PSA: Don't Ignore This Sign That Your Skin Is Dehydrated, From The Pros
Looking in the mirror and seeing new fine lines etched on the face can feel alarming: It feels like you've aged seemingly without warning. But before that throws you into a panic—reaching for any acid or peel in sight—take a breather. Developing wrinkles is a normal part of the aging process and will happen to all of us with time.
But it could also be that some of those faint lines aren't permanent ones and are simply a sign that your skin is feeling a bit dehydrated. When our skin is moisturized, it appears more supple and plump—and when it's not, the opposite happens. So just take fine lines as a signal from your skin that maybe it's time to re-evaluate your skin care routine.
Here, how to deal.
What the experts say about dehydrated skin & what to do about it.
Dehydrated, dry skin will appear dull and also tends to show accelerated signs of aging, such as these fine lines. The first place to look is the eye area, where they're commonly called "crow's feet." Celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas, founder of Joanna Vargas Salons and Skin Care and author of Glow From Within, recommends checking here first: "Fine lines there can be a sign of dehydration," she says, noting the area of skin is the thinnest and most delicate.
Holistic plastic surgeon Anthony Youn, M.D., previously told us that this is especially true for those in their 20s and early 30s, confirming that fine lines on the forehead, under eyes, and in the nasolabial folds are usually the result of extremely dehydrated skin rather than aging.
But it's not only important to amp up hydration for immediate, aesthetic benefits. Chronically dry skin will, in fact, lead to permanent fine lines, notes board-certified internal medicine physician Zion Ko Lamm, M.D.: "People don't realize this, but dry skin can cause inflammation, which can lead to premature aging."
To address this, be sure to look at your hydrating creams and topicals—it might be time to upgrade to something richer or add a hyaluronic acid serum to the lineup. You'll also want to consider internal skin care. Beauty supplements can help address skin hydration with ingredients like phytoceramides, hyaluronic acid, collagen, and more.
Youn also suggests you may need to focus on additional healthy aging topicals that support the skin structure if you're finding the fine lines remain more permanent. "This can be true if you are young and relatively wrinkle-free, but if you're older—it's not just dehydration that causes wrinkles. Hydrating the skin can reduce the visibility of wrinkles temporarily, but it isn't a solution," he says. "Make sure to use a retinoid and vitamin C, exfoliate, and consider noninvasive options like IPL and micro-needling with PRP for real aging reversal."
Remember that your skin is pretty good at telling you what it needs. If it's inflamed, it needs barrier support. If it's dull, it needs brightening antioxidants. If it's developing fine lines, it's probably time to amp up hydration—both inside and out.
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.