As if dry skin isn’t enough of a hassle, add sensitivity to the mix and you’ll have to worry about checking for irritating ingredients every time you’re picking out a skincare product, or deliberating between adding another product to your routine versus cutting back to avoid triggering an allergic reaction.

While the struggles of a person with dry and sensitive skin are frustratingly specific, a dry-and-sensitive skin condition is surprisingly common. It begs the question of whether dry skin causes sensitive skin or vice versa, and if improving one skin issue can help with the other.

In this article, we speak to Noriko, a Professional Skincare Advisor at Earthcare Asia, about whether dry skin leads to skin sensitivity and her best tips for soothing dry and sensitive skin!

Pssst! Since dry skin needs nothing more than moisture, we also tested a moisturising gel that’s effective for dry and sensitive skin for a month and share our verdict. Spoiler alert: this moisturiser’s getting a spot on our bathroom shelves.

What is dry skin?

If you’ve dubbed your skin as dry after feeling tightness on the surface, you should know that the feeling of dryness isn’t all there is to dry skin. Instead, Noriko explained, “Dry skin is the state of lacking moisture retention capacity.”

The skin’s moisture levels should ideally lie between 15% to 20%, said Noriko. Dryness occurs when the skin is unable to hold this amount of moisture to keep itself hydrated throughout the day.

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We’d imagine our skin to be a water plant growing in a cracked vessel; the water simply doesn’t hold for very long, which causes the plant to dry out. The result is not just a feeling of dryness but damage to your skin over time too.

“Skin that can retain adequate moisture is able to protect itself from external stimuli such as ultraviolet rays and also maintain a smooth texture,” revealed Noriko. For dry skin, it’s the opposite and the results include everything from roughness and flakiness to extra sensitivity to the sun’s harsh rays.

How can I tell if I have dry skin?

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While not every person experiences dry skin the same way, you can check your complexion against some common symptoms to find out whether you should be placing dry skin on your list of skin concerns, Noriko shared.

One sign of dryness is skin that’s always flaking or with powdery skin cells that sit on the surface. If you experience a chapped or hardened skin surface, tightness or stickiness, or itchiness and redness, it’s reason enough for you to start counting your skin as dry too.

What is sensitive skin?

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You can typically tell if your skin is sensitive if it tingles, itches, or becomes red in contact with most skincare products or makeup. That’s because “sensitive skin is the state of skin that is prone to hypersensitive reactions to things that come into contact with the skin such as cosmetics, UV rays, detergents, clothing, and so on,” underlined Noriko.

“If one’s skin is easily irritated by normal things that [don’t normally affect] others, they are likely to have sensitive skin.”

“Sensitive skin is a condition in which the skin barrier functions are significantly deteriorated compared to healthy skin,” she detailed. “This could be caused by normalised dry skin, genetics, [or] skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis and chemical hypersensitivity.”

Skin barrier: what you need to know

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Photo source: FP_atkwork/Freepik

To understand why this is significant, you have to be familiar with what a skin barrier is and how it functions as part of the skin. Since the skin barrier is the outermost layer of the skin, you can picture it as a brick wall that defends the skin against external stressors like UV rays.

But besides shielding the skin from what’s on the outside, this “brick wall” barrier also prevents skin from losing what’s on the inside: moisture. That’s right, the protective barrier plays an important role in sealing in moisture, making sure that the skin stays adequately hydrated throughout the day.

In other words, sensitive skin is a condition of a poorly-functioning skin barrier, which causes the skin to become more susceptible to irritation or damage caused by external factors as well as dehydration.

Dry skin causes skin sensitivity

We’ve already established that sensitive skin, which is a condition of a weakened skin barrier, can cause the skin to become further dehydrated. What we haven’t unpacked is that dry skin is the cause of a weakened skin barrier over time and, thus, the result of skin sensitivity.

Translation? Although sensitive skin can result in dry skin, it works the opposite way as well: dry skin, too, can cause skin sensitivity. In fact, as Noriko stressed, dryness is a leading cause of sensitive skin.

“When skin gets dry, its defensive barrier function deteriorates significantly,” explained Noriko.

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Recall the image of a protective “brick wall”? Now, imagine the skin cells to be the bricks that form the wall.

When the skin is dry and the skin cells don’t receive adequate moisture, they shrink and cause “holes” to appear in the barrier. The once-strong brick wall becomes punctuated with crusty holes: the skin’s barrier is weakened and the skin is prone to sensitivity.

The good news is that by tackling the cause of sensitive skin – dryness, you can improve your skin’s sensitivity. “Dry skin is one of the causes of sensitive skin. By relieving skin dryness, skin sensitivity can be improved,” Noriko assured.

Tips for improving dryness and skin sensitivity

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To fight dry skin, you’ll need to give it a regular boost of moisture, which means that it’s time you start reaching for your best moisturiser products.

“The most effective way to replenish moisture is by applying moisturisers,” Noriko affirmed. “Apply moisturisers when your skin feels dry. Creating even just a little more moisture sealed into the skin will help to improve dryness.”

She also shared that you don’t have to wait until your skin begins to feel tight and dry before you quench its thirst with a layer of moisturiser. Instead, applying the moisturiser at regular three- to four-hour intervals keeps your skin feeling healthy and hydrated from day to night.

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Noriko also suggests adopting better lifestyle habits like having a well-balanced diet that’s rich in proteins and vitamins – nutrients that produce skin cells, as well as getting sufficient sleep so that your skin has time to renew itself overnight.

Knowing that your skin is prone to sensitivity, you should also avoid contact with allergens that might trigger itchiness and redness.

A moisturiser that is perfect for dry and sensitive skin

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For dry and sensitive skin, Noriko advises using the Aqucrio Aquatect Gel moisturiser.

“It contains a well-balanced combination of water to hydrate, oil to seal in the moisture, and moisturising ingredients that are necessary for the skin,” she explained. “Another great feature is that it can be recoated and reapplied as many times [throughout the day] as the skin gets dry.”

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The moisturising gel is formulated with water and oil in a golden 8:2 ratio to effectively hydrate and lock in moisture. Squalane, avocado oil, jojoba seed oil, olive fruit oil, and glycerin, best-known for their skin-moisturising properties, are some ingredients that are packed into this lightweight moisturiser too.

The Aquatect Gel also functions as four essential products in one. It’s a lightweight lotion, dirt-stripping toner, elasticity-boosting milk product, and moisture-sealing cream all at once, which means that (rejoice, if you’ve got sensitive skin because) you get to cut down on steps for a minimal, less-is-more daily skincare ritual.

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More than hydrating the skin and sealing in moisture, the Aquatect Gel also promises to fade blemishes and dark spots, reduce blackheads and whiteheads, and refine pores for a smoother, more radiant complexion.

We invited Daily Vanitys team member, Melissa, who has dehydrated and sensitive skin, to test this moisturiser over a period of one month and share her honest review, below.

Pssst! As with any other skincare product, it’s recommended that you do a patch test before applying the moisturiser to your face or body.

After cleaning the skin at your inner bicep area, apply about 1.5 to two cherry-sized amounts of the Aquatect Gel and let it dry naturally. On the second day, check that area of your skin before you take a shower to make sure that there isn’t any rash, redness, itching, or other adverse reactions to the moisturiser.

Check your skin a final time on the third day before you proceed to use the Aquatect Gel on your face.

The Aqucrio Trial Set includes the Aquatect Gel and Double Cleansing Gel in mini trial size, perfect if you don’t want to purchase the full-sized products before finding out if they’re suitable for your skin.

Shop the Aqucrio Trial Set for S$15.98 instead of S$25.98 for a limited-time only on Earthcare Asia!

We tried the Aquatect Gel for ourselves

Reviewer: Melissa, 26

Melissa’s skin condition

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I have very sensitive skin that easily gets triggered even when I wash my face or swipe a toner-soaked cotton pad over my face.

Due to my sensitive skin issues, I usually have to avoid products with thick, hard-to-absorb textures and fragrances. I also cut down on steps in my skincare routine to avoid triggering my skin.

My skin is also both dehydrated and oily. I experience tightness on my skin, especially on my cheeks and redness around my mouth, yet my face gets an oily sheen by midday.

This makes it difficult for me to find a good moisturiser for hydration as the ones that I’ve used before were either lightweight without long-lasting hydration or too thick and clogged my pores.

Aquario Aquatect Gel: Review

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The Aqucrio Aquatect Gel has a gel-like, lightweight, and non-sticky texture and felt more comfortable on my skin than all the other moisturisers that I’ve used before. When I applied it to my skin, it absorbed quickly and made my skin feel immediately moisturised.

My skin’s hydration level increased from 27.8% to 54.4% after 10 minutes of applying the Aquatect Gel.

Within two to three times of usage, I saw that my skin’s hydration levels had improved and my skin was less oily. The moisturiser helped my skin to stay hydrated throughout the day, leaving my skin feeling comfortable (and not tight) even at the end of the day. I also noticed that my skin had less of a sheen throughout the day.

Since my skin gets easily irritated, I was also happy to find that the product didn’t cause irritation to my sensitive skin or cause my acne-prone skin to break out after. I also liked that the moisturiser didn’t have any scent.

After using the Aquatect Gel on my face for just two weeks, I was surprised to find that it really helped to soothe my skin’s sensitivity. My skin was less red and I was experiencing fewer breakouts.

By the end of the month-long review period, the moisturiser even helped to fade my skin’s pigmentation slightly so that I enjoy a more even skin tone. The moisturiser has also reduced my skin’s blackheads and whiteheads, refined my pores, and given me slightly smoother skin!

Bonus? The moisturiser didn’t cause my piling or flaking for my makeup and provided a good base for my foundation to go on.

Even though this product looks unassuming with its simple packaging, it’s so effective in moisturising my sensitive, dehydrated, oily, and acne-prone skin.

As the Aquatect Gel both relieves and reduces my skin’s sensitivity, I rate it a five-out-of-five stars!

Soothe your dry and sensitive skin with the Aqucrio Aquatect Gel!

Shop here

The Aqucrio Aquatect Gel retails for S$49.98 on Earthcare Asia.

This article is brought to you by Earthcare Asia and JINNOVATION.