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by Dr.Yan-Wen Wang

Why is my skin always “super dry” after applying so many hydrating products? Taiwan’s most beautiful doctor reveals how you can achieve an all-inclusive skincare regimen

Hydration is the skincare issue that female patients most frequently inquire about, which is a clear indicator for the general awareness of the importance of this issue. Is it really possible to achieve optimal hydration effects and higher moisture contents by applying layer after layer of different hydrating products?  

Is your skin sufficiently hydrated? The following three simple steps provide the answer!  

From a medical perspective, the optimal moisture level of the stratum corneum of the average person ranges between 20 and 35%, which gives the skin a supple, healthy, tender, and delicate appearance and is conducive to normal metabolism of the stratum corneum. How can we determine whether our hydration routine is really effective or whether it only gives us peace of mind? I suggest the following three simple steps of self-assessment. If you meet the following criteria, your skin is probably not properly hydrated.

1. Does your face feel tight soon after you apply your skincare products?

Observation of skin conditions several hours after application of hydrating products is the most direct method. If the skin appears supple, smooth, and tender, it can be inferred that the skin has absorbed sufficient moisture. A feeling of tightness emerges if hydration is insufficient, and the moisture evaporates rapidly over time. Extremely dry skin is even prone to scaling and itchiness.

2.  Does your face turn into an oily mess in summer?

Mixed skin is the most common skin time in the 20-50 age group. The T-Zone is prone to oiliness and blackhead formation, while the two cheeks tend to be dry and scaly. Due to the muggy climate in Taiwan, we often neglect the importance of hydration due to increased oil secretion on the face. Salaried employees who work in air-conditioned office areas, in particular, tend to have both dry and oily skin in different areas of the face, which can lead to a dull and sallow complexion and poor skin conditions.

3. Do lingering dry lines and cakeyness always ruin your makeup?

Dry skin is one of the main factors ruining makeup. Due to the fact that the powder soaks up the moisture on the face, skin dryness is very common. Due to the fact dehydrated skin often has a coarse and rough texture, the makeup foundation doesn’t stick to the skin and dry lines are clearly visible. If the makeup doesn’t last, the reason is often not a low-quality foundation product but rather insufficient hydration of the skin.

What are the best hydrating products? The formula is even more important than the ingredients!

The key to accurate hydration lies in the selection of suitable hydrating products. Utilized ingredients and the formula are the two main criteria for the selection of the right products.
1. Hyaluronic acid is the No.1 hydrating component! It is suitable for all skin types due to its excellent skin affinity and moisture capture properties  

There are countless hydrating components, but as far as moisturization is concerned, my top choice is the well-known ingredient hyaluronic acid. It has the most powerful moisture absorption properties among all hydrophilic hydrating components (1g of hyaluronic acid can hold up to 1000cc of water) and can therefore rapidly moisturize dry skin. In addition to exceptional moisture capture properties, it has excellent skin affinity and is therefore suitable for all skin types (e.g., oily, dry, and sensitive). Hyaluronic acid is the best entry-level hydrating component.   
Despite the fact that this ingredient is widely utilized, its quality and efficacy vary significantly. Hyaluronic acid quality is determined by production processes, origins, and extraction technologies. Quality is usually reflected in price. I strongly recommend purchase of internationally certified or patented hyaluronic acid with guaranteed quality and efficacy to ensure worry-free use in facial areas.

2. Less is more – The safest formulas are suitable for post-surgery skin care and sensitive skin

Although soothing and hydrating products are milder to the skin than whitening or acid-based products, they still have to be selected carefully. Products that contain alcohol, artificial fragrance and coloring, and other irritating ingredients should be avoided. The stratum corneum of dry skin tends to be rather fragile and defensive capabilities of the skin are weakened if it is irritated after cosmetic surgery or the skin type is sensitive. In serious cases, issues such as itchiness, redness, or a tingling sensation can ensue. Simple formulas with no added irritants are safer and don’t strain the skin. 

Every step is crucial to ensure impeccable hydration!

In addition to the selection of suitable hydrating products, the adoption of accurate skincare procedures and methods is critical. The following Musts are necessary prerequisites of effective increase of stratum corneum moisture levels and perfectly healthy, tender skin.  

1. The selected toner is the key to accelerated absorption of follow-up skincare products applied in sequence
Why can’t my skin absorb all the hydrating products I have applied? Maybe what’s missing is the right toner. Some people skip the toner and apply serums right after cleansing the face. As a matter fact, the toner plays a crucial rule in the skincare regimen. It cannot achieve moisture-locking effects, but it softens the stratum corneum due to its high moisture content and thereby facilitates and accelerates penetration and absorption of follow-up skincare products.

As for the selected texture, users may be uncertain which product to select – a toner with a thick texture and better hydrating properties or a product with a lighter texture which is easier to absorb? In fact, there is no direct correlation between textures and hydrating abilities. Toner products should therefore be selected in accordance with personal preferences. Toners with light, watery textures are the most common on the market. In addition to gentle patting motions on the face, cotton pads or masks applied wet to the face for 3-5 minutes are the most common ways to apply toner and thereby achieve rapid replenishment of moisture. Toners with a serum-like texture are more unique. They have thicker textures and can be directly applied through gentle patting or wiping with cotton pads to achieve a more moisturized feel.

2. Too lavish or sparing use of skincare products should be avoided

Hydrating products available at department store counters sell for thousands of NT dollars. This represents a considerable expense for salaried employees. Such products therefore tend to be used more sparingly. However, the application of suitable amounts is crucial to achieve the desired hydration effect. Recommended amounts for several basic skincare steps are as follows:  

A. Toner:
If the product is applied with cotton pads, it should be ensured that they are properly soaked in toner. An amount equivalent to a 10 NT Dollar Coin is sufficient if the product is applied by hands.

B. Serum:

Recommended amounts depend on product textures. For gel-like textures, an amount roughly equivalent to a 2-3 cm long strand should be applied. As for more liquid textures, 2-3 drops are sufficient. For thicker, emulsion-like textures, an amount equivalent to a 1 cm long strand is recommended.

Suitable amounts should be determined based on skin type instead of product texture. Amounts roughly equivalent to a 2 cm and 1.5 cm diameter are recommended for dry and all other skin types, respectively.  

3. Different seasons require different skincare products

The rate of oil secretion on the face is greatly increased during the summer months. The face therefore tends to feel hot and stuffy and appears shiny and greasy. The main focus of skin care therefore lies on oil control and giving the skin a fresh feel. I recommend oil-in-water hydrating products with lighter textures characterized by higher percentages of water and lower percentages of oil for this season. In the fall and winter months, however, dry skin is the most common issue. Moisturizing, water-in-oil products with higher oil ratios are therefore suggested to reduce moisture evaporation and increase skin moisture levels. Moisturizing lotions, creams, or skincare oil are ideal for these seasons.

4. Highly effective skin care with optimal results through massaging!

During massages, the hands and face should be moist. If the amount of skincare product on the hands is insufficient during the massage process, the skin surface is stretched which can result in fine lines or even injuries. Applied amounts of lotion or cream should therefore be doubled (e.g., amounts equivalent to a 5 NT Dollar Coin should be increased to quantities equal to a 10 NT Dollar Coin). Prior to the massage, the product should be warmed in the palms through rubbing. The face should be gently pressed to slightly open up the pores through the warmth of the hands and thereby enhance absorption of the product. Upward massage motions coupled with gentle circular massage motions in the eye area ensure optimal absorption of skincare ingredients and slowed down aging.