Saturday, February 6, 2016

Dehydrated yet oily—my skin was as confused as I was

There were times in my life, in the past 5-6 years, when more than one person beautician and dermatologist told me that my skin was dehydrated. There were multiple times in my life, in the past 6-10 years, when more than one person told me that my skin was troubled with whiteheads.
Now, with the latter, you can pretty much tell when someone is suffering from it—although most people confuse sebaceous filaments with whiteheads—but I digress. Remind me to broach that subject later. With dehydration, however, I was always left wondering what those people truly meant. Being the snob that I was am, I never really questioned them or worse, assumed that their knowledge was flawed and that they were saying so only to push a product or service in my face.
How wrong was I?
Whether their intentions were to sell something or not is irrelevant today but what they tried to tell me didn’t prompt me to action, unfortunately, or even thought for that matter.

How I was ‘shown the mirror’ through a camera lens!
Fast forward to a year ago and post various vacays that I took with my husband, I was finally ‘shown the mirror’. While browsing through the countless vacay pics clicked by his advanced camera, I finally saw that my skin was indeed in an awful state. The lens magnified every single bump, dry patch and pigmentation that had called my skin its home.
While I never suffered from severe acne or pitted scars, whiteheads (we’ll stick with that term for now) were the bane of my life and I came to accept that. But it was only after reading skinandtonics’ blog post on moisture barrier that I truly understood what those well-meaning folks meant when they said ‘dehydrated’.
To put simply, dehydration is a condition where your skin feels dry and parched in spite of being oily. Confused, right? I was puzzled too when I first tried to wrap my head around the concept. If you’re still wondering what it means, a rundown of its symptoms may help.
·       A dehydrated skin will typically show dry and uneven patches, especially on the cheeks or chin, coupled with an oily T-zone and possibly some level of acne.

·       Dry, oily and combination are skin types, whereas dehydrated is a condition that can happen to any of these three skin types.

·       Another symptom of dehydrated skin is the lack of glow…not the JLo kind, but a sort of inner glow that one usually associates with babies and wise men.

The vicious cycle of oil and moisture
So, it was established (with a few additional research-y clicks) that my skin was dehydrated. What it basically meant was that my skin’s oil and moisture balance was askew.
Let me explain how that happens:
·       When the skin is deprived of moisture, it compensates for it by stimulating the sebaceous glands, forcing them to pump out more sebum or what we call as oil

·       Overproduction of sebum makes the skin oily (duh!), which leads the person to grab the nearest oil-stripping cleanser and/or scrub to get rid of the grease/shininess

·       Overusing harsh cleansers and scrubs not only get rids of the excess oil but also strips away what little moisture is remaining in the skin
And thus, we complete the vicious cycle where no moisture leads to more sebum, which leads to using a harsh cleanser, which again leads to zero moisture.

Enter Google and the tiny little spark called curiosity
With this fascinating piece of knowledge planted firmly in my head, I obsessively began searching for solutions. Kerry of skinandtonics is a guru when it comes to research on skincare products so reading up her must-have product recommendations seemed like a no-brainer.
But that is where things started to get interesting. Google is such a devil in that it knows exactly which buttons need to be pushed, tempting you to leave the shores of ignorance behind and sail away (for hours at end) to the land of radiant wisdom.
During my initial research, I came across, the first website I landed on during my search for products that would set the oil and moisture balance right…and possibly help with my whitehead situation too. And products did I find! From Benton’s Snail Bee Essence and Aloe Propolis Gel to Skinfood’s Black Sugar Scrub Foam and CosRx’s A-Sol, I was taking baby steps towards a well-defined goal.
In my future posts, I'll jump right in to talk about the things (products and routines) that worked for me--and the ones that didn't. Stay tuned!

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