Skin Conditions: Demystifying Dehydration & Sensitivity

If you’ve already read my post about skin types, you should already know whether you’re dry, normal, oily or combination.

But there’s another factor that impacts how your skin behaves and the routine you should use. Let’s talk about skin conditions.

What are skin conditions?

Think of a skin condition as a temporary state or issue your skin is experiencing at a certain time, on top of your regular skin type.

If your skin often feels intensely parched and flaky, or sometimes produces a lot of excess oil, you could be experiencing dehydration. Dehydration makes fine lines more pronounced, and your skin will not feel smooth or supple.

If your skin also stings or has blotchy patches or diffuse redness, it may be sensitised.

These are all skin conditions, which are temporary skin concerns that are treatable.

Recognising dehydrated skin

Dehydrated skin lacks water (as opposed to dry skin which lacks oil, remember?). It gets confusing because the dry skin type and dehydrated skin condition co-exist a lot of the time. This is because it’s the job of our skin’s natural oils and other natural moisturising factors that live between our skin cells to trap water deep in the skin. For those with dry skin and less of these oils to lock in the water, the skin is far more prone to losing this moisture to evaporation. These people might suffer from eczema and dermatitis, rough, peeling and cracking skin, and a tight burning sensation, especially in the winter months. 

However many people, myself included, experience dehydration as overly oily skin. When I suffered from this, my skin felt rough, tight and dry but illogically would get greasy really quickly. Once I started to treat my skin with moisture and gentle care instead of stripping it dry, the oil production quickly settled down. I now have a far more balanced skin type.

I believe many people are also experiencing a dehydrated skin condition and mistaking it for a very oily skin type. Do you see excess oil during the day, but have a rough or irritated skin texture and it seems that light moisturisers and foaming or gel cleansers are only making your skin feel drier and look shinier faster? Consider going against your instincts and treating your skin for dehydration.

Identifying sensitive skin

Sensitive skin (apart from actual allergies) is often very dehydrated skin, rather than a skin type in its own right. Such sensitivity is caused by long-term dehydration from improper, harsh skin care. This can include habits like over-cleansing and using products containing irritating plant extracts or alcohol.

Repeated irritation and dehydration in this way can sensitise the skin to the most bland moisturisers – even plain water! Are you are using bar soap or body wash on your face, washing more than twice daily, using hot shower water, or not using a moisturiser? If so, and you believe that your skin is ‘sensitive’, it could be that it just needs to be treated with a little more care.

Let’s recap

If you feel like your skin has issues beyond skin type, like rough texture or irritation, you might suffer from a skin condition. 

The two most common skin conditions are dehydrated and sensitive skin, both of which can be caused by harsh treatment (such as using products like baking soda), irritating ingredients and improper moisturisation.

To learn how to change your routine to fix dehydration and sensitivity, read my guide to tackling these stubborn skin conditions here.

I hope you learnt something new about the real causes of troublesome ‘skin types’. If you’re hungry for more, you can also check out everything you need to know to build a skin care routine here.