Educational Series: Understanding Dry vs. Dehydrated Skin in Skincare 

by | 1 July 2024

In the world of skincare, the terms “dry” and “dehydrated” are often used interchangeably, but they represent distinct conditions that require different approaches for effective treatment. Let’s delve into their differences and how to address each effectively.

Dry Skin: Beyond Surface Symptoms

Dry skin, commonly known as lipid-dry skin, is defined by insufficient oil and water secretion from different skin components, including the cell membranes of epidermal keratinocytes, dermal sebaceous glands, and sweat glands. This condition not only causes visible dryness but also compromises the skin’s ability to retain moisture and protect itself from external stressors.

Importance of Skin’s Lipid Phases

At the core of dry skin lies the impairment of its lipid phases. These phases include essential components like ceramides, cholesterol, free fatty acids, and phospholipids. They form a crucial barrier that reduces trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL) by slowing down water evaporation from the skin’s surface.

Role of Essential Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids, such as omega-3, play a vital role in maintaining cell membrane integrity and overall skin health. They contribute to repairing the skin’s lipid phases, thereby reducing TEWL and enhancing hydration levels. Using skincare products rich in essential fatty acids can replenish the skin’s natural lipids and strengthen its protective barrier.

Managing Lipid-Dry Skin

Lipid-dry skin is an intrinsic skin type characterised by insufficient oil and water secretion. Managing this skin type involves using topical treatments and nutritional support. Since this skin type is inherent, it can only be managed, not permanently cured.

Internal supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids, such as SIMKA Alpha Omega-3, can support cell membrane health and repair the lipid phases of the skin, providing comprehensive benefits for skin hydration and protection.

Dehydrated Skin: Impact of Impaired Enzyme Activity 

Dehydrated skin experiences high trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL) due to compromised barrier function and impaired enzyme activity.

Did you know that calcium serves as a vital process in the construction of the skin’s protective barrier and is required for skin cell hydration? Yes! 

Once filaggrin fulfils its role in creating the skin barrier, it undergoes enzymatic metabolism to produce NMF—a vital component for skin barrier hydration, protection, and defence. However, in the case of “dehydrated skin,” impaired enzyme activity hinders the formation of both the CCE and NMF, disrupting the skin’s natural lipid balance and defensive mechanisms. Therefore, maintaining optimal levels of intracellular calcium is essential for sustaining the skin’s resilience and minimising water loss, ensuring its overall health and vitality.

To simplify, here’s the pathway to healthy, hydrated skin:

  1. Profilaggrin: An insoluble protein precursor found in epidermal keratinocytes is necessary for skin barrier formation and is dependent on calcium for its function. 
  2. FilaggrinThe active form of profilaggrin that binds to keratin within skin cells, initiating the creation of the cornified cell envelope (CCE) and Natural Moisturising Factor (NMF). 
  3. Cornified Cell Envelope (CCE): A protective barrier of corneocytes (transformed and matured keratinocytes) is formed by filaggrin binding with keratin, which is crucial for maintaining skin integrity and hydration levels. 
  4. Natural Moisturising Factor (NMF): Produced by the enzymatic metabolism of filaggrin, NMF is essential for skin hydration and defence.

Key Takeaways for Skincare Management

In summary, understanding and supporting the skin’s lipid phases is key to addressing the root causes of skin concerns and maintaining a healthy barrier. While lipid-dry and dehydrated skin require a multifaceted approach, it’s important to note that dehydrated skin or impaired enzyme activity is a condition that can be improved with proper care and isn’t necessarily permanent. 

Here are our top tips for managing dry and dehydrated skin through barrier repair, hydration, and nutritional support.

  • Distinguish Between Dry and Dehydrated Skin: Understand the underlying mechanisms of impaired enzyme activity, intracellular calcium levels, and essential fatty acids to differentiate between these conditions accurately.
  • Focus on Barrier Repair: Prioritise skincare products rich in essential fatty acids and ingredients that support barrier function to strengthen the skin’s natural defence mechanisms.
  • Maintain Intracellular Calcium Levels: Incorporate dietary sources that help maintain optimal levels of intracellular calcium to promote healthy skin barrier function.
  • Hydrate and Nourish: Choose hydrating formulations that mimic the skin’s natural composition and function to replenish moisture and support enzyme activity.
  • Internal Supplementation of Omega-3: Consider incorporating omega-3 supplements like SIMKA Alpha Omega-3 into your routine. Omega-3s play a crucial role in cell membrane health and in repairing the lipid phases of the skin, thereby reducing trans-epidermal water loss and enhancing overall skin barrier integrity.

Top Active Concentrates from dermaviduals

  1. EGCG LiposomesThis formulation supports filaggrin formation, crucial for creating the cornified cell envelope (CCE) and supporting Natural Moisturising Factor (NMF). Additionally, it contains Grape Seed Extract, enhancing its antioxidant and barrier-strengthening properties.
  2. Liposome NMF Complex Plus: Mimicking the skin’s own NMF, this complex is vital for hydration, antioxidant protection, and supporting enzyme activity.
  3. Phosphatidylserine Nanoparticles: A physiological phospholipid molecule, phosphatidylserine, is essential for skin cell membrane integrity, as it protects against lipid peroxidation and supports the skin’s immune system. This formulation further contains phosphatidylcholine, another important phospholipid molecule, aiding in replenishing and protecting skin lipids.
  4. Kiwi Seed Oil Nanoparticles: With a high omega-3 content (61%), it promotes cell membrane health, reduces trans-epidermal water loss, and repairs the lipid phases of the skin.
  5. Avocado Oil: Rich in phytosterols that mimic skin barrier cholesterol content, it reinforces protective functions, reduces trans-epidermal water loss, and repairs skin lipid phases through its unique chemical composition and antioxidants.

In summary, these concentrates offer targeted solutions to address specific concerns, aiding in the restoration and maintenance of a healthy and resilient skin barrier.

Visit our clinic finder and speak with a Skin Treatment Therapist today to find the right solution for your skincare needs. 

Written by Kai Atkinson