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Dry or dehydrated skin? Know the difference

The beauty industry can be ugly and mirrors can be cruel, but this was never so clear to me as when I recently stared in horror at my reflection during a treatment. The face looking back at me was covered in blotchy purple patches, with some particularly unattractive brown spots thrown in for good measure.

Mercifully, as soon as the UV light was switched off, my complexion returned to its usual pale shade. But the vivid image of the hidden reality didn't disappear from my mind's eye quite so easily. The therapist was using UV lights to highlight all the skin issues normally invisible to the naked eye.

Apparently, I'm very dehydrated (the purple patches), which surprised me. I dutifully drink two litres of water every day, always take my make-up off before going to bed -- no matter how much fun I've been having -- and I'm a fully paid-up member of the moisturise, moisturise, moisturise brigade.

Still, it seems my regime can't fight the effects of spending hours every day in an air-conditioned office. The change of seasons isn't helping either, as the air is so much drier at this time of year.

But dehydration isn't the same as dry. The latter refers to a lack of oil, not water, while dehydrated skin can be tight, flaky and sore. Other signs that you're thirsty include experiencing breakouts after you've used a rich moisturiser specially formulated for dry skin or being prone to very fine lines.

Thankfully, the beauty industry is all too aware of us thirsty girls and our needs, and many ranges have been developed boasting hyaluronic acid and glycerine, which give skin a serious hydration boost.

Despite its scary name, hyaluronic acid is actually a natural component of our skin, which has the ability to absorb up to 1,000 times its weight in water.

As for those pesky fine lines, they're caused by skin failing to retain water as it should. A dose of nourishing glycerin should help.

REN Keep Young and Beautiful SH2C Serum (€60)

Packed with peptides, rice proteins and hyaluronic acid, it helps to plump up skin thanks to increased collagen production. Make sure to apply it before your moisturiser.

Eve Lom TLC Radiance Cream (available from Harvey Nichols, Revive Spa and Therapie in Dublin, and Killarney Park Hotel, €45)

It's as super-hydrating as the original cult cream, thanks to its key ingredient of hyaluronic acid, but it has a lighter, lifting formula for daytime.

L'Occitane Angelica Hydration Cream (€34.95)

This contains angelica root, which sucks up water at a super-fast rate.

Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask (€30)

This contains apricot kernel oil and plant glycerin to quench skin's thirst, while naturally emollient-rich orange peel wax, avocado oil and mango butters maintain hydration.

Health & Living