Dry vs. Dehydrated & How to Hydrate Easily Congested Skin

Excuse the quality of some of these images, the sun refuses to come out today and I wanted to get this post up asap. It’s fall now and the weather has my skin and allergies all the way fucked up.  I’m dry and dehydrated at the same time. Some people might not know the difference between the two so I’ll go ahead and explain down below.


Dehydrated Skin–anyone can have it. Whether you’re normal, dry, or oily you can suffer from dehydration. Dehydration is a lack of water retention in the upper-most skin layer. This can lead to dull looking skin, a tight, stretched feeling, sensitivity, roughness, and a stronger appearance of aged skin that emphasizes fine lines and wrinkles.

What causes dehydration? If your entire body is dehydrated your skin with reflect it. That’s the most obvious answer. However, there are other causes such as UV rays, using excessively hot water on the skin, air condition/heating, wind, and over-use of exfoliators and actives. Another contributing factor is your diet: if you’re consuming too many dehydrators such as caffeine and alcohol your skin will show it. If you’ve ever had a night of intense drinking you know how shitty your skin looks the next day.


What can you do about dehydrated skin? Drink water. Lots of water. Avoid excess alcohol and caffeine. Use a hyaluronic acid in your skincare routine to bind water molecules to the dermis. I take this collagen supplement in an herbal tea everyday because of how dry and dehydrated I am and it’s really helped hydrate me from the inside out. Consume healthy fats appropriate to your caloric needs, such as avocado, salmon, olive oil, etc. Prepare your skin for weather conditions. Cover it if it’s windy outside, use a heavier cream when there’s strong AC/central heating in use. Wash your face with luke warm water, and avoid getting your face in the way of the stream in the shower if you shower with hot water.

I am currently using the Vichy Aqualia Thermal Serum $36 for my hyaluronic acid. There are cheaper products that are just as effective on the market, but this one does the job well for me right now. It’s very important to let this sink in properly before applying hydration on top so that the molecules from your cream can really be pulled into the skin.


Dry Skin–is when your skin lacks sebum and lipids. This type of skin will soak moisturizer up like a sponge, flake, show texture more obviously, and can lead to premature aging of the skin if not cared for. The causes of this are simply due to genetics, but there are many ways to combat dryness and keep your skin hydrated.

Treating Dry Skin that is Easily Congested

Combating a lack of sebum production in the skin means that you need to add it back. For those of us who suffer from dry skin and easily congested skin, a lot of trial and error happens to strike the right balance. Many hydrating products contain comedogenic ingredients. Comedogenic refers to a product or ingredient that blocks pores leading to congestion or outright acne. “Comedo” is the word for an acne lesion, so comedogenic refers to products that contribute to these lesions. There are plenty of websites out there with lists of comedogenic products and ingredients that you can look up if you’re unsure about whether or not to purchase an item.

Some basics to avoid if your skin is easily congested:

  • Dimethicone–aka silicone. A filler ingredient that doesn’t hydrate, but gives a smooth velvety feeling. Most people can handle this, but it’s not great and has no benefits for your skin. I’m personally very annoyed by brands who use silicon in their products. I’m not paying for cheap filler shit to go on my face. When using oils look for the most pure version and make sure to look at ingredients if you’re using a blend. For example, La Mer’s Renewal Oil has dimethicone as the second ingredient. At $245 per oz it’s fucking absurd to have a cheap ass filler as the second listed ingredient. Incredibly disappointing.
  • Coconut Oil–has been lauded as a the holy grail of beauty oils for a while now. It’s 2017 and we’re smarter now. We don’t listen to Pinterest about our skincare anymore. The majority of people cannot tolerate coconut oil on the skin. It’s incredibly comedogenic and will clog you up and give you acne if you’re even mildly sensitive to it.
  • Here is a list of all the ingredients that can potentially clog your pores. It seems extensive and impossible to not use any of these, especially with dry skin as you have to get your hydration somewhere!
Spot Treating Acne & Congested Skin

One of the most common methods of healing a pimple or congested skin is to dry that sucker out. If you have dry skin, masking your entire face with a drying clay mask is big no-no. If you think your acne could be because of a compromised skin barrier read my post on that here, because that’s a bit of a different situation than acne caused by other factors. They should be treated differently.

My personal recommendation for drying out acne spots or patches of congestion on the face is Caudalie’s Instant Detox Mask $39. French Pink Clay is one of the most gentle clays you can use on your face. It won’t dry you out quite as much as other clays will. This mask is incredible. I’m not big on all of Caudalie’s products but I notice a huge difference on my skin when I use this one. I apply it with a q-tip on my congested spots and pimples overnight as a spot treatment. I also use it on my nose where I produce the most sebum. I like that this one tightens up the pores too, which is essential because congestion can stretch them out.


Prevention is Key

Prevention will always beat treating. Congestion stretches pores and while they can be refined and tightened up after, if the congestion is bad enough it will likely stretch the pore permanently. To avoid this it’s best to target potential congestion before it can crop up on your face. Part of this includes looking at ingredients in anything that touches your face. Aside from your skincare products, check out what’s going in your hair because there are strong chances of that ending up on your face at some point. A lot of haircare products contain incredibly comedogenic ingredients.

Exfoliating is the best way to prevent congestion. Dead skin and excess sebum are the main components of congested skin, exfoliation targets both of these and gets them off the face. Again, it’s 2017 so we know better than to wreck our faces with shitty manual exfoliators. It’s all about acids. AHA’s and BHA’s are the way I combat my congestion.

Chemical exfoliators can be drying, really drying, actually. It’s best to use them sparingly, and to avoid any other drying products when you use them. You have to let your skin recover and rebuild its top layer so it’s able to maintain lipids and oils.

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid $29 is basically gold in a bottle. When I introduced this into my skincare routine all of my congestion disappeared. My skin also became really dry from overuse. It’s important to use this only as much as your skin can handle without drying out. I go every 3rd or 4th day with it. I make sure to hit my face with a hyaluronic acid after and then double down on hydration with an oil and a thick cream.

Oils are not Evil 

Oils can be comedogenic, but if you’re dry you need them. You need creams, oils, anything that can rehydrate and plump your skin. One of my favorite oils for my face that I haven’t experienced congestion from is Dr. Jart’s Ceramidin Oil Balm $35. It contains an impressive blend of oils, some a tad more comedogenic than others. The whole Ceramidin line targets dry and dehydrated skin. I’m very impressed by the way that this particular oil blend sinks into my skin, soothes redness, and plumps my skin. I love when I can tell that my skin is retaining moisture instead of just letting a product sit on top. This is an oil that treats as well as soothes.

A second favorite is Fresh’s Seaberry Moisturizing Oil $52, which is absurdly good. I have a smaller travel size pictured, by the way. This oil contains omega’s 3, 6, and 9, as well as vitamin E, which helps the skin retain moisture. I have yet to experience any clogging with this product, and it’s another one where I can really tell that my skin is drinking it in. I’ve reviewed it before in a post about my favorite oils.

Hope you all enjoyed this post, I know all of them have been quite lengthy thus far, but hey it’s good to be informative when recommending products to people. Skincare isn’t cheap and informing yourself before you go out and spend money can really cut down the trial and error of finding what works for you.

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