Dry Skin:

Misconception: Keeping your skin wet with water will rehydrate and moisturize your skin.

Fact: Water is dehydrating to the skin due to the process of “reverse osmosis”. Rather than drawing the moisture in, water left on your skin after a shower, washing your hands or having a swim pulls the moisture out of your skin (more on dehydration vs. dryness in the link below). Saliva, on the other hand, is known to damage your skin due to the enzymes designed to break down your food. Unfortunately, those same enzymes will break down the vulnerable skin around your lips and finger nails.

Dehydration vs. Dryness

Before we get into some of the things you can do to prevent dry skin, let’s look at the main differences between dehydration and dryness that you need to know about.

Dehydration is caused by a lack of water in your skin cells, whereas dryness is caused by a lack of oils.

I’m sure you can think of a time when you were well hydrated, but after washing your face your skin was dry – that dryness is caused by a lack of oils (because you just washed it all off!)

On the other hand, you may have experienced skin that was dry and flaky, yet very oily at the same time. This is typically a sign of dehydration.

Dryness is commonly treated by applying a high quality moisturizer or oil. A good moisturizer contains healthy oils that protect your skin while replenishing your natural oil levels.  

Dehydration is a little trickier. Mainly because most moisturizers are oil based, and the oil molecules are too large to penetrate through your skin. Oil based products will coat the skin and lock-in what moisture you do have, but will not add moisture and rehydrate the skin cells. Instead, you need a moisturizer that has small enough molecules to penetrate into the skin to add water.

You see, your body produces oil called sebum to lubricate your skin and hair in all areas of your body except for the palms and soles of your feet. Your body needs sweat glands on the bottom of the feet but no oil glands. Any dry skin located here is most often a result of dehydration (a lack of water in your skin cells).

So, besides the obvious advice of drinking lots of water to keep your skin well hydrated, I want to share with you a less known piece of advice:

Always dry your hands and feet thoroughly after you get them wet. Common sense dictates that a dry body would gain moisture if it was wet – but it does just the opposite.

Let me illustrate…

Washing your hands and body removes the natural oils (especially when using soap), which WILL NOT be added back from any water left on the skin. That’s why your body feels dry after you wash it (that’s the dryness we talked about).

So what about dehydration? Isn’t it caused by a lack of water in your skin cells?

It certainly is, but due to a scientific process called “Reverse Osmosis,” the pressure in your body forces water to travel through your skin to join the water on the outside. The same process is commonly used to desalinate seawater.

To help you visualize, imagine a regular cup from your kitchen with a vertical sheet of skin splitting the cup into a left half and a right half.

In the left half, you fill the cup half way with salt water. In the right half, you fill the cup half way with regular water.

If you then applied enough pressure on the salt water side, the water molecules (but not the salt) are forced through the skin towards the regular water.

The same process occurs on your skin, with your body providing the internal pressure to force water through your skin towards the water on the outside.

I’m sure you’ve noticed feeling dehydrated after a day at the pool or lake? Besides lying in the sun, the water you swim in is slowly dehydrating your skin.

Of course, this is not a warning to never get wet! It’s merely to show you the power of keeping your body dry to retain moisture!

Sometimes the best fix for dehydrated and dry feet is getting ahead of the game with a Pedicure to tidy up your cuticles and remove unwanted calluses so your moisturizer can penetrate more easily. A foot scrub removes any excess dry skin on the feet and legs, which is removed with hot towels. Ending off with a foot and leg massage encourages circulation and rehydrates the skin for healthy, pain-free feet.

For hands, one of the greatest challenges I see people struggle with is picking or biting at dry skin and cuticles. A cuticle oil or cream is your best bet to properly hydrate your cuticles. Come in for a Deluxe Manicure or an Ultimate Manicure and I will work on the cuticles and remove the dead/dry cuticles, and hydrate them with a moisturizing massage.