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 Dry skin vs Dehydrated skin: how to recognise the difference

Dry skin vs Dehydrated skin: how to recognise the difference


7 minute read

With the change in seasons, have you begun to experience a sense of tightness in your skin? Has your skin suddenly become extremely dry? A common misconception in the beauty world is that dehydrated and dry skin are the same thing. Though both have similar triggers and symptoms, the treatment for dry and dehydrated skin is very different. Dehydrated skin can appear dry, but it is not the same as having a dry skin type. Our essential guide defines dry and dehydrated skin, examines their triggers, differences and offers practical suggestions on how you can manage them. 

What is dry skin?

 

Dry skin is a skin type that lacks oil. Dry skin is not a temporary condition, but rather widely considered a skin type. Dry skin occurs when your skin does not produce enough sebum, your skin’s natural moisturiser. Without enough sebum, skin feels tight, itchy and flaky. Itching is the most common symptom of dry skin. The key aspect in assessing dry skin is examining the texture. This makes skin appear rough, scaly and cracked. 

What are the triggers of dry skin?

 

Potential causes of dry skin include:

 

  • Genetics: Many people inherit certain skin conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis, that can cause dry skin.

  • Age: Due to natural skin changes, older adults are more prone to dry skin. As we age, oil and sweat glands dry up, resulting in thinner skin: skin loses its natural fat and elasticity. 

  • Health conditions: Some illnesses, including diabetes and kidney issues, can cause dry, itchy skin.

  • Climate: People living in dry environments are more prone to dry skin because there is less humidity in the air.

 

What is dehydrated skin?  

Dehydrated skin lacks water. 

Dehydrated skin occurs when your skin is parched for moisture. Think about the last time you drank water to clear a scratchy throat: the same is needed to cure your dehydrated skin. Your skin is simply thirsty. Dehydrated skin isn't necessarily a skin type but rather, a skin condition. This means that it is not a fixed state and is therefore treatable. This skin condition can happen to anyone, even those with oily skin. Dehydrated skin occurs when the protective moisture barrier of your skin becomes damaged. This is the barrier of the skin that is responsible for keeping moisture in. This barrier can become stripped away, which leads to the skin losing moisture at a rapid rate. Water disperses through the skin’s layers, resulting in dry patches. 

 

What triggers dehydrated skin?

Some of the major contributors to parched skin include: 

  • Over-washing or over-exfoliating the skin. 

  • Lifestyle-related (lack of sleep, smoking, binge drinking, poor diet, not drinking enough water) 

  • Environmental conditions (air conditioning, central heating, space heaters) 

  • Weather conditions (unprotected sun exposure, harsh cold weather) 

The difference between dry skin and dehydrated skin: how to assess your skin

The difference between dry skin and dehydrated skin is that while dehydrated skin lacks water, dry skin lacks oil (or sebum). 

 

Dehydrated skin looks dull in the mirror and feels tight. You may detect more exaggerated wrinkles in places that you do not remember having them. You may also notice more exaggerated dark circles underneath your eyes. Look for redness, inflammation and congested skin. 

 

On the other hand, dry skin is typically flaky, rough and itchy. The sensitive and affected areas are generally around the mouth, nose, eyebrows, neck, thighs and insides of the arms. 

 

DIY Pinch Test: Start off by pinching your skin (try your cheek, abdomen or arm) for a few seconds. If your skin snaps back into place, your skin is likely hydrated. However, if it takes more than a second for your skin to flatten and smooth back to normal, your skin cells are thirsty.   

How to manage your dry skin

The first step in managing your dry skin is understanding you need to replace the oils that your dry skin does not naturally make itself. A key step in managing your dry skin is skin moisturisers. Moisturisers rehydrate the top layer of skin cells and seal in the moisture to reduce TEWL (TransEpidermal Water Loss). When used regularly, moisturisers containing omega fatty acids, hyaluronic acid, antioxidants and aquaporins, are highly effective in attracting moisture to the skin. Choose a moisturiser that contains at least one of those ingredients.



The key is to avoid any harsh treatment of your skin and try to avoid scratching your skin. Most of the time, a good moisturiser (such as our Active Rosehip Day Cream) can help support a healthy skin barrier which in turn can help to alleviate some of the discomfort that comes with dry skin.

 

Minimise your use of drying skincare; steer clear of foaming cleansers, deodorant soaps, perfumed soaps and alcohol products, which can strip away natural oils. Adding a rich, nourishing facial cleansing oil to your skincare routine will also help you to manage your dry skin. Oil-based cleansers will inject moisture as it cleans. Look out for skincare ingredients with natural botanical oils. Our Absolute Cleansing Oil works with the skin to help balance the sebum levels. It contains watermelon seed oil, a light, non-greasy formula. This non-comedogenic oil delivers nourishing moisture without clogging the pores. 

cleansing dry skin

When our skin is dry and raw, even clothes and laundry detergent can be irritating. By avoiding fabric softeners and instead opting for fragrance-free laundry detergents, (look out for products labelled “hypoallergenic”) you are reducing the irritants that may cause your skin to become even more sensitive. Be mindful of rough fabrics that may trigger your skin. Wearing clothing made of soft fabrics such as cotton or silk will be less abrasive than rougher fabrics like wool and bamboo. 

 

Eating water-rich foods such as celery, strawberries, cucumber and watermelon will also help nurture dry skin. Taking a fish oil supplement rich with omega-3 fatty acids such as krill oil will significantly increase moisture from the inside out. 



How to manage your dehydrated skin  

When it comes to managing and treating your dehydrated skin, the first aspect to consider is moisture content. Ask yourself: am I drinking enough water each day? You don’t need to be chugging water every second of the day, but you should aim to drink eight glasses of water daily. 

 

Dehydration means thirsty skin. Another significant ingredient to quench your skin’s thirst is hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a powerful humectant known to hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water. Our Active Rosehip Day Cream, is packed with hyaluronic acid, which helps the skin to retain moisture leaving you with soft and supple skin. 

dehydrated skin

Paying attention to the ingredients in your skincare products is also an essential step in combating your dehydrated skin. Adding a nourishing serum to your skincare routine can also help to pack moisture into your skin. Serums work to support the skin’s natural protective barrier by restoring moisture to the skin at every level. Our 24Hr Rosehip Face Serum is a mega hydrator and can be used all over your face and neck, both morning and evening. Key ingredients to note in our serum are rosehip oil, sea buckthorn and aloe vera extracts that themselves have been shown to help improve cell regeneration.

Check out our latest super saver offer below combing our two favourites; our Award Winning Absolute Cleansing Oil and our Rosehip Face Serum.

Have you tried some of our dehydrated / dry skincare tips? We want to hear from you! Send us a message on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook

 

For more skincare advice, visit our blog here

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