Recently I learnt how important it is to know your skin type and how easy it is to get it wrong. For years I was adamant that my skin was oily. What gave me this impression was the fact that I suffered from a shiny t-zone and every now and then a blemish popped up (usually hormonal). My skin wasn't chronically bad but I really wasn't happy with it. Occasionally my skin me serious aggrevation when makeup would slide off by lunch time and I was plagued with visibly open pores.
One evening after a bad day I headed into Harvey Nichols and wandered over to the Dermalogica stand. A very close friend of mine was a Dermalogica fan but I had never used any of their products. The lady there offered me a free procedure known as face mapping. This is where they break your skin up into 14 different zones and look at your skin under magnifying goggles diagnosing each zone as they go along.
What the woman then said shocked me. She said that the occasional oiliness I was suffering with was as a result of dehydrated skin and in general terms that was my "skin type", although lumping your skin into one particular category isn't advised as each area can be suffering from different problems, your skin can also change with age and your surroundings (change in ambient temperature and air quality).
So what is dehydrated skin? I presumed she meant dry skin. But I was wrong. Dry skin is as a result of lack of oil and dehydrated skin is as a result of lack of water.You can have oily skin and still have an underlying dehydration problem. The oiliness comes from the dehydration. Basically your skin goes into panic mode and produces more oil to compensate for that. As a result your skin appears oily. Most people misdiagnose their skin type as the oiliness is more visible. They then result to using harsh cleansers that strip away the oil making the skin more dehydrated and the whole cycle starts again.
I've also learnt why I have open pores and what blackheads really are. Because my skin is dehydrated my skin has started to suffer from (minor) sagginess, premature ageing and open pores. This dehydration causes my skin to produce more sebum. Contrary to popular belief blackheads (or comedones) aren't dirt per-se. When the sebum reaches the surface of your skin it oxidises with the open air and turns dark and that's what a blackhead is. That's why when you squeeze a comedone the tip is dark and the end is a creamy colour. Iccckkk! For years I tried to treat blackheads by removing moisture from the skin when actually if I'd kept it hydrated they may never have appeared in the first place.
So how do I treat my dehydrated skin? Well it's expensive. High street (drugstore) brands rarely cater for dehydrated skin and my purse can't always stretch to high end products. My core products come from Dermalogica, I like the products, the staff and the ethos. I have facials there regularly (£20 a pop is SUCH a bargain!) and get my skin checked over regularly to keep an eye on things which is all complimentary and another reason I use Dermalogica (FYI, I DON'T work for them!!) Recently I have spotted a few products from Simple that are suited to dehydrated skin, namely a moisturiser and a facial spritz which I am trialling at the moment. Most products are for dry skin and tend to be oil based which is no good for me as this doesn't treat the lack of water and I'm just sticking oil on top of oil. I've had to seriously up my water intake as this is the most effective way to treat it but I'm also finding that using a combination of products in different areas of my skin seems to be working. I've completely binned all products that say "For Combination Skin" on them as I don't really understand how one product can effectively treat the whole of my hotch potch face. I use my moisturiser for dehydrated skin all over and then a mattifyer on my oily t-zone. This is adding the much needed water back into my skin whilst drying up the oil. I also now avoid oil based products as I don't need them which means I had to bypass the delicious smelling Clarins face oils (boo!).
Well done if you've got to the end of this very long post! It was wordy but I hope you learnt something. I would urge everyone to please go and check their skin type. It could save you cash too. When I think about all the money I wasted on products that really weren't suitable for my skin type I'm horrified. Really my skin isn't that bad. I belie my years and am regularly mistaken for being 5 years younger than I actually am (lucky me!) but being a beauty blogger means I'm hyper critical and have always got my face in the mirror!
I hope you found this helpful and I hope you are encouraged to find out what your skin type is. I couldn't recommend the face mapping procedure highly enough at Dermalogica, the staff are friendly and not pushy (in fact they are actively encouraged NOT to hard sell). I'd also recommend reading this article (link) on skin types as it is really helpful.
Let me know how you get on!