Dry vs. Dehydrated Skin: How to Tell the Difference

Dry vs. Dehydrated Skin: How to Tell the Difference

It’s safe to say that we’ve all dealt with patches of dry skin at some point in our lives. Some of us are seasoned experts in dry skin—that is, if your skin type is classified as dry, you certainly have plenty of experience with this issue. Others have spent less time struggling with dry spots. Perhaps they deal with the occasional bout of dryness during the colder seasons, but nothing much else beyond that. 

Well, no matter how often you notice skin dryness crop up, it’s very likely that you’re familiar with that feeling. And yet, this common skin condition often gets confused with another condition—dehydration. Indeed, these two issues are separate from one another. Each has its own distinctive set of symptoms, causes, and treatments.

Today, we’re here to discuss everything there is to know about both dry and dehydrated skin. In order to treat each of these conditions properly, it’s important to be sufficiently educated on the subject. That’s why we’ve put together a short, all-inclusive guide to the dry vs. dehydrated discourse.

Hopefully, this article will help you determine exactly what’s going on with your precious skin. Continue reading for the comprehensive rundown on this fascinating topic.

What Is Dry Skin? 

Let’s start with a basic concept: what exactly is dry skin? You probably know what it feels and looks like, but what causes it?

Here’s our simple explanation. Dry skin is typically characterized by a few key symptoms and signs. It may feel tight, particularly after showering, bathing, or swimming. It might also look or feel rough and itchy. Moreover, you might notice flaking, scaling, peeling, or fine lines. Finally, dry skin might appear gray, ashy, or red. 

Dry skin may be caused by a few different factors. Firstly, it might be environmental. This means external factors, like the weather (dry, low temperatures) or the heat in your house (from central heat, stoves, or space heaters that reduce humidity), dry out the skin. Likewise, activities like taking a hot bath or using harsh soaps might trigger dryness.

On the other hand, some people fall under the dry skin type. If you have this skin type, it means that your skin naturally produces less sebum than the balanced skin type. As a result, your skin may exhibit some or all of the symptoms mentioned above. Moreover, your skin will likely be more sensitive to those external factors that cause dryness.

See Real Customer Results

We’ve helped thousands of women fade dark marks, acne scars, and achieve glowing skin!

What Is Dehydrated Skin?

Moving on, let’s discuss the less common term at hand—dehydrated skin. This skin condition is completely different from dry skin, and here’s why. While dry skin comes from a lack of oil, dehydrated skin results from a lack of water.

What causes the lack of water, though? That’s a great question. Like dry skin, there are many reasons that your skin might become dehydrated, including your diet, environment, or even your lifestyle. Essentially, anything that causes your body to lose more water than it’s taking in may lead to dehydrated skin.

The symptoms of dehydrated skin look quite similar to those of dry skin. For example, dehydrated skin may entail itchiness, skin dullness, or sensitive fine lines and wrinkles.

Is Your Skin Dry or Dehydrated? 

So, all of this new information probably has you asking an important question: how can you tell if your skin is dehydrated or just dry? Well, here’s our best tip—try the pinch test.

The pinch test goes a little something like this. First, simply pinch a small area of skin on your chest, cheek, abdomen, or the back of your hand. Hold that skin for a few seconds, and then release. 

Pay attention to how your skin reacts after this gentle pinch. If your skin immediately snaps back to normal, it’s quite likely that what you’re experiencing is dry skin. However, if your skin takes a few seconds to return to its normal state, it’s probably dehydrated. Feel free to repeat this test on other areas of your body for the most accurate results.

This simple yet effective test should help you understand the state of your skin. However, if you’re still unsure about the dry versus dehydrated debate, you may want to visit a dermatologist for a professional assessment (especially if your symptoms are severe).

The Best Treatments for Both Skin Issues 

Hopefully, you now have the tools to determine if your skin is dehydrated or simply dry. Now, let’s get into the action items that matter the most—how to care for both dehydrated and dry skin.

Read on for our best tips for both of these conditions.

Dry Skin Remedies

First things first: dry skin. Remember, dry skin is mainly characterized by a lack of oil. For this reason, ingredients that help replenish your skin’s supply of oil will give you that boost of moisture you need.

These are a few of the top ingredients for soothing dry skin:

  • Nut or seed oil (for example, coconut, almond, or hemp oil)
  • Shea butter
  • Mineral oil
  • Plant oils, such as squalene, jojoba, rose hip, or tea tree oil
  • Hyaluronic acid

  • All of these ingredients should help your skin gain and retain moisture. When it comes to dry skin, one of the major keys is to keep up a consistent routine—in other words, be sure to consistently moisturize each and every day.

    Dehydrated Skin Remedies 

    Next up, we’ve got dehydrated skin. While treating dry skin is mostly about choosing the right products and ingredients, caring for dehydrated skin comes with an extra layer to consider—your diet and water intake. So, let’s get into it.

    First of all, there are a few skincare ingredients that are particularly well-suited to treating dehydrated skin. These include:

  • Aloe vera (which happens to be great for treating sun damage, too)
  • Glycerin
  • Lactic acid
  • Citric acid
  • Hyaluronic acid (yes, it also works for dehydrated skin)

  • By incorporating these ingredients into your skincare routine, you can help save your skin from dehydration. However, you should also consider a few lifestyle changes to ensure your skin is always well-hydrated.

    First, you should always be sure to drink enough water. Keeping your body hydrated will help every part of you stay healthy, including your skin. Likewise, adding foods that are high in water content to your diet will certainly boost your overall hydration. Foods like watermelon, strawberries, cucumber, and celery will do the trick just fine.

    Dealing with dehydrated skin is never fun, but it’s also not the end of the world. Hopefully, these tips will keep your skin looking and feeling better than ever.


    Final Comments on Dry vs. Dehydrated Skin 

    By now, you should be an expert on the subject of dry versus dehydrated skin. Next time you’re dealing with itchy, scaly, or rough patches of skin, you’ll know exactly how to proceed.

    Finally, we should note that one of our favorite ways to instantly improve a patch of dry skin is to use a soothing, hydrating face mask. Our Vitamin C Clay Mask is packed with superfood ingredients (like aloe vera) that’ll leave your skin feeling as good as new. Try it out—you won’t be disappointed!


    Dry skin - Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic

    Dry vs. Dehydrated Skin: How to Tell the Difference — Experts | Allure

    Dry vs. Dehydrated Skin: 8 Traits to Help You Tell the Difference | Healthline

    Dark Marks or Acne Scars?

    This 10-minute mask fades dark marks & acne scars while brightening + preventing future breakouts.

    Back to blog