Dehydrated or Dry Skin? Let Dermatologists Tell You


Dehydrated and dry skin may sound interchangeable, but there’s actually a difference between these two skin types! Many people do not realize the difference and hence use the wrong products for their skin. Both dry and dehydrated skin have very similar signs: dull, itchy, or tight and flaky skin,.

However, it takes a bit more nuance and further checks to know whether your skin is dry or dehydrated. Simply using any moisturizer will not work, you need to target the specific condition to treat dry skin or dehydrated skin! The ingredients in different moisturizers work differently depending on your skin’s condition.

Water is a very crucial part of our life. Hydration doesn’t just apply to the skin, and we are often told that we need to stay hydrated. Hydration is so important for our bodies to function healthily and normally, and that’s because 60% of our bodies are made up of water! H2O is such an important element for us to even be alive.

Likewise, hydrating the skin is also crucial to keeping it healthy, firm, and fresh! But hydration isn’t enough for some. Some might find it difficult to retain water content in the cells, and that is where moisturizing comes in for extremely dehydrated skin! Moisturizing helps to prevent water from escaping the skin, hence creating a barrier and a seal to keep the moisture in. This is key as we need to know whether it is hydrating or moisturizing that our skin needs in order to get the right products! Another important factor to consider is oil on your skin.

Sebum might get a bad rep, but we actually need sebum to keep the skin moisturized and smooth. Overproduction of sebum is what leads to oily skin, thus requiring oily face treatment, but a lack of sebum is also what results in dry skin!

Let’s go through what dry and dehydrated skin is, how to tell which your skin is, and the appropriate products for you to use!

What is dry skin?

Dry skin is a type of skin that doesn’t really have to do with water, but rather oil. People with dry skin lack oil and lipids, not just on their faces but likely all over the body as well. Extremely dry skin is genetic and depends very much on the oil glands in your skin. The skin all over the body has a dry and flaky look, and some other common issues you might see are a scaly appearance, white flakes of dry skin, some form of redness and irritation, and even other skin conditions like eczema or sensitive skin. Sometimes, the facial signs of aging like fine lines include dryness as well.

How Do I Soothe Dry Skin?

Dry skin has the potential to be very painful and sensitive. Treating it will involve both skincare (usually anti aging skin care) and general lifestyle habit switches. Here are some dermatologically-approved methods to treat your dry skin: 

1. Apply your moisturizer right after showering or washing your face.

Moisturizers work by sealing existing moisture in your skin. Since you need some moisture and water in order for the moisturizer to lock it in, apply it right after you wash your face or take a bath. This allows the moisturizer to work more effectively and efficiently when there is some water to trap. This is also effective when you want to address how to prevent wrinkles or a damaged skin barrier.

2. Look for the right ingredients.

You want to look out for moisturizers that contain ingredients that are occlusives and emollients. These ingredients are great for penetrating the skin and adding some much-needed moisture. Ingredients include Jojoba oil, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, lactic acid, lanolin, mineral oil, petrolatum, and shea butter.

3. On that note, AVOID…

Alpha-hydroxy acids and retinoids. While it addresses hormonal acne causes and dead skin cells, it’s not going to benefit dry skin. This might make you a little upset because these are super popular anti-aging products, but sadly these products are likely to dry your skin out even more, leading to face rash and other manifestations.. So avoid them if you want your skin to be more moisturized!

Woman holding Face Cream

What is dehydrated skin?

Dehydrated skin is different because it involves a lack of water in the skin cells rather than a lack of oil. Unlike dry skin, it is not a skin type and can occur to anyone regardless of skin type. Dehydrated skin can occur if you are not properly hydrated, and is not caused by genetics. You can tell if your skin is dehydrated if there is itchiness, dullness, or sunken under the eyes. A simple pinch test can also tell you if you have dehydrated skin. Pinch the area under your cheek and see if it bounces back, or if it wrinkles. If it wrinkles and does not bounce back your skin is likely dehydrated. One of the honey on face benefits is addressing dehydrated skin to some extent.

How to treat dehydrated skin?

Dehydrated skin is thankfully daily easy to treat with some targeted approaches. It can be treated by both products and lifestyle changes.

1. Drink a minimum of 8 glasses of water a day

Following this is a general rule for staying healthy. Hydration does not just include your skin, it includes hydrating your entire body to stay generally healthy and functioning well. You will definitely see an improvement in your skin complexion when you start drinking more water.

2. Add a hydrating serum to your skincare regimen

Dehydrated skin needs an extra drink of water to inject more moisture content into the skin cells. Some of the most effective products are serums which are potent for delivering added hydration to the skin. Look for a serum with hyaluronic acid. The skin naturally produces hyaluronic acid but boosting it with a serum will help stimulate the natural production of hyaluronic acid.

Hyaluronic acid in turn also helps get rid of hyperpigmentation. It will be additionally beneficial to find products with antioxidant properties and skin-restoring properties, basically to boost the oxygenation and other functions of the skin that delivers nutrients.

3. Avoid all alcohol

Alcohol has a very dehydrating effect on the skin, so limiting your consumption will probably be wise. If you have woken up the next day with dry and dull-looking skin, that is the dehydrating effect that alcohol has. But it doesn’t stop with just drinking alcohol, avoid products that contain alcohol as well as they often have very stripping effects on the skin.


There is a difference between dry and dehydrated skin and knowing the difference is key to treating your skin properly. Having a good understanding of the effects that different ingredients have will ensure your skin gets the proper hydration and nutrients it needs to be smooth, supple, and in its best condition!

Stay tuned for more of our skin care topics, such as home remedies for puffy eyes, how to prevent premature aging, and others.

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