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Dry vs Dehydrated Skin: The Big Difference and How To Treat Both

If your skin is tight, uncomfortable, flaky, or just plain dry…

It’s easy to assume you have “dry” skin – but is it actually dehydrated instead? Dry vs dehydrated skin matters because there is a difference between the two.

Anyone can suffer from dehydrated skin, and it needs to be repaired in order to look, feel, and just be better. Because properly hydrated skin is beautiful skin. 

So how do you determine dry vs dehydrated skin, and what is the treatment? Read on!

Dry vs Dehydrated Skin with Elephants

Dry vs Dehydrated Skin: What’s The Difference?

The difference comes down to one thing: oil vs water.

What Is Dry Skin:

Dry skin lacks oil production. If you have a dry skin “type” you will have small, refined (often invisible) pores.

Your skin produces less oil, which means it can often feel tight and look dry especially if it’s not taken care of. You will need more moisturizing products – heavier creams, non-stripping cleansers, oils etc.

What Is Dehydrated Skin:

Dehydrated skin, on the other hand, lacks water. Anyone can have dehydrated skin, even if it is super oily!

In fact, it’s very common to have oily, breakout prone, even a heavy acne with dehydrated skin

Which unfortunately just makes all the above worse.

Even if your skin is otherwise clear or normal – dehydrated skin is uncomfortable. It looks dull, can be flaky, and ages faster (more fine lines and wrinkles, ugh!)

The good news? You can treat it!

Here is how to repair the “water” content of your skin – and how to prevent it from becoming dehydrated again.

Hydrated, healthy, glowing skin is yours!

How To Treat Dehydrated Skin

One of the most important goals is stopping the moisture from escaping…

There are a few common causes for dehydrated skin that can be dealt with (details below):

  • The environment: the outside weather (dry air, the sun, cold winter). Or inside – heaters, air conditioning, bad air in the office… All can suck the moisture from your skin and make it dehydrated
  • Internal – alcohol is a huge cause! You might notice this the day after having just one or two drinks. Your skin might look dull, puffy, and just feel uncomfortable and “looser”. This is because the water content is down, and this is what usually gives you that plump healthy look
  • The wrong products – or not using them correctly. This could be products like benzoyl peroxide that really dry your skin out. It could be from cleansing a lot and not using an adequate moisturizer, this leaves the skin stripped and exposed to loosing it’s water content
  • A damaged skin barrier – whether it’s caused by products or the environment, or even an illness, if your skins acid mantle is damaged or non existent you will have dehydrated, irritated skin. It is vital that you repair this. How-to below…

HOW TO Repair the Environment: Vaseline and Humidifiers, oh my!

Sometimes your skin just loses moisture from the surface. This is surprisingly common at night time – especially if you sleep with heat or cool air on.

An easy way to prevent this is by applying a thin layer of Vaseline or Aquaphor over your moisturizer at night.

This helps create a barrier between your skin and the air, preventing the moisture from being evaporated from your skin. It’s a very simple treatment but it works.

One of the best tips for dehydrated skin:

  • Use a humidifier! Really – you can buy small cute ones now that look great on (or under) your desk at work. A quiet one in the bedroom can also help you wake up with less fine lines. You literally wake up looking younger

HOW TO Repair the Internal: “Drink More Water”, and other tips

The myth of drink more water – while it it important to stay hydrated from the inside.

There is only so much it can do! If you are drinking enough to stay healthily hydrated, don’t worry about trying to increase your water intake unless you truly want to.

Better tips:

  • Drinking alcohol has a serious impact on your skin, it is almost impossible to get it to look its best if you drink too much. However, this is not a judgement, if you don’t want to cut down at least increase your water content to compensate. Also consider going at least 3 days without it just to notice the difference in your skin!
  • A supplement like Biotin, known as the beauty vitamin, can help to strengthen your skin. If a skin cell has a strong healthy barrier, it is better able to keep vital moisture inside.

The Right Products To Treat Dehydrated Skin

It may sounds counterintuitive, but exfoliation is very important here.

Usually, there is a layer of dead dry skin cells on the surface of your skin. This is why it looks dull and may even be heavily clogged despite the dryness.

Chemical exfoliation with Glycolic Acid is the perfect treatment – this dissolves the “glue” between the cells and sloughs them off.

Your skin looks better instantly as it is brighter and clearer, and following products are then able to penetrate deeper where they can actually work! (There is no longer a layer of dead skin cells creating a barrier).

HOW TO Rebuild Your Skins Barrier To Prevent Dehydration

If your skin is irritated or red as well as dehydrated, the barrier may be compromised. It is important to repair this to prevent damage and just make you feel more comfortable.

The best product for this is Dermalogica’s Barrier Repair. This is a silicone gel that melts into skin and lets it heal.