Dry or dehydrated skin-what's the difference? 

To determine whether your skin is either dry or dehydrated it’s important to understand the root causes.  Firstly, dry skin is more of a chronic issue, and can be a result of the barrier function of the skin being impaired. It can present as visible dry, flaky patches with heat, redness or itchy, irritated areas.  This may be an imbalance in the oil and water levels in the skin and can lead to skin conditions such as eczema, which is a huge problem globally.  In fact, over 80% of sufferers say that managing their skin condition negatively affects their daily lives.  Causes can be internal inflammation, poor gut health, lack of vitamins or overuse of aggressive chemicals or skincare with an alkaline pH-such as soaps.

Unless you have a dry skin condition, ‘winter skin’ is usually more as a result of dehydration.  This is a lack of water in the skin made worse by central heating, hot showers and baths with constant transitioning from the outdoor cold into hot houses, along with changes in humidity causing the skin to lose its surface water.  This results in a slightly wrinkled and dull appearance (if you gently push your skin and see small fine lines, your skin is dehydrated).  The other reason for dehydration can be due to poor skincare or bodycare choices.  Whilst beauty bars or soaps are becoming popular due to their sustainable credentials, they may not always be as nourishing for the skin as you think; soaps can have a pH of 9-10. This is very alkaline, which can disturb the natural skin flora leading to a feeling of dryness, tightness or dehydration. 

Hydration is key!

Here are a few of our top tips to help your skin get winter ready:

  1. Avoid hot baths or showers: whilst it can be tempting to immerse yourself in hot water in the winter, the high temperatures can actually dehydrate the body internally leading to parched skin. Try a blast of alternate warm and cold to trigger the immune system and condition skin.  Always finish with cold if you dare!

  2. Care for your body using only pH balanced body washes: As well as being waterless, which is actually less harsh on the skin, Ethosa Powder clever Shower Powder-to-Gel Formulations are 5.5 pH, which is the same pH as our skin.  This is key to maintain balance and prevent dryness.  Avoid harsh, drying soaps unless you know they are pH balanced.

  3. Stay hydrated: with lattes or hot chocolates becoming our winter staples, this can load the body with unnecessary sugar, and water intake can naturally reduce, so pay attention to what you are drinking throughout the day.  Keep a 1.5 litre bottle of room temperature water with you to keep your body flushed with adequate hydration.

  4. Consider supporting your liver: a stagnant liver is very common in the winter time and overloading it results in a sluggish system as a build up in toxins can automatically dehydrate the skin.  As party season comes into full effect, increased alcohol intake is often the main culprit in dry or dehydrated skins.  If you are going to drink, support your liver with Milk Thistle or take a daily spoonful of Cod Liver Oil (or Flax Seed Oil if vegan or vegetarian) to lubricate your bowel keeping your liver clear, as well as your skin.

  5. Exercise: keeping the body moving is the best way to get the blood and lymphatic system moving. Our lymphatic system slows down in the winter, and relies on movement to remove waste products from the body, including the skin.  If you can’t go to a gym, a brisk one hour walk in nature will get the system moving and will help the skin to stay soft.

  6. Sauna/ice bath or wild swimming: as mentioned in point 1. alternating temperatures are the best way to keep high immunity and keep skin conditioned and hydrated within.  Enjoy a sauna, followed by an ice dip, jump into a river (wet suit included of course!) or an ice bath at home (check our Wim Hof or James Lowden for safety tips).


Have a beautiful winter! x


About the author

Jo Givens is a trained Facialist, Make-up Artist, Skincare and Trend Analyst, Massage Therapist, Health and Wellness Coach, Treatment Designer, Beauty Expert and Public Speaker with three decades of global experience across the Spa, Cosmetics and Wellness Industries. She has trained hundreds of five-star Facialists and advised top global cosmetic brands, as well as presenting and demonstrating her facials on QVC Beauty and How to Look Good Naked. Her skincare tips have been featured in Elle and Vogue UK. She has previously worked for brands such as Liz Earle, Carol Joy London, Barefoot Botanicals and Face Gym.