Skincare

How to Test your Skin Hydration Levels

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Written by Swisse Wellness

I just turned 30, so of course, I keep taking an inventory of everything physically deteriorating.

My once brown hair has more gray in it than 50 Shades, I have a line on the forehead deeper than the Pacific from too much squinting and I get tired at approximately 9.10pm.

I also have dry skin – but is my skin actually dehydrated or have I just become more critical and/or hyper-aware?

I asked my beauty editor mate. “While kind of similar, dry skin and dehydrated skin are two very different beasts. Naturally dry skin, is pretty much determined by genetics and doesn’t change. Hydration levels at the cellular level though, are constantly in flux,” she tells me.

Close up of a woman's face

The Pinch Test

That’s when she introduced me to the Pinch Test – a way to determine the elasticity and hydration levels of your skin. What you do is squeeze the apples of your cheeks to feel how much collagen your skin has. If there are fine lines after pinching, your skin may be dehydrated or have reduced elasticity. Moment of truth: I’m not exactly smooth.

The Dehydration Hand Test

Then there’s the Dehydration Hand Test. Dehydration often reduces skin elasticity, so doctors often use this skin test to quickly check for dehydration. The best part is, you can do it yourself: Pinch the skin on the back of your hand and pull it upwards. Your skin should snap back rapidly. If your skin maintains its pinched shape for a few seconds and drops slowly, you may be dehydrated. Turns out, I’m OK.

Overall, what I took from this is that skin could probably be more moisturised. I used to think I had oily skin and therefore needed to avoid adding extra layers of junk to my face. Actually, my skin was creating oil to offset the dryness—so joke’s on me.

Hydration keeps your skin cells plump so your skin appears smoother, giving you a more youthful appearance. If your Pinch Test too, has shown you need to act to offset the dryness, here are three quick fixes.

FIX 1: Eat and drink your H2O

The obvious one – eight glasses of water a day is a good practice, but it's not always enough to stay fully hydrated. Fill in the gaps with water-rich fruits and vegetables (cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, watermelon) and foods high in omega-3s (salmon, tuna, flaxseeds, chia seeds) to help you stay hydrated. And keep clear of common dehydration culprits: alcohol, caffeine, high-sodium food, and tobacco.

family cooking with fresh ingredients at kitchen table

FIX 2: Change up your nighttime regime

Moisturiser and night cream are your go-to basics, but now, there are products that will hydrate your skin as you sleep – think serums and oils on top of your moisturiser to restore and maintain hydration, smooth out skin tones, and improve radiance — all while you're catching up on your ZZZs. After cleansing try this 3-step hydration regime:
1. Swisse Rosewater Balancing Mist Toner
2. Swisse CoQ10 Facial Moisturiser
3. Swisse Argan Face Oil.

How it works? The high mineral content of sea salt in the toner resembles the properties of the skin's Natural Moisturising Factor (NMF), which maintains hydration and suppleness. Next up, CoQ10 is lipid soluble and absorbs readily into the skin where it protects from UV induced damage and improves the appearance of wrinkles. It also increases the production of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) in the skin – GAGs are natural moisturising factors that hold 1000 times their weight in water, and have a plumping, hydrating effect. Finally, Argan Oil contains squalene and sterols, a combo of natural saturated fats that act as a protective, occlusive layer on the skin, preventing the loss of vital moisture from the skin and protecting the skin from the penetration of irritants.

FIX 3: Be patient

You know how important exfoliation is, but don’t get scrub-happy. Excessive exfoliation can strip away your skin's protective layer of natural oils and evaporate moisture. Even if you do use products perfect for your skin type, overusing them can cause challenges. Always go with the recommendations written on the label – for example we recommend gently massaging a small amount of Swisse Bamboo Facial Exfoliant into wet skin in a circular motion, before rinsing well with warm water, once or twice a week. Remember, good things come to those who wait – and the kind of results you’re after won’t be instant, so keep calm and don’t over scrub.