In recent months, I noticed my skin changing. It has become more sensitive and I feel a certain tightness (help!). I start to flush with pink at the merest exposure to the sun. I have also become prone to spots.

At almost 50, these changes could well be related to the onset of menopause. But it bothered me sufficiently for me to take myself off to a Harley Street dermatologist for a battery of scans and blood tests. Part of me thought I was nuts to be spending all this money for a non-problem, but I am a firm believer in understanding what’s going on within oneself, no shortcuts (i.e. reading beauty magazine tips are not going to help my specific problems).

So with much eye-rolling, my partner drove me to Harley Street (“You look FINE, Jac!”)

First thing I learned from the dermatologist that I did not previously know – to my great embarrassment – was that there was a huge difference between dry skin and dehydrated skin.

Dry skin has a lack of oil, or lipids. With dehydrated skin, there’s a lack of water in the stratum corneum, which is the top layer of the skin.

My skin was dehydrated, not dry. My fish-rich and nuts-rich diet provides sufficient oils, I guess.  Thus, slathering tons of extra virgin, organic coconut oil on my skin served no purpose other than to give me spots and acne (blocking my pores).

Ha! Dehydration! My partner and I have been having some vicious rows about my “obsession” with drinking water. He feels that I am obsessed with consuming huge amounts because of my paranoia rather than actual need: during my radiotherapy I had felt incredibly thirsty no matter now much water I consumed and that feeling never quite went away. So this could be a very likely cause.

What did the dermatologist suggest? He gave me a map of my face. I have combination skin, meaning that despite the overall dehydration, I have pockets of dryness that needed oil. But how do I get water into the stratum corneum?

Skincare for dehydrated skin:

  1.  Drink plenty of water. Aha! Ammo to whack back at my partner.
  2. Do not wash face too often – water in certain places such as London is hard water.
  3. Air-conditioning and central heating.
  4. Use the right skincare for dehydrated skin, namely, one that contains hyaluronic acid, which is naturally found in the body. It helps retain water in the skin.
  5. Use serums rather than cream.
  6. Medication.

I would strongly advocate you seek professional advice if you have any concerns about the condition of your skin. If we can just read what others write and self-diagnose, the dermatology profession would have been defunct, right?

And as I was preparing to leave, the rather charming dermatologist said to me with a twinkle in his eye, “No, you are not menopausal, just thirsty.”

“Worst possible outcome,” said my partner with a sigh.

Main photo: looking rather pink.