The Difference Between Healthy and Unhealthy Skin

Find out the four key components of healthy skin

Woman with beautiful skin
Mae Small/Stocksy United

Is your skin healthy or unhealthy? How can you tell the difference? What does healthy skin look like? Knowing the answers to these questions is the first step in determining how you should be taking care of your skin. There the four components of healthy skin: even color, smooth texture, hydration, and normal sensations. Learn more about each component in more detail, below. 

1. Even Color

Consistent color is a sign of youthful, healthy skin. Studies have shown that consistent, even skin tone is a key element of attractiveness. As a matter of fact, the consistency of skin color is considered more attractive than having a certain skin color. Unfortunately, even skin tone starts to fade with age, as accumulated sun damage starts to take hold and create age spots and other signs of unevenness. To help prevent this from occurring, wear sunscreen on exposed body parts every day. Examples of uneven skin tone include:

  • Blotchiness
  • Spots that are dark, light, or red
  • Dark under-eye circles

2. Smooth Texture

Healthy skin looks and feels smooth. If you look at healthy skin up close, the surface appears to be regularly irregular. This means that the skin is not completely smooth like glass, but has tiny peaks around hair follicles and pores, and tiny valleys in between the peaks. These peaks and valleys are consistent throughout the skin, giving it a uniform appearance. Unhealthy skin, however, does not have a uniform texture. Examples of texture-related skin problems include:

3. Hydration

Healthy skin is hydrated skin. You've probably heard that you should drink eight glasses of water a day. Drinking water is vital for good health, but you definitely don't need to be drinking eight glasses of the stuff a day.

A good rule of thumb to follow is to drink half of your body weight in fluid ounces. For example, if you weigh 130 pounds, you should try to drink at least 65 fluid ounces of water a day. This will help keep your entire body—not just your skin—in great condition.

Dead skin cells are constantly shedding away, but it's not noticeable to the naked eye. However, when the skin is dehydrated and too many skin cells shed at the same time, the skin appears visibly dry. It creates problems like:

4. Normal Sensations

If your skin is healthy, it shouldn't feel like it's there. You shouldn't notice it unless you're looking into a mirror. You shouldn't feel any unusual or uncomfortable sensations. For example, has your face ever felt dry and tight after washing it? Dryness and tightness are unusual sensations, and in that case, those sensations were triggered by a cleansing product that is too harsh for the skin.

If you notice that the skin on any part of your body feels strange, a product—like shaving cream or a body lotion—could be to blame. Signs of unhealthy skin sensations include:

  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Stinging
  • Pulling
  • Tightness
Was this page helpful?