Your skin is more dehydrated than it looks and feels. Many women who think they have normal or even oily skin think that they don’t need a lot of moisture, and only Google “hydrating moisturizer” when dry flakes or patches appear. But that doesn’t mean your skin isn’t thirsty.
This is what dehydrated skin feels like
For most of us, dehydrated skin first appears as dullness. Light bounces off supple, hydrated skin – think of the smooth, flawless surface of a new balloon. But when skin is deflated, wrinkled, or just not at its best, it shrivels up. Light won’t bounce off this kind of bumpy surface. You’ll lose the glow, and if you don’t do anything about it, you’ll lose a lot more: softness, smoothness, even colour and texture.
Is your foundation looking a little weird? Don’t blame the product, check if your skin is in trouble. It’s harder to blend any makeup into drier skin – it looks fine when you apply it, but then it cakes up and gets splotchy. That’s a sure sign of dehydrated areas, or uneven absorption of cream products. Makeup is supposed to hide the signs of discoloration, but when your favourite makeup doesn’t work, then you know that your skin is sending an SOS.
Skin sensitivity is another sign. Does your toner or face mist suddenly sting when you apply it on your skin? That’s a sign that your skin is dehydrated: the health and moisture barrier are compromised.
What can cause skin dehydration?
Uhm, life?! Hormonal imbalances when you get your period or take a new medicine, stress, lack of sleep, change in diet, or just growing older. Factor in weather and how much time you ‘ve spent outdoors (in the sun) or indoors (in drying airconditioning or in front of UV emitting laptops) and you realize how much your skin really goes through.
Body skin: your first flag
We take good care of our skin, but we often neglect the rest of our body: our hands, skin on our elbows and knees and ankles, and especially our feet. If your cuticles are getting dried up, or your feet and hands are feeling extra rough and scaly, then that’s a good sign that your face is also feeling the loss of hydration. We don’t notice it as quickly because of the creams, but it’s a good way of monitoring our overall hydration levels. Our body doesn’t prioritize our face when it distributes water – so if our hands our dry, our face is dry.
Another good sign: our lips and mouth. Don’t wait till you’re thirsty or when your lips are rough to think, “Am I getting enough fluids?” We always try to fix dry lips with lip balms without thinking that it’s our body’s cry for help. Hydrate, hydrate… hydrate!
So how do you keep hydrated all day?
Never leave home without a mist
A face mist refreshes makeup and restores moisture all throughout the day. Keep one in your bag – and mist, mist, mist whenever you can. You can transfer some of your moisturizing facial toner into a spray bottle, or get a special facial mist. Refrigerating the mist adds extra coolness that can help you feel alive in the middle of the hottest days.
Adjust your bathroom heater
Hot showers are so relaxing, but they can strip your skin of natural oils and weaken your moisture barrier. This barrier balances your skin’s moisture levels, so when it’s damaged, your skin gets dehydrated – even if you don’t really have “dry skin.” Keep your shower heater at lukewarm, or if you take hot showers, limit it to 10 minutes or direct the shower head to your body – never your face.
And always, always apply your skincare right after a bath. The heat opens up your pores, so it’s the best time to pat in that toner and serum, then lock everything in with a mega moisturizing cream.
Rosewater is a cheap, readily available and very moisturizing ingredient. It’s ideal for Singapore climates, too: it never feels sticky and has a refreshing scent and feel. It’s also one of the few ingredients that work on all skin types. Use it to prep your skin for makeup, revitalize makeup, or alleviate the stickiness of sunscreen.
Drink water – all the time
When your body lacks water, it will prioritize all the organs and pull moisture from organs that don’t need it – including the skin. So for skin to stay hydrated, you actually should be drinking more water than you think you need. Drink even when you’re not thirsty, and take a 1:1 approach when drinking diuretics like coffee, iced tea and alcohol: for every glass, down a glass of water.
But remember, water you put into your body won’t immediately go to your face, so topicalhydration is still a necessity! Remember that mist? Drink your glass, spray your mist as often as you can. It should as habitual as breathing.
Eat fatty foods
We don’t mean salted duck egg chips. You need good fats like omega 3 fatty acids, which can come from fatty fish like salmon, avocado, and healthy oils like extra virgin olive oil. Healthy fats help strengthen your cell membranes and improve your skin’s ability to trap moisture.
Pamper your skin after every night out
You deserve a little fun now and then – go out with your friends, enjoy that wine, dance at that club. But just know that both alcohol and lack of sleep can affect your skin, and your kidneys work double time to flush the toxins. Give your body and your face a little extra TLC after every Happy Friday. Since your skin is fighting inflammation, calm it down with a mask. Debloat with a facial massager, or treat yourself to a calming facial. Load up on healthy juices and smoothies and cut down on junk food that can stress out your system. It’s all about balance, so even if it’s 100% okay to have fun, just be extra gentle to yourself (and your skin) the next few days.
Power up your mask
Exfoliate and then apply a serum before putting on any facial mask. Masks work because of occlusion: it seals in ingredients so that they work better. That works both for the ingredients in the mask and any toner or serum you applied beforehand. Exfoliating also gets rid of dead skin cells that can prevent your skin from absorbing any of that anti-ageing goodness.
Rethink your body oils
The best time to apply any body oil is before you step out of your shower. Pat it in, so it locks in any leftover moisture, than pat yourself dry with your towel. You get double the hydration (both from the moisturizer itself and the water from your bath) without the greasy feel.
If you’re using a body lotion, apply right after you pat yourself dry. It also traps in the moisture, and you can pat off any excess without missing out on hydration. For extra dry areas like your hands and feet, do this at night but use an extra-heavy cream – even petroleum jelly – and wear socks or hand gloves. That extra step makes cheap lotion as effective as expensive products.
Maximize your essences
Soak cheap facial pads with essence and cheap aloe vera or bamboo gel and leave it on extra dry parts of your face – usually forehead, nose, chin. This is a great way to use up essence or toner that’s about to expire! You can also use extra virgin oil or coconut oil, with a few drops of tea tree oil, witch hazel, rosewater or any serum you already have.