Kelly Driscoll

Skincare going more than skin deep…

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Dehydrated Skin | The Hidden Skin Type

Have you heard of the hidden skin type?

When I was growing up I used Neutrogena skincare. I loved their deep cleansing cream and grapefruit cleanser. And I used their Oil Free Daily Moisturizer. I remember going to the store to pick it out, there was one for dry skin, one for oily and one for combination.

I remember getting the oily one when I was a teenager. I always believed I had very oily skin. I mean, when you look in the mirror and your skin is shinier than a new penny it’s a no brainer that your skin is oily. Or is it?

As I got older my skin seemed like it was still oily but it was also quite tight feeling. My skin would sometimes feel like it was burning underneath the surface and sometimes my skin was even red when I would take my makeup off at the end of a long work day.

It would make sense to declare my burning, irritated, tight and red skin to be dry if it wasn’t for the thick layer of oil coating my entire face.

Was it possible that my face was dry AND oily…?!

I remembered back to my Neutrogena days. One for oily, one for dry and one for combination skin. But what if my skin was none of those things?

Since I didn’t truly know my skin type, I couldn’t properly treat the burning and irritation. It seemed like the more moisturizer I put on trying to tame that fire, the oilier my skin got and the angrier the irritation became.

And then I learned about the hidden skin type. Dehydrated skin.

Dehydrated Skin Vs. Dry Skin

So why was my burning and tight skin not considered dry skin?

Dry skin is skin that lacks oil. Dry skin is skin that is deficient in its lipid layer and therefore needs more oil based products to build the protective lipid layer back up.

Dehydrated skin lacks water. Dehydrated skin needs to replenish water at the deepest layers of the skin to repair the moisture barrier. When the skin does not receive this water it reacts the only way it can, by producing more oil in an attempt to protect the skin.

When I treated my dehydrated skin with moisturizers and products designed for dry skin, I was adding even more oil to my skin and effectively sealing it off from receiving the water it truly needed.

Dehydrated Skin

Skin that produces a lot of oil and is also shedding a lot of skin cells will have a problem with blackheads, clogged pores and will be congested overall.

This has been lovingly (?) dubbed the shell by Cat of Snow White and The Asian Pear, and her name couldn’t be more apt.

The shell is created from a slurry of oil and dead skin cells that not only gets trapped in the pores creating congestion and a million clogged pores but it also creates a barrier between the deepest layers of our skin and our hydrating products.

So the first step in treating your dehydrated skin is to remove that Sludge Shell monster from your face.

Why You Need To Be Dropping Acids (on your face)

In order to melt that Sludge Shell off your face, you need to be dropping acids on your face like (Snoop Dogg voice) every single day (or every day for the chemical exfoliation initiated).

Chemical exfoliation, lovingly known as acids in the skincare community, will help penetrate the Sludge Shell monster, melting it away and allowing your hydrating products to reach the deepest level of your skin to replenish your moisture barrier.

There are two types of chemical exfoliants that we need to think about as dehydrated skin types:


AHAs are acids that work to exfoliate the top layer of the skin. This will remove the dead skin cells that are collecting on the top layer of the skin.


BHAs work inside of the pores to help dissolve the oil stuck inside causing your blackheads and clogged pores.

Dehydrated skin people will benefit greatly from including both types of exfoliants in their routine. This will effectively clear away the Sludge Shell monster and create the ideal canvas for those wonderful hydrating products to be drunk up by our thirsty skin.

Chemical Exfoliants:

*The Ordinary AHA Peeling Solution

*Cosrx BHA liquid

Thirsty AF

Now that we have effectively dealt with the Sludge Shell monster it’s time to give that dehydrated skin some hydration!

Now, the one thing you have to remember when it comes to treating dehydrated skin is that it’s thirsty AF and it truly can’t get enough hydrating products. You might find yourself putting on four layers of a hydrating toner, and your skin will still feel thirsty. That’s okay. Just remember to give it as much hydration as it wants, and know it might change from day to day.

Your best friends are going to be watery toners and essences. You want to focus a lot of your routine on these categories. This is where you are going to deliver the most water to your skin.

Here’s a list of some favorite products:

*Benton Snail Bee Skin

*Secret Key Aloe Fresh Toner

*Klairs Supple Preparation Toner

*Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner

*Hada Labo Gokujun Hyaluronic Lotion Moist

As a dehydrated skin type you want to stay away from heavy and rich products. These are formulated with oil and meant for dry skin. These products are often occlusive which means they seal the skin with oil. As dehydrated skin types we don’t want to seal off our skin, so we have to look for moisturizing products that are humectants — they attract more water to the skin.

Here is a list of tried and true humectant creams that work for dehydrated skin:

*Beauty of Joseon Dynasty Cream

*Hada Labo Gokujun Hyaluronic Cream

*Laniege Sleeping Pack

*Etude House Bubble Green Tea Sleeping Pack

And I feel it’s important to mention low PH cleansers as well. Since dehydrated skin types struggle to keep their moisture barrier balanced, I suggest we start with a low PH cleanser to keep that balance in place. If you want to learn more I have written an article all about it here.

Dehydrated skin is truly the hidden skin type, but once you know what you’re dealing with, keeping that Sludge Shell monster in check and quenching your thirsty AF skin isn’t too hard.

As ever if this was TL;DR I’ve got you covered in this YouTube video:



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