The body consists of 60 percent water, making it an essential element for many body processes. The brain is 73 percent water and the lungs are 83 percent water. The skin also needs water to remain elastic, smooth, and plump.  

Water keeps the body hydrated and refreshed. It also helps maintain moisture in the skin, which can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and scars.  

Hydration is a key aspect of the skin that influences its mechanical and physical properties. Let’s discuss the skin’s properties and how hydration affects them. 

The Skin and Water Content 

The skin is the largest organ in the body that acts as a large interfacial film separating the human body and the external environment. The epidermis or stratum corneum (SC) is the outermost skin layer that acts as a barrier.  

The epidermis has many functions – first, it is an effective versatile material that is soft, robust, and pliable to withstand physical stress and strain. It also acts as a responding material that changes depending on the skin environment.  

Hydration affects the mechanical properties of the skin, including its strength and elasticity. Past studies have reported that the epidermis’s water content is the main factor that governs its flexibility and elasticity.  

Differences between dehydrated skin on the face and the body 

Before tackling the difference between dehydrated skin on the face and other parts of the body, it is also imperative to discuss the difference between dry skin and dehydrated skin.  

Dry skin occurs when the skin lacks oil or sebum. When you have dry skin, the sebaceous glands don’t produce enough natural oils. Dehydrated skin, on the other hand, happens when the skin lacks water. The common symptoms of dehydrated skin include fine lines, flakiness, dull complexion, and congestion like blackheads.  

Many factors can cause dehydrated skin. Mainly, the skin gets stripped of moisture by the climate, lack of sleep, air conditioning, drinking too much caffeine or alcohol, too-hot showers, and not drinking enough water.  

Anatomically speaking, the skin on the face differs from the body in many ways.  

Size of skin cells 

The skin cells on the face are relatively smaller than on the rest of the body. Since skin cells aim to protect the body like a barrier and when they are smaller, there is less protection. This means that the skin is more sensitive and dehydration signs can appear more.  

Types of skin cells 

Apart from the size of cells on the skin, their distribution in the body also differs. In the face, the keratinocytes, the cells abundantly found in the epidermis, continuously migrate to the upper layer in a week. On the other hand, the body’s keratinocytes migrate in over two weeks. This means that the skin on the face gets rid of dead skin cells faster.  

The cells that migrate to the top layer of the skin are called corneocytes. In the face, they make up about 4 to 8 layers, while they may reach as many as 11 to 17 layers in the body. Melanocytes, the cells that provide pigment or skin tone, produce melanin. It aims to protect the skin from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. The facial skin contains higher levels of melanin since it has often exposed to the sun.  

Facial skin is thinner 

The skin on the body is thicker than the skin on the face. Further, there is a thinner layer of fat under the skin on the face. Hence, when the skin is dehydrated, wrinkles may appear more visibly. The thinnest layers of skin can be found under the eyes and on the eyelids.  

Oil glands 

The skin has more oil glands than anywhere in the body. This explains why the skin on your face is oilier. Oil on the face is produced to lubricate the skin and to ward off infection. Over-cleansing the face will strip it off some essential oils, preventing the skin to function normally. As a result, the skin will produce more oil to compensate for the dry skin, causing clogged pores, pimples, and wrinkles.  

So, why is dehydrated skin on the face different from the rest of the body?  

The skin on the face is always exposed to environmental stress, ultraviolet rays from the sun, and pollution. It can be more sensitive and ages faster than the other parts of the body. Further, it can get dehydrated easily since it is thinner. When the facial skin is dehydrated, it shows off signs like fine lines and wrinkles.  

Further, the skin on the face is more susceptible to skin issues like hyperpigmentation, blemishes, and dull appearance due to sun exposure and dehydration.  

Compared to the skin on the rest of the body, facial skin needs more attention and gentle care.  

How to address dehydrated skin on the face? 

The face is delicate and vulnerable to various skin issues. One of the most commonly reported issues is dehydrated skin. Here are some ways to address and manage dehydrated skin on the face.  

  • Make sure you’re hydrated enough by drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water daily.  

  • Avoid consuming too many caffeine-containing drinks like coffee, tea, and soda. Avoid drinking too much alcohol.  

  • Consume healthy food options with more servings of fruits and vegetables. 

  • Make sure to sleep enough at night to help the skin rest and rejuvenate. Managing stress properly is also helpful.  

  • Avoid harsh and strong products on your face. Gentle products are best to help the skin look and feel moisturized and hydrated. Some of the recommended hydrating products include the Nourishing Night Oil (NNO) enriched with Vitamin E, which contains jojoba oil and vitamin E, both have antioxidant properties. Apart from this, the night oil is similar to the skin’s natural oil, making it ideal for use to moisturize, hydrate, and protect the skin. Other hydrating skin products you can use are CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream SPF 30, Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream, and Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel, among others.  

  • Don’t wash your skin with hot water. Too-hot water can make the skin feel more dehydrated.  

  • Invest in a humidifier as it helps restore moisture by reducing dry air in the room.  

  • Make sure to exfoliate at least once a week. Dead skin cells may build up on the surface of the skin, preventing it from absorbing products like moisturizers. Exfoliating can help get rid of dead skin cells.  

Dehydrated skin should not be ignored, as it can cause skin problems. Consult with your dermatologist on what measures to take to prevent and address this skin issue. To look youthful and have radiant skin, make sure to moisturize and hydrate your skin, particularly on the face.