What Does Dehydrated Skin Look Like: Dry vs Dehydrated Skin

Dry or dehydrated skin, both have one thing in common: they look dry. They are so similar that it requires some extra effort to understand how does a dehydrated skin actually look like? Or whether you have dry or dehydrated skin? That’s why today I am going to share the lessons I learnt from my own journey of finding out the difference between dry and dehydrated skin and my nifty tips on how to fix it.

Dehydrated skin is a condition which can occur to any skin type. It looks a lot like dry skin cause of the dull and rough appearance. However a dehydrated skin looks more tight and has prominent under eye darkness. It is also much more sensitive.

I realized I have a dehydrated skin when I noticed my face is shining with oil (!) right after I woke up. While sleeping my skin kept losing water due to the indoor environment. As a result the skin was over-producing oil to compensate for the lack of moisture in it.

If you are still unsure, you can do the popular dehydration skin test…

Cleanse your face and pinch your cheek with 2 fingers for 2 seconds. Then leave it. The faster your skin bounces, the better hydrated your skin is. Another telltale sign of a dehydrated skin is no matter how much you moisturize, it will always look dull and lifeless.

Dry vs Dehydrated Skin

Dry skin is a skin type, which is purely genetic. When skin can not produce enough oil naturally, dry skin occurs. On the other hand, dehydration is a skin condition which is caused by moisture loss.

Normally our skin tries to maintain its hydration level with the help of a protective barrier in the outermost layer. However, due to the effect of external factors such as stress, sun or aging, skin loses its ability to prevent water loss. Which results in dehydrated skin.

Any skin type can experience dehydration. So it is possible that you can have a dry and dehydrated skin at the same time.

dry skin vs dehydrated skin
The difference between dry and dehydrated skin

What causes dehydrated skin?

  • Stress: Due to stress the dead cell layer of the skin becomes thin and develops microscopic holes. As a result the skin leaks water and becomes dehydrated.
  • Hot shower: Taking long hot showers might make your body relaxed but it is not good for your skin. Hot water damages the outer layer of the skin as a result it can not lock the moisture anymore. Which results in dehydrated skin.
  • UV rays: Like hot water, UV rays also make stratum corneum or outer most layer of skin thinner, making skin more dry and dehydrated.
  • Aging: The outer layer of skin is made of NMF or natural moisturizing factors. These includes natural humectants and moisturizers which keep our skin hydrated, As we age, the NMF contents starts reducing leading the skin dehydrated.
  • Too many harsh products: Using skin care products that contains alcohol or fragrance can make your skin dry. Also using too many active ingredients which are not compatible with each other (for example using AHAs and BHAs together) can do more harm than good.
  • Indoor A/C or heater: Constant exposure to Air conditioning and heater make your skin dry and lifeless. Of course these make our life comfortable but decrease the humidity level of the air in your house, resulting in a dehydrated skin.
  • Lack of sleep: Sleep deprivation reduces the natural moisture content and damages the skin’s natural protection barrier. Beauty sleep is not a myth!

How to fix deyhdrated skin?

Unlike dry skin, there are several ways to fix a dehydrated skin. A dehydrated skin loses water cause of a damaged protective barrier which is unable to hold up the moisture.

So to make your skin hydrated you have to consider:

  • Repairing your skin’s protective barrier so that it keeps the moisture content in your skin intact and
  • Changing lifestyle and
  • Choosing the right product

Repairing the skin’s barrier to lock the moisture

Our skin has it owns hydrating agents. These are sealed with a shield which is known as skin’s protective barrier. When this barrier is damaged the skin undergoes a moisture loss.

A damaged skin protective barrier is like a pot drainer. Doesn’t matter how much water you have in it, it leaks.

On top of that, a compromised barrier makes the skin more reactive to UV, pollution and harsh chemicals. In simple words it makes your skin more sensitive.

Thus if you are looking ways to fix a dehydrated skin, repairing the skin’s barrier should be your first step.

But how to repair your dehydrated skin’s barrier?

  • Use a gentle cleanser always. Cleansers which contains alcohol or other harsh ingredients might irritate your skin’s barrier more, leading to a dehydrated skin.
  • Always use a serum in your damp face before the moisturizer. Look for serums which contains Hyaluronic acid, Ceramide or Niacinamide as they are gentle and prevents further damage.
  • Start using facial oils. Oils which are full of antioxidants are great for skin restoration and can replace the depleted skin lipids.
  • Use sunscreen, ALWAYS! When the barrier is disturbed, skin is more affected by the UV rays. Which causes more barrier damage.
  • Spend some bucks on a good moisturizing night cream/overnight mask. I know a lot of people skip this but usually day creams are more lightweight and can not provide the exact nourishment your skin requires while sleeping.
  • Hydrate, hydrate and hydrate! It’s so obvious. Like your body, your skin also needs proper hydration to fight against the barrier damage. Go for all means of hydration, starting from hydrating mist to hydrating sheet masks. Give it all!
you can fix dehydrated skin with serums
Adding a serum in your skin care routine works well to repair the skin’s barrier. Photo by Shiny Diamond from Pexels

Changing lifestyle

Improper lifestyle is one of the major reasons behind dehydrated skin. Staying up late, not eating proper diet, using too hot water and keeping the A/C or heater high are some of them. If you are suffering from dehydrated skin, try to have adequate sleep and include balanced diets, specially diets rich in Omega-3.

Not to forget, always use lukewarm water while washing your face. And keep the temperature in your room moderate.

girl is following proper lifestyle
A proper lifestyle with balanced diet can fix dehydrated skin. Photo by Nathan Cowley from Pexels

Choosing the right products

As dehydration is just a state of the skin, by using the right skin care products it can be managed.

Consider using moisturizers and serums that contain humectants. Now what are humectants? They moisture the upper layer of skin by attracting moisture from the deeper layers. Humectants also attract moisture from the surrounding to the top most layer of the skin, thus better for dehydrated skin. Some of the most used humectants in skin care industry today are hyaluronic acid, honey, glycerol etc.

right skin care products for dehydrated skin
The right skin care products will help you to fight with dehydrated skin. Photo by Jess @ Harper Sunday from Pexels

In addition to that, choose a night cream which is heavy weight. Due to the heated air exposure whole night, skin keeps losing the water naturally. Thus using a heavy moisturizer or an overnight mask will slow the moisture loss.

To wrap up…

Though dehydrated skin looks a lot like dry skin, they are not the same. The good news is dehydrated skin can be prevented with proper lifestyle, knowledge and skin care products. Whilst with dry skin you don’t have much options rather than taking proper care of it.

Want to learn more?

Are you wondering who am I to share these tips with you? You can check out my about section to learn a little more abut me. 

If you have dehydrated skin like me, you can check my review about CeraVe moisturizer which is one of the bests for dehydrated skin here

Follow me on FacebookInstagram and Pinterest to stay updated on the socials!


    1. Post
    1. Post
    1. Post
    1. Post
    1. Post
  1. Soundarya

    A very detailed and nicely articulated article. Thank you so much for information.
    Waiting for your tips on skin care routine apart from face.

    Would be nice to hear your thoughts on same.

    1. Post
    1. Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *