets drier. When your skin is dehydrated, it is more likely to show visible signs of aging like wrinkles and fine lines and can feel tight. Your skin will often look duller and flatter as well, since it does not have enough water to look plump and healthy. The great news is, dehydrated skin can bounce back easily—it just takes the right routine.

What to do about dehydrated skin

Dehydrated skin lacks water, so you can have both oily and dehydrated skin. You may be slathering on all the creams and oils in your cabinet, but if there isn’t enough water in your skin, your skin will continue to feel tight, especially around the mouth or eyes. This is one of the reasons we’re not fans of the face oil-only trend. 

For dehydrated skin, layering and timing is key! Start by washing your face with a gentle sulfate-free cleanser. This is very, very important, since stripping soaps can disrupt your skin’s protective barrier and the production of natural moisturizing factors (NMFs) that help our skin retain hydration. 

Next, before your skin has a chance to completely dry, incorporate in a hydrating toner or mist before layering on your thicker products. Your product should include humectants, water-binding ingredients like hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, or glycerin. Adding an extra water-based layer underneath your moisturizer or face oil will help trap in much-needed moisture and as a bonus, will help your other products better penetrate the skin.

The LotuSculpt Activator is an excellent hydrating essence that’s packed with hyaluronic acid and hydrating botanicals as well as firming peptides. This is what we use at the end of every facial as a mist to hydrate and plump the skin. For those struggling with breakouts or rosacea, the Absolute Purity Toner contains lavender hydrosol and olive leaf extract that will hydrate skin, while also soothing redness and targeting uneven skin tone.

Next, while your skin is still damp, move onto a serum or moisturizer with both humectants and natural emollients—ie, ingredients that soften skin and lock in moisture. For a dewy finish, we recommend the Firming Serum, which includes squalane and honey that are excellent emollients (as well as hyaluronic acid!). If you tend to have oilier skin, go straight to the Face Resculpting Cream, which locks in moisture with lightweight botanical oils. It also contains ceramides and other nourishing ingredients that help bolster your skin’s defenses. Winter’s got no chance!

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