What is the difference between dry and dehydrated skin?

Jun 05, 2020

In order to determine the best skincare regime for you, it’s important to determine your skin type. This way, you can select ingredients that will target your specific skin needs and concerns. While some skin types are easier to spot (my incredibly oily nose and flaky cheeks are a tell-tale sign of combination skin), some can cause a bit more confusion.

Some people with dry skin sometimes mistakingly think they have dehydrated skin, and vice versa. But the two are very different. In fact, dehydrated skin isn’t even a skin type.

“Dehydrated skin is condition that anyone can experience, but it is temporary,” explains Daniel Isaacs, Director of Research at Medik8. “Dry skin is skin type and is a long-term infliction. You don’t have to have dry skin to have dehydrated skin, the two types can often overlap.” Meaning you can even have oily skin that gets dehydrated.

What is the definition of dry skin? And how can you tell if you have it?

“Dry skin is a lack of oils or lipids in the skin, essentially the skin does not have enough moisture content,” says Issacs. “Skin can be flaky, feel rough and appear dry.”


What are the main causes of dry skin?

“Dry skin is caused by an impaired skin barrier where we have a distinct lack of lipids which we need to retain moisture,” he explains. “Without these lipids, too much water can escape and the skin barrier is compromised resulting in dry skin. The process is called transepidermal water loss (TEWL).” 

What is the definition of dehydrated skin? How can you tell if you have it?

“Dehydrated skin is lacking in moisture, this can cause a decrease in flexibility – resulting in sallow, lacklustre skin, accelerated signs of ageing like fine lines and wrinkles, uneven skin texture and tone, tightness and sensitivity,” he explains.


What are the main causes of dehydrated skin?

“Essentially dehydrated skin is when not enough water is supplied to the skin and it needs moisture replenishment,” says Isaacs. “This can be caused by many environmental factors that we come into contact with daily, including the sun, low humidity, central heating, air conditioning, or, one of the most common - not drinking enough water.”

How to treat dry skin

“Invest in skincare products containing a combination of humectants, emollients and occlusives,” says Isaacs. “Your skin needs all of these components for true moisture – commit to moisturising regularly in the morning and evening.” Isaacs also suggests making little lifestyle adjustments, such as bathing and showering in lukewarm water, rather than hot.

How to treat dehydrated skin

“The key is to stay hydrated,” says Isaacs. “An easy solution is to drink plenty of water throughout the day or add water-rich vegetables such as watermelon, cucumbers and celery into your diet.”

Isaacs also recommends looking for products that contain multi-weight hyaluronic acid and deliver long-term, all-day moisture. “Multi-weight hyaluronic acid has a unique ability to attract and retain more than 1,000 times its own weight in water as it draws moisture from the surrounding atmosphere into the skin,” he explains. “Naturally occurring in the skin, by adding more through your skincare it will help the hyaluronic acid bind to the water and retain moisture in the skin.”


* By the number of participants among exhibitions of a similar profile