Skin can be complicated.
While you may think you have dry skin, you might actually be dealing with dehydrated skin. No, they're not the same.
If you want to get the most out of your skin, it's worth getting familiar with the differences so you can distinguish which one of the two you have. This way, you can incorporate the best skincare products to get a softer, silkier complexion in a flash.
Here, we distinguish the differences, causes, and best treatment options (with product recommendations!).
Dry skin is a skin type. It refers to a lack of oils or lipids in the skin that results in flaking, roughness, and overall dryness.
"Dry skin is caused by an impaired skin barrier where we have a distinct lack of lipids which we need to retain moisture," explains Daniel Isaacs, Director of Research at Medik8. "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)."
The dry skin type also suffers with issues like dullness. That's because it lacks the oil that gives other skin types their radiance. Because the skin lacks oil, it can appear dull, rough, scaly, and in some cases, irritated.
Dehydrated skin, conversely, means your skin lacks water, not oil. It can happen to any skin type that is essentially dehydrated. You'll know you're dealing with dehydrated skin if your complexion looks slack and lacks a firm texture. Because dehydrated skin is lacking in moisture, it can also result in accelerated signs of aging like fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging.
According to dermatologist Roberta Del Campo, "It fluctuates with the seasons and can actually even fluctuate day to day." However, it appears more frequently in colder climates with a lower humidity.
"One simple test to tell if your skin is dehydrated is a pinch test," says Del Campo. "This is when you pinch the skin and let go. If it doesn’t bounce back immediately, your skin is dehydrated."
If you're wondering what is the difference between dry skin and dehydrated skin, it's this: dry skin is a skin type that signifies a lack of oil in the skin, while dehydrated skin is a skin concern or skin condition that implies your skin has a significantly low water content.
They're also caused by different things, and require different treatments.
Dry skin is a sign that your skin has low oil production, resulting in overall dryness. As it's a skin type, some people are just born with it and need to find the best skincare routine to work with it.
In some cases, however, certain things can trigger dry skin, such as harsh cleansers and exfoliating products, hot showers, and certain oral medications.
On a positive note, dry skin isn't hard to treat. Provided that you invest in a few moisturizing products and drop some of those dryness-triggering habits, you can get your complexion smooth and glowing in no time!
"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 moisturizing regularly in the morning and evening."
With dry skin, your main goal is keeping it hydrated. Choose hydrating skincare products that contain ingredients like ceramides and hyaluronic acid which seal in hydration and strengthen the skin's protective moisture barrier.
What's more, avoid harsh scrubs, cleansers, and toners, which tend to remove the skin’s natural oil, worsening symptoms of dryness.
The Best Dry Skin Skincare Routine
It comes complete with a facial mist, facial serum, facial cream, and lip balm loaded with nourishing ingredients that hydrate and soothe the skin, including shea butter, hyaluronic acid, coconut, vegan collagen, glycerin, and aloe.
These products are also effective for combination skin and sensitive skin.
Failed the pinch test? Don't worry, you don't have to live with dehydrated skin forever. It's actually quite easy to fix once you adopt a few lifestyle changes and switch up your skincare regimen.
Primarily, you're looking to restore hydration to skin. You can do this by avoiding long, hot showers, investing in a humidifier to add moisture to the air, and dropping harsh products from your routine.
Another easy solution is to drink more water. Since dehydrated skin is skin with a lack of water, hydration is crucial! Staying hydrated from the inside really can impact how your skin appears on the outside. So drink up, and feast on water-rich veggies like cucumbers, watermelon, and celery.
As far as skin products go, look out for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, which can attract and retain more than 1,000 times its own weight in water. It's the ultimate skincare ingredient for dehydrated skin. Look out for it in moisturizers, lotions, and serums.
The Best Dehydrated Skin Skincare Routine
Featuring a face cream, eye cream, and facial serum, this bundle promises flawless skin with regular use. Each product in the kit is formulated with hyaluronic acid to feed the skin cells with enough water to glow and plump out fine lines.
The facial serum also contains willow bark extract, which helps minimize the appearance of pores, clear excess sebum, and diminish breakouts.
Eye Candy Anti-Puff Eye Cream utilizes sea kelp, which helps drive out discoloration.
Once you identify exactly what your skin is lacking, it's much easier to treat it and restore a flawless, smooth to the touch complexion.
In the meantime, make sure you keep your skin happy by dropping those negative, skin-drying or dehydrating habits in replacement of positive habits and nourishing skincare products.