Dry Vs Dehydrated Skin; How to Tell the Difference

dry vs dehydrated skin

People often confuse dehydrated skin and dry skin as the same thing. In some cases, they fail to tell whether their skin is dry or dehydrated and end up wondering if it needs moisturizer or water. 

Dehydrated and dry skin are two different skin conditions where the former means your skin is lacking water and the latter usually means your skin is lacking natural oils. 

Let’s dive deeper into dry vs dehydrated skin to tell the difference between both and how you can treat them for good.  

Dry Or Dehydrated Skin ﹘ How To Know? 

Dry skin occurs when your skin lacks moisture or oil to keep it feeling soft and flexible. If you have dry skin, you may have rough-feeling patches that look scaly. It may or may not be itchy, however, in severe cases, it may crack or bleed.

You may have dry skin if you experience the following symptoms

  • Skin feels tight
  • Rough or itchy skin
  • Thin, fragile skin
  • Flaky skin
  • Redness and irritation
  • Small, fine wrinkles

Unlike dry skin which happens due to a lack of sebum or natural oils, dehydrated skin lacks water. It is a temporary skin condition that can occur in all skin types, even oily ones. The dehydrated skin feels itchy, especially after washing, and has scales. This is usually a temporary state where your body starts to lose water, and people often confuse it with a “dry” skin type.

You may have dehydrated skin if it shows the following signs:

  • Redness
  • Skin that feels tight and uncomfortable – even after moisturizing
  • Congestion 
  • Inflammation
  • An oily, shiny complexion
  • Fine lines and wrinkles are more visible 
  • Shadows around the face 
  • Dry and cracked lips 
  • Dullness 

Severe dehydration may also lead to: 

  • Dry mouth 
  • Dizziness and faintness 
  • Overall weakness 
  • Less frequent and darker urination 

Both dehydrated and dry skin can also be affected by other factors such as environment, diet, and daily habits. For instance, in winters when the temperature is cold and harsh winds blow, the skin easily gets dry and dehydrated than usual. The same happens if you use skincare products that contain harsh ingredients or you excessively expose your skin to the sun. 

How to Treat Dry Skin

  • Add multivitamins to your diet because vitamin B, C, D, and E, and collagen can help manage symptoms of dry skin. 
  • If you have dry skin, try to use cold water and limit bath time. Taking long warm-water baths removes natural oils from the skin. Bath not more than once a day and do not extend it more than 5-10 minutes. 
  • Try to use a shower gel or non-soap cleansing cream for baths or showers. People with dry skin should avoid pumice stones and loofahs
  • Use Coconut oil as its emollient properties fill the spaces between skin cells and create a smooth surface. The saturated fatty acids in coconut oil can hydrate and smoothen the skin.
  • Do not use exfoliating brushes or tools on your dry skin. Although these methods are popular for sloughing off dead skin cells, they can also cause rough, red, and dry skin.
  • Apply a quality moisturizer several times a day, especially after washing your hand and face or when your skin feels dry. 
  • Use sunscreen to protect the skin against damage from UV rays.
  • Wear soft fabric that allows your skin to breathe, such as cotton. Avoid wool as it sometimes irritates the skin.
  • Use a humidifier in winters to add moisture to your home and protect from flaky and itchy skin. 

How to Treat Dehydrated Skin 

  • Use a good quality hydrating moisturizer that soothes and replenishes the skin. Use products with powerful nourishing ingredients or natural foods like avocados and olive oil to help retain skin moisture.
  • Drink plenty of water and eat water-rich food such as citrus fruits, patches, strawberries, cucumbers, watermelon, etc. 
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol as they reduce the skin’s water content, which leads to skin tightness and dehydration.
  • Exercise regularly and drink water during and after the workout 
  • Get enough high-quality sleep your body undergoes multiple processes during sleep, and it also helps circadian rhythm to manage the fluid levels of the body. 

Can You Have Both Dry and Dehydrated Skin? 

Where dry and dehydrated skin has distinctive characteristics, you can have both at the same time. As a matter of fact, dry skin is more vulnerable to dehydration because natural oils in our skin are important for water retention. Reduced levels of natural oils can lead to fluid deficiency in the body.

Following the above steps for treating dry skin and dehydrated skin can ensure you have a significant amount of water and oil to help your skin recover quickly. 


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