By Helen Clemson

In my late 20’s, three big things happened: I got married, I made an important career move, and my skin condition changed – radically. I went from having acne breakouts to officially being dehydrated. This isn’t to be confused with having dry skin because dehydration can still feel oily and dry at the same time. The biggest indicator for me was waking up every morning to a tight-feeling face and searching desperately for my day cream. It was like I wanted to marinade my skin in it. Dry skin however simply lacks oil, whereas dehydrated skin lacks water – that’s perhaps why I had these constant visions of wanting to bathe my face in very hydrating moisturiser to quench it’s insatiable thirst. In the years that have followed – I’m now 36 – I’ve played around with treatment products, layering them for best result. I still find that for a winning recipe (especially when my skin has been sucked dry thanks to dry weather or air-conditioning), a hydrating serum packed with active ingredients is better than a moisturiser alone. That I’m afraid, just doesn’t cut cut it.

So let’s talk serums; or if we must, concentrates and boosters. These are within the same family (in other words, don’t get too bogged down by the language), but for the purposes of solving your dehydration issues, know that these lightweight textured products are able to penetrate deeper to deliver active ingredients into your skin where you need them, so you really feel and see the difference. Now, concentration of active ingredients varies depending on how the product itself is formulated as, after all it’s not like there’s some concentration formulation standard that all serums have to comply with to be a serum. How you use these types of product makes all the difference though: under your moisturiser, come day or night. In other words, cleanse, tone, serum (or booster or concentrate) and then moisturise. Otherwise, that thin-textured, gel-like product ain’t going to stand a chance against your moisturising face cream once it’s absorbed into your skin. It’s as good as wasted.

This trio of products have got little ol’ dehydrated me excited because, number one, they don’t cost a bomb, and number two, they’re ideal for sensitised dehydrated skin, a condition that goes hand-in-hand. Right now I’m using Bioderma Hydrabio Serum Moisturising Concentrate, (R299) at Dis-Chem and Clicks. One evening, after applying it, I actually forgot to use moistuiser (I have an 18 month old, so I’m always tired and always in a rush) and I was impressed with the level of comfort it gave my skin. This might be because it’s best suited to very dehydrated skin and works by stimulating the production of aquaporins (water channels in the skin) so that they retain the water the skin needs to stay balanced.

Next up on my hit list is Vichy’s Mineral 89 Fortifying and Plumping Daily Booster (R375 at Clicks & Dis-Chem). With it’s fluid-like texture (a great choice if you hate tacky or overly rich creams), the treatment reinforces skin’s barrier function, to make it stronger against aggressors like pollution, stress and fatigue. We all need that to be very honest.

Lastly, I’m crushing hard on Avène Hydrance Hydrating Serum (R299.95 at Clicks). I think other than it’s hydration benefits (and it’s super to use on very sensitive skin), it noticeably smooths fine lines, which thanks to dehydration aren’t that pretty to look that. While it does contain fragrance in the formulation (many products for sensitive skins don’t), it’s paraben free and I find it to be very gentle and non-reactive on my skin.

What’s that about drinking more water you say? Well, here’s a note about water and it’s relationship with dehydrated skin: it’s not that effective. Glugging litres of H20 in an effort to get a dewy-looking complexion is good for your body, but for your face, nah, not really…get your hands on a good hydrating serum rather.


I love this. Thank you for all your handy info time and time again! 😘❤

Thanks for information. Would you say you liked the Avene Hydrance more or the Bioderma. I have drier skin no breakouts so not that sensitive, but in need of hydration after a long Jozi winter.

Hi Suzanne, Both will yield great results. Personally, I LOVE the Avene 🙂

Hi Roberta, thanks so much. Glad you found the feature useful 🙂

Hi Candice. I’m excited to try all of them! I’m doing a mature womens make up for her wedding in October and I’d love to use all these products on her for her special day. ❤👰

A very informative read! Although I do still think drinking enough water does help make a difference. Thanks. R

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