Breaking News! Dry Skin & Dehydrated Skin Are Not the Same

Most of us are familiar with dry skin. Even when the word ‘dehydrated skin’ is used, we think it is an exaggerated version of dry skin. People often confuse dry skin with dehydrated skin and believe it to be the same. Guess what? It is not. Myth busted! If you’re wondering whether your skin is as thirsty as a cactus or just in need of a drink, stick around. We’re breaking it down in the simplest terms.

So, what is the difference?

The term dry and dehydrated is used interchangeably, making it two sides of the same coin. The basic difference between the two is that dry skin is when the sebum glands do not produce enough oils to keep your skin moisturized. Dehydrated skin, on the other hand, does not have enough water in the topmost layer of the skin. 

Dehydrated skin is a condition that causes the skin to become dry due to a lack of water. Dehydration usually results from inadequate fluid for the body’s functions. It occurs when more water and fluids leave the body than enter it. With less water, the body prioritizes giving vital organs to hydration necessary for functioning. This causes the skin to become dehydrated.

Though both these skin types could cause some symptoms, there are some distinct differences in terms of appearance and treatment.

How to identify dry skin from dehydrated one?

Perform a simple pinch test which assesses skin hydration and elasticity. Lightly squeeze and pull the skin on the back of your hand or cheek with your two fingers and leave it. If your skin quickly regains its usual state, then is probably dry (as it meets the hydration levels) and not dehydrated. If it does not, the skin is perhaps dehydrated.

Another giveaway is the oil levels. Do you find yourself blotting your face every couple of hours? Well, then your skin is dehydrated. Basically, your skin is overcompensating with extra oil. But if your skin’s feeling more like a cracked desert floor, then you are battling dry skin. 

Another test is a medical type with a Corneometer. It is a non-invasive tool that determines the skin’s surface. Unlike the pinch test, a Corneometer determines skin hydration levels by using a scale.

What are the symptoms?

Dehydrated skin

Even though there’s a bit of similarity, the whole skin type and symptom game is actually quite different. Dehydrated skin doesn’t really have that bounce-back factor – it’s like the trampoline lost its springiness. In other words, it has poor elasticity. This can lead to itchiness, fine lines and wrinkles, and even lips that are so dry they start to crack. Oh, and guess what? Your nose’s inner lining might join the dryness party too.

Dry skin

Picture this: Your skin is going through a rough patch – literally. It’s feeling coarse and just can’t resist the itch. You might spot some flaky bits, it could get red and irritated and appears dull and dehydrated, Dry skin tends to come with woes like psoriasis, eczema, or dermatitis as well.


What causes dehydrated skin and dry skin?

Less water

Simple as they may sound, not drinking enough water can rob the supple texture of your skin. This is the main cause of dehydrated skin too. Dehydrated skin can also occur from excess sweating. This can happen due to over-exercising or a health condition (over sweating, diarrhoea/imbalance in internal fluids, heat).

Hormonal imbalance 

This can also lead to dry skin but the main reason is irregularities in the skin’s surface. The outer layer of the skin is also called the stratum corneum which is like a protective barrier, retains moisture, maintains temperature, and prevents harmful elements from getting into the skin. However, the same can increase if you sit in an air-conditioned room, with low humidity, from morning to evening without much exposure to fresh air.


Yet another reason can be the medication you are taking. Some medicines rob the moisture from the skin making it pale and dry. The other reason why dry skin lacks oil is excessive bathing, age, and some skin conditions such as dermatitis, chronic kidney disease or hypothyroidism. 


Can I treat it?

Yes, you can. It is the product’s ingredients that will tell you if the product is for dry skin or dehydrated skin type. If you need a clearer picture speak to your skin doctor to figure out the skin care beauty products you can use. For dehydrated skin is to apply moisturizers or face lotions which are water-based. 

As for dry skin, we all know what works. An oil-based crème moisturizer or emollient for the skin type. If you have any oil preferably coconut oil, you can use it for added moisture. 

Here are some of our suggestions that will work wonders. Remember, this is just a friendly suggestion and not a medical one.

For dry skin

For dehydrated skin

How can I prevent my skin from getting dry and dehydrated?

  • For dehydrated skin types, focus on maintaining conditions inside of the body. Whereas for dry skin types, lean more towards external factors in your beauty care regime. For those who have dehydrated skin types, simply stay hydrated. Drink enough water and don’t keep your body thirsty. You can also try and get additional hydration from electrolytes and enjoy moisture-rich foods like watermelon, cucumber, curd, tomato, and such. 
  • Where you have dry or dehydrated skin, ensure that you get your ‘beauty sleep’. 
  • Reduce caffeine as well as alcohol intake.
  • If you have a dry type of skin apply oil-based moisture. Take care to see that your skin does not crack. Cracked skin is most likely to get infected due to a polluted environment. If that happens, then apply an antibacterial cream to those areas as well as those with larger exposure. This can reduce this risk. If you are a water baby who likes to go swimming or enjoy taking long hot showers, then your key sentence is ‘reduce the frequency and the duration’. See that your shower water is lukewarm and not hot.
  • Use moisture or oil-based soaps or soaps made from natural ingredients that do not lather much.
  • You must apply moisturizers, body lotion, creme, or emollients after bathing. This is a must.

So there, the mystery is solved! You now have the ultimate guide to telling dry and dehydrated skin apart, laid out in the simplest terms. Remember, dry skin’s missing the oil, while dehydrated skin’s on a water hunt. Now you’re armed with the tools to tackle your skin head-on. So, go give your skin the hydration it craves and watch it go transform. Until next time, keep that skin smiling and stay hydrated.

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