A Holistic Approach to Dry & Dehydrated Skin
There is a significant difference between dryness and dehydration, despite the fact that these two words are typically used interchangeably. Rarely discussed and rarely delineated, many people believe their skin is dry, when really it is just dehydrated. This misunderstanding is why so many people struggle with feeling that no matter what they put on their skin, it never feels properly moisturized. True hydration is often the missing link in skin that feels dry or depleted.
The difference is simple. Dry skin is lipid-deficient. Dehydrated skin is water-deficient. This is one of the core reasons why oil serums and hydrosols are so foundational for truly all skin. Not only do they support the skin’s natural barrier function, but they provide the necessary lipids and hydration the skin needs.
“our favorite solution for dehydration is the frequent saturation of the skin with pure plant HydroSouls”
Because of the general lack of consideration of skin hydration, along with a skin care industry with little regard for the skin’s innate barrier function — dehydration is a rampant issue across all skin types, states and conditions. It is the most common skin imbalance in the modern age, and in many cases, people misidentify their skin as dry, when really the issue is dehydration.
If you have dehydrated skin, packing on lipids via moisturizers, lotions, or even oils by themselves, will not solve the issue. In order to remedy dehydration you need to hydrate the skin, which can only be done with water, plant waters, or water-based preparations, like HydroSouls or aloe vera.
To better understand the origins of both dry and dehydrated skin, as well as our favorite methods and rituals to care for both, read on.
The emotional elements that can contribute to chronically dry and dehydrated skin center around the sensation of being metaphorically wrung dry. Being emotionally depleted, or spread too thin with nothing left to give, or sometimes even being ‘stuck’ in a particular emotional state. There might be some confusion and uncertainty, or a sense of not knowing how to proceed and make changes.
Taking time for self care, taking time to fill your well, and taking time to find clarity around the places you might be ‘stuck’ can be completely transformative for dry and dehydrated skin.
We use flower essences in our formulas to help support emotional balance, growth and well-being. A custom blend of flower essences crafted in a collaboration by Evan and flower essence practitioner Alexis Smart is used in nearly all of our emulsion products. The Rose “personality” blend was designed to support balance, remove confusion, and bring back the skin’s wisdom and intuition to help move through emotional blockages and can be found in our Rose Cleansing Milk and our Rose Vetiver Moisturizer.
Caring for Dry + Dehydrated Skin
A variety of factors can cause dryness and dehydration within the skin. It can be the dry nature of your environment, the changing of seasons, hormonal fluctuations, stress, internal dryness/dehydration, or a compromised hydrolipid barrier.
While there are slight variations in how to ideally care for dry skin vs. dehydrated skin, the foundational approach is the same.
This is how we address both dryness and dehydration, topically.
- Create authentic moisture/hydration levels by supporting the hydrolipid barrier with daily application of Oil Serum and HydroSoul.
- Seal in that moisture/hydration with a protective layer containing ingredients like shea butter, beeswax, cocoa butter, etc.,
- Avoid harsh treatments that disrupt barrier function, like acids, enzymes, exfoliants, retinol, harsh cleansers, chlorinated water, etc.,
Below, we break down the small variations on how to care for both dry skin, and dehydrated skin.
Caring for Dry Skin
To help address dry skin internally, it is key that you’re getting proper EFAs (essential fatty acids), and healthy fats in your diet. Some of our favorite sources of nourishing dietary fats are: avocado (both the fruit and the oil), grass-fed butter and/or ghee, coconut oil, olive oil, fatty fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel, etc), organ meats, and organic seeds like pumpkin, sesame, flax, and chia.*
For dry skin, you may want to use a richer and more protective oil, like Sanctuary Nectar Serum or Pomegranate Vitality Serum, the two most comforting and nourishing of our Oil Serums. Argan Intensive Serum is another excellent choice for dry skin since it is abundant in oleic acid (omega-9), the essential fatty acid studies have shown to be deficient in dry skin. Or sometimes simply choosing the richest of them all — Whipped Shea Butter with Olive Leaf — and using that as your oil serum. Add a pea sized amount to your palm, mist seven or more sprays of HydroSoul, blend the two together in hands and gently massage into skin.
The gentle exfoliation of a twice-monthly clay mask allows the skin to open channels to properly absorb nutrients, moisture and hydration. For its soft, soothing and beautifully refining effects, our favorite clay for dry skin is French Rose Clay.
And finally, our absolute favorite, and probably the most fun and relaxing technique in caring for dry skin, is masking with Whipped Shea Butter. This easy, simple, yet remarkably restorative practice is deeply penetrating, profoundly nourishing, softening, calming and fortifying. Even the most flaky, dry, irritated and unhappy skin becomes calm, soft, luminous and moisturized after this special treatment.
- Massage two fingertips worth of your Whipped Shea Butter of choice into clean skin. You can rest for a moment to let the Whipped Shea cocoon your skin, but it’s not necessary.
- Take a warm, damp washcloth and lay it over your face, pressing into your cheeks, forehead and chin. Remove cloth as it cools down, rewet with hot water, wring it out, and repeat the steaming process as many times as you need to until all the Whipped Shea has absorbed into the skin. This usually requires about 3 - 4 rounds of steaming.
- Once you’ve finished steaming in the Whipped Shea, assess your skin to determine how to finish your ritual. Does your skin want a simple misting of HydroSoul? Does it want a little Oil Serum with the HydroSoul? Does it want a little bit more Whipped Shea as a final seal of moisture? Use your senses and intuition to choose what is right for you in the moment.
If these tips provide no relief, your skin may actually be dehydrated rather than dry. See our protocol for dehydrated skin below for tips on caring for dehydrated skin. And if you’ve tried it all — protocols for dryness, dehydration, along with diet shifts and emotional assessment — and you still haven’t found relief, there might be a deeper cause of this depletion and discomfort. Extreme and chronic dryness/dehydration can be symptoms of a deeper systemic issue like a thyroid imbalance or an autoimmune disorder, so if you find that no topical applications or dietary shifts make the least bit of difference, and that your skin is chronically and painfully dry/dehydrated, you might want to work with a natural health practitioner to help you find the root cause of the symptom.
Caring for Dehydrated SkinSEE FULL COLLECTION
A dominant culprit for dehydration in the skin is transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Simply put, TEWL is the evaporation of water/hydration from the skin. It can be the result of your environment, a compromised hydrolipid barrier, a change in the seasons, etc.,
To address transepidermal water loss, providing water alone is not enough; the skin needs to be able to hold onto it. This is where oils come in. Paired together, in re-creation of the skin’s essential hydrolipid barrier and mimicking the skin’s own moisture/hydration strategy, Oil Serumsand HydroSouls anchor hydration and moisture into the skin unlike anything else.
An important but likely unexpected tip for dehydrated skin: avoid exfoliation. Dead skin cells (corneocytes) are actually essential to the skin’s retention of hydration. When the skin’s protective hydrolipid barrier is intact, its ability to retain hydration is enhanced.
To properly address hydration any water preparation being used needs to be the proper pH for the skin. The skin is naturally slightly acidic, and the products you use on it should reflect that. Our HydroSouls range from 4.5 - 5.5, which is the ideal pH range for the skin.
Tap water should not be used in place of a hydrosol or hydrator, at least not if you’re living in North America. This is not only because it’s an improper pH, but also because the additives put in municipal water — specifically chlorine — damage the skin’s barrier and microbiome. (That being said, make sure you have a shower filter!)
Our favorite tool for hydration — aside from supporting barrier function — is the frequent inclusion of pure plant HydroSouls.
These simple, magical, ancient plant waters provide ideal hydration replenishment, balance the skin’s pH, plump, nourish and tone. HydroSouls contain the water-soluble elements of plants, the cellular water from within the plant, compounds the plant produces to help retain moisture in its own form, antioxidants, and a unique array of different skin balancing and beautifying phytonutrients. HydroSouls are the missing link to authentic hydration.
A Simple Daily Ritual for Dry & Dehydrated Skin
It’s as simple as that. Skin loves HydroSoul. You’ll notice an immediate difference in the tone, suppleness and hydration levels of your skin with the saturate-press-repeat technique, and the effects will last all day when you follow it up with an Oil Serum and Butter or Balm to seal it all in.
Dietarily there are several steps you can take to counteract dehydration in skin. Of course, make sure you’re drinking healthy amounts of pure water. To boost absorption you can add supportive factors like sea salt, lemon, or chia seed. Additionally, make sure you’re getting enough pure, unrefined salt in your diet. Eat foods like cucumber, celery, seaweed, and watermelon when in season. Drink bone broth, which contains whole-form hyaluronic acid, along with an abundance of other skin nourishing nutrients. Or if necessary, you can also supplement with hyaluronic acid, or — our favorite — tremella mushroom.*
*Our dietary & nutritional tips are not regulated by the FDA, and we trust that you will take your own dietary limitations, preferences, allergies, and sensitivities into consideration. Please work with your doctor or nutritionist to discover what’s right for your lifestyle and body.