Dehydrated skin often looks and feels like dry skin all over your face, but there's a major difference between the two: dehydrated skin is a skin condition lacking water (with various surprising causes) and dry skin is a skin type due to a lack of oil. Even if you have dehydrated skin, your skin may also produce a normal or even excessive amount of oil.
We have been asked about "dehydrated skin" frequently. It seems there’s a lot of confusion about what this skin concern is about. We found out that the term "dehydrated skin" is often used interchangeably with "dry skin" or "combination skin" but they are not the same! So let’s set it straight, dehydrated skin can occur in all skin types. It is not exclusive to those with dry skin or combination skin.
Once you understand how dehydrated skin differs from dry skin or combination skin, you will discover that it is easier to find the best products and come up with an appropriate skincare routine for you so you can see the smooth, glowing, plumped skin you want!
The difference between dry skin and dehydrated skin
You can easily tell if you have a dry skin type. Dry skin frequently feels tight and dry, because there is no oil on the skin. This is the skin type that you're born with and a lot of it depends on the density of oil-producing glands in your skin. This situation rarely fluctuates; skin feels dry all year long. The dryness might get worse for you depending on the climate, season, or activity, but regardless of those things, without great skincare products, your skin will continue to feel dry and uncomfortable.
Another skin type is called combination skin. You have this skin type if you have areas that are oily, usually in the T-zone (nose, chin, and centre of the forehead) while skin on the sides of the face or cheek area is dry.
As mentioned earlier, dehydrated skin can look and feel similar, but there’s a major difference: Dehydrated skin tends to come and go, it does not stay for long.
You can tell if you have dehydrated skin when it’s often accompanied by a normal to even excessive amount of oil on the skin. Despite excess oil, the skin still feels tight or dry everywhere on your face, and these signs are often accompanied by flaking. We’ve been there, so we know how you feel.
To put it simply, you could have dehydrated skin if your skin feels dry even if the outer layer is oily. Surprising fact: For many people, the skincare products they’re using might be to blame!
What causes dehydrated skin?
Although dehydrated skin can be caused by different factors, more often than not it's the result of using skincare products that contain harsh or skin-sensitising ingredients that disturb its barrier or disrupt the skin's microbiome resulting in dry flaky skin. Sometimes, using the wrong products for your skin, could lead to an imbalance and eventually develop into dehydrated skin. In essence, dehydration can be viewed as your skin showing you that it doesn’t like something you’re doing to it.
If you are using skin-aggravating ingredients like denatured alcohol (or SD alcohol), menthol, peppermint, or fragrances (synthetic or natural), you should know that these can dry out the surface of the skin and leave it feeling dehydrated. These ingredients will also stimulate excess oil production at the base of the pore, so skin ends up being oilier and more prone to developing clogged pores.
On the other hand, using abrasive scrubs or stiff-bristled cleansing brushes can also affect your skin. All of these damage the skin's surface—and we know that an intact barrier is exceedingly important to healthy-looking skin.
Improper or over usage of skincare products can create havoc as well. For example, even though an AHA or BHA exfoliant, high-strength vitamin C product, and a high concentration of retinol can have amazing benefits, for this skin type, using them every day, all together, can result in a dehydrated look and feel with excess oil on top.
This is a highly individual response, so it's important to pay close attention to how your skin responds to more potent, effective products for dehydrated skin such as those. As you try using various skin products, take the time to observe how your skin reacts to it so you know whether to continue using or not. For these types of products, once- or twice-daily use isn’t mandatory to see improvement. You need to balance your use so as not to aggravate your skin further.
How to treat dehydrated skin
Remember that when caring for dehydrated skin, you need to assess your skincare routine, and stop using harsh, sensitising products. Here are other steps you can do:
- Choose gentle and effective cleansers that don't leave skin feeling tight, dry, or greasy.
- Do not use harsh scrubs and/or rough cleansing brushes.
- Use a rehydrating toner instead of skin-stripping, alcohol- or witch hazel-based versions; remember that toners should give back, not take away from the skin.
- When applying targeted solutions or boosters, apply them on alternate days or every other day to judge how your skin does. You don’t have to use these specialised products daily to get the desired results.
- Use toners, boosters, serums, and moisturizers that are loaded with antioxidants, hydration-replenishing ingredients such as ceramides, and skin-restoring ingredients. These skin-friendly products help keep your skin healthy and smooth.
Shop highly rated skincare for dehydrated skin now!
References for this information
Clinics in Dermatology, March-April 2018, pages 109–115
World Allergy Organization Journal, August 2017, ePublication
Journal of Chemical Physics, December 2014, issue 22
Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, February 2014, issue 3, pages 158-163
Chemical Immunology and Allergy, 2012, volume 96, pages 77-80
Annals of Pharmaceutical France, May 2011, issue 3, pages, 135-141
International Journal of Cosmetic Science, February 2000, issue 1, pages 21-52
International Journal of Cosmetic Science, April 2003, issue 1-2, pages 63-95