Is your skin dry or just dehydrated? While these words are often used interchangeably, they are actually very different, and their causes and remedies vary, too.
If you have a dry skin type—as opposed to oily—symptoms like roughness, cracking, and itching tend to be year-round. Dry skin is generally lacking in oils, and while it can be exacerbated by factors like changes in the weather, the environment isn't the sole cause.
Dehydrated skin, on the other hand, describes a lack of water in your skin. If you only experience dry skin when the weather gets cold or just once in a while, rather than all year long, dehydrated skin may be the culprit, not your underlying skin type.
How to Prevent Dehydrated Skin
No matter your skin type, there's one thing you can do to keep it hydrated any time of year: drink water. Because dry skin is a symptom of dehydration, getting enough daily fluids will help minimize the effects of skin dryness as well as more serious problems. Everyone's water intake goals can vary, so a good rule of thumb is to aim for clear urine, suggests Cleveland Clinic.
Aside from your fluid intake, outside factors like the bitter air in the winter combined with the drying indoor heat and steaming hot showers can also cause skin to lose moisture. So, while avoiding dry air may help fend off dehydration, the best thing you can do is rehydrate your skin. Humidifiers, hand lotions, and facial moisturizers are must-haves to restore and lock in skin moisture.
How to Treat Dehydrated Skin
If dehydration persists despite your best efforts at prevention, it may be time to call in reinforcements: amino acids. Ingredients like taurine, arginine, and glycine can help accelerate skin cell metabolism and jump-start collagen production to firm up and moisturize skin dryness. Find all three amino acids in EltaMD's Skin Recovery System, which contains a combo kit of toner, serum, and moisturizer.
Some people with extremely dehydrated skin may need a prescription ointment or cream. If your skin dryness has become particularly problematic during the winter months or other seasonal changes, check with a board-certified Dermatologist to learn what medications may be best for you.
Loving Your Skin, All Year Round
To maintain healthy, glowing skin all year long, you should implement a consistent and balanced skin care routine. Start simple—with just a cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen—and track how your skin reacts to different products as the seasons change. If you're still experiencing dry skin after following these tips, consult a Dermatologist who can help you get to the bottom of the issue.
And remember: don't give up! After all, it's your skin—and hot or cold, it deserves to be loved year-round.