Dry Skin Vs Dehydrated Skin: What’s The Difference?


If you’ve ever wondered whether you have dry skin or dehydrated skin, you’re not alone. Because both can cause the skin to feel dry and uncomfortable, it’s understandable that you may be confused, but there are some key differences between the two, which we’ll explain in this blog post, in addition to telling you the best way to care for each.

The difference between dry skin and dehydrated skin

Simply put, dry skin is a skin type that is due to a lack of oil, whereas dehydrated skin is a condition that develops from a lack of water. This means that individuals of all skin types – dry, combination, and oily – could potentially experience dehydrated skin at some point.

What is dry skin?

As noted above, dry skin is a skin type, rather than a condition, and a common problem that can affect people of all ages. It occurs when the skin doesn’t produce enough oil, or sebum, to keep it moisturized, which can cause it to become irritated, cracked, and in extreme cases, even bleed.

Many lotions and light moisturizers will likely soak in quickly, and you’ll need to use specially formulated products that are very rich in oils and fatty acids.

If you have dry skin, you may notice that it is:

  • Red
  • Irritated
  • Scaly or flaky
  • Cracked or bleeding

What is dehydrated skin?

Dehydrated skin is a condition characterized by a lack of water in the skin cells. It can happen to anyone and may be caused by many factors, including weather, lifestyle choices, and certain medications. If the skin is dehydrated, you’ll need to use products that contain humectants, which are ingredients that help restore levels of hydration.

If you have dehydrated skin, you may notice that it is:

  • Tight
  • Dull
  • Inflamed
  • Dark under the eyes

How to care for a dry skin type

If you’re struggling with dryness due to your skin type, you’ll need to include emollient-based skincare products in your routine that help reduces rough, flaky patches and create a softer, smoother surface.

Before you buy any kind of treatment, make sure the label states that it’s for dry or normal to dry skin, and ideally look for those that are also gentle and non-irritating. Instead of using soap to wash your skin, opt for a cleanser or facial wash which won’t be over-drying, and choose rich conditioning, deeply moisturizing cream to finish your routine.

Contrary to popular belief, people with a dry skin type can still use a toner if it doesn’t contain any strong astringents. Skincare that uses plant oils such as jojoba, avocado, and coconut are all perfect for dry skin types, and you should also look for formulas that include shea butter and vitamin E.

How to care for dehydrated skin

Dehydrated skin needs treating with water-based products, rather than oil-based, that work to restore levels of hydration. While this is important for individuals of all skin types with dehydrated skin, it is especially true if you have an oily skin type, because using oil-based treatments may lead to blemishes and breakouts. You’ll still need to opt for gentle cleansers and toners, making sure they’re formulated to rehydrate the skin, but unless you also have a dry skin type, you can use serums and creams with a lightweight texture.

Ingredients with humectant properties, meaning they attract water from the atmosphere, are essential for skin that is dehydrated, and these include honey, glycerin, aloe vera, and the amino acid, sodium PCA. However, one of the most well-known active ingredients for dehydrated skin is hyaluronic acid, which could hold 1000 times its weight in water and is clinically proven to improve skin hydration levels. For best results, choose a formula that contains two weights of hyaluronic acid molecules, as this will benefit your skin on and below the surface.

Regardless of whether your skin is dry due to skin type or dehydration, you should never use harsh brushes or scrubs and always avoid skincare that contains alcohol, parabens, artificial fragrances, and benzoyl peroxide.


While you certainly won’t be able to transform your skin overnight, knowing whether the dryness is due to your skin type or dehydration is the first step to overcoming the problem and will allow you to create the right routine with the most effective skincare products.

We hope you found this article to be informative and now, armed with your new-found knowledge, will soon be able to enjoy skin that is smooth, supple, and beautifully soft.

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