Everything You Need to Know About Dry vs. Dehydrated Skin, and How to Treat Both!

“Dry” and “Dehydrated” skin may appear like two different ways of describing the same issue, but the truth is they are actually two completely different problems that can affect your skin in very different ways.
How can you tell if your skin is dry or dehydrated
What’s the difference between dry and dehydrated skin?

Simply put, dry skin is a skin type that is generally lacking natural oil production, or the lipids needed to retain moisture and build a protective layer against external influences. There are four main classifications for skin types: normal, dry, combination, and oily. You are usually born with your skin type, but it can change with changes in age and season. When you have dry skin, your sebaceous glands are simply not producing enough natural oils.

Dehydration simply means that your body is losing more water than it is taking in, so dehydrated skin just means there is a lack of water in the top layer of the skin (stratum corneum).

If your skin is dry and flaky, it doesn’t mean it is also dehydrated, and excessively oily skin can also still be dehydrated.

The first step to healing your skin is identifying if it is dry or dehydrated
So, how can you tell if your skin is dry or dehydrated? Here are some of the most common characteristics.
Characteristics of Dry Skin:
  • Has a rough and scaly texture
  • More visible lines
  • Red patches
  • Less elastic
  • Pores are difficult to nearly impossible to see
  • Flakey

Dry skin can crack, peel, become itchy, irritated, or inflamed. If it is very dry, it can become rough and scaly, this often occurs on the backs of your hands, arms, and legs.

Characteristics of Dehydrated Skin:
  • Often appears dull
  • Feels tight and has a rough texture
  • Dark under-eye circles and sunken eyes
  • Is sensitive
  • Clearly shows fine lines and surface wrinkles
  • Shows accelerated signs of aging (sagging and deep wrinkles)

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, and the following, you might be severely dehydrated:

  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Faintness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Feeling general weakness
  • Dark and infrequent urination

Seek professional help and contact your doctor immediately if symptoms of severe dehydration don’t improve.

What causes Dry Skin & How Do I treat it?

Dry skin is a skin type that some people experience, but there are also external factors that can worsen dry skin such as:

  • Aging or hormonal changes
  • Weather such as cold, wind, and sun
  • Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from tanning beds or the sun
  • Indoor Heating
  • Long, hot baths or showers
  • Aggravating ingredients in soaps, cosmetics, and other cleansers.
Dry skin is a skin type, not a condition

Some tips to helping dry skin:

  • Use mild, gentle soaps. Avoid soaps that are heavily scented or deodorant soaps
  • Take shorter showers or baths, and no more than once a day
  • Avoid scrubbing while bathing, and gently pat dry with a towel
  • Use a moisturizer after bathing and reapply as needed throughout the day
  • Use a humidifier while indoors, and be mindful of indoor temperature
  • Wear gloves while washing dishes, and while using cleaning products
  • Wear protective clothing when the weather is cold or windy.
Pat dry after showering to avoid aggravating your skin

What causes Dehydrated Skin & How Do I treat it?

Dehydrated skin is a skin condition that is caused by external elements (such as weather and seasonal changes), unhealthy diet (lack of fresh product and too many processed foods), and lifestyle choices (such as excessive alcohol and caffeine). All of these factors affect your skin and deplete the water content of your skin. Remember, dehydrated skin is characterized by a lack of water – so even oily skin can be dehydrated! To recap:

  • Dehydrated skin is a temporary condition
  • Caused by external factors and lifestyle choices
  • Poor or inadequate water retention
  • Lack of proper hydration
  • Can be improved with better skincare and lifestyle changes

Some tips to helping dehydrated skin:

Remember, in order to improve your dehydrated skin you will have to address both your skincare routine and lifestyle.

Drink more water

Staying hydrated throughout the entire day is a must. According to The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, adequate daily fluid intake is about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) for men and roughly 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) a day for women.

Regular hydration is the first step to improving your skin and general wellness

Wash with a Sensitive Cleanser & Lukewarm Water

Look for a cleanser that is free from harsh chemical additives and artificial scents. These can strip the skin of moisture and aggravate sensitive areas. Find an organic or gentle product that works for your skin and your budget.

Finding the right cleanser is the first step to improving your skincare routine

Consider an Essence

This beauty staple optimizes hydration, replenishes moisture, and protects your skin against the drying effects of environmental irritants. Facial essences are packed with deeply hydrating and antioxidant-rich ingredients that work wonders for dehydrated skin.

Add a Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Hyaluronic acid is great for replenishing dehydrated skin, as it is a humectant (A humectant is a hygroscopic substance used to keep things moist) hyaluronic acid helps retain moisture, keeping skin soft and giving it a full healthy appearance. Think of this acid as a magnet for moisture, that serves to help your cells retain as much water as possible – so that your skin feels and appears hydrated, plump, and healthy!

Consider an Omega-3 Supplement

Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to have numerous benefits when it comes to boosting hydration as well as helping clear up skin redness and improving dehydrated (and dry) skin. Adding a high-quality omega-3 supplement is a good way to help optimize your body for regular hydration.

Omega-3 is crucial for proper hydration

Avoid Caffeine & Alcohol

Caffeine and alcohol are two of the worst offenders when it comes to dehydrated skin. Both substances are diuretics (A diuretic is any substance that promotes diuresis, the increased production of urine) that compromise your skin’s health by depleting its water content. Alcohol is even worse than caffeine because it hinders the production of vasopressin (a hormone that is essential for rehydration). If you are like most people and enjoy a cup of coffee before you head out the door in the morning, and a glass of wine at night with your dinner. Fear not: The general consensus is that one to two cups of coffee per day and a glass of alcohol in the evening is totally fine, and healthy. Remember, excessive consumption of these substances is when the damage starts to occur.

There are other things to keep in mind when it comes to your skin, check out this article on how to keep your skin young and radiant!

We hope this article helped shed light on the differences between dry and dehydrated skin. Let us know what you think, or if you have any tips of your own in the comments below! Want to learn more about healthy skin?

Check out this article: Is your skin trying to tell you something?