Beauty Diagnosis: Is Your Skin Dry or Dehydrated?

Beauty Diagnosis: Is Your Skin Dry or Dehydrated?

Dry skin vs. dehydrated skin: the definitions, the symptoms and the treatments



The world of beauty can be confusing. Like any specialized science, there’s plenty of terminology and technical jargon that gets thrown around. Some ingredients sound the same but are decidedly different (AHA and BHA? Squalane and squalene? The list goes on). Other words are mistakenly lumped under the same definition. Moisture and hydration, for instance, are commonly swapped like synonyms. For too long, “dry skin” and “dehydrated skin” have suffered the same fate.


Let’s set the record straight. Despite how similar they might seem, dry skin and dehydrated skin are not the same thing. 


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Dry Skin

Like oily and combination, dry is a skin type—more specifically, one that lacks oil. You can be born with dry skin or, in certain cases, develop it over time. Either way, dryness is typically a long-term concern. The deeper skin layers don’t get enough oil, which leads to itching, cracking and roughness on the surface. If you suffer from flaky patches and coarse, almost leathery texture, chances are you’re walking on the dry side.


Since dryness is brought about by a lack of oil, there are two ways to improve it: stay away from oil-stripping products, and add more moisture into your routine.


Steer clear of cleansers that leave your skin feeling tight. Remember, squeaky clean isn’t a good thing where skincare is concerned. Supplement your regimen with cream moisturizers rich in occlusives (to prevent moisture loss) and lipids (to keep the skin barrier in check). Ingredients like shea butter, lanolin, jojoba oil, beeswax, ceramides and fatty acids like Omega-3, 6 and 9 are your friends. Exfoliating weekly prior to moisturizing can also help the skin absorb nourishment more effectively. Lastly, throw a face oil in at the end of your routine to seal all the goodness from your previous steps.


Dehydrated Skin

Unlike dryness, dehydration isn’t a skin type. Rather, it’s a skin condition that anyone can experience. Yes, even those with oily skin.


Like its name suggests, dehydration pertains to the lack of water in the skin. If hydration gives skin that healthy, supple glow, the absence of it brings the exact opposite effect. Dehydrated skin looks dull, red, inflamed or in certain cases, all of the above. Because the skin lacks water to keep it plump, those suffering from dehydration are more prone to wrinkles. 


Give your skin the water it needs, from the inside and the outside. While drinking eight glasses of water a day can’t promise great skin, staying hydrated ensures that the body can perform its functions well. Curb constipation (and therefore, the chances of breaking out) by sipping ‘round the clock. Match these efforts with solid skincare solutions. Add a hydrating serum with hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5 to your routine. On especially humid days, bring some life back to the skin with a few spritzes of hydrating mist.



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Still having trouble diagnosing your skin sitch? We make it easy to understand the difference between dry skin vs. dehydrated skin with the quiz below. This quiz was designed for a quick, at-home diagnosis,but it’s always best to book a consultation with a dermatologist for targeted solutions!


Dry vs. Dehydrated: A DIY Skin Diagnosis

How does your skin feel 30 minutes after washing it, without applying your skincare?

1. Tight
2. Rough and flaky
3. Oily in select areas or around the T-zone
4. Balanced, with no tightness or excess oiliness

Pinch your cheek. Squeeze lightly for a moment before letting go. Which of the following best describes your skin?

1. My skin wrinkles slightly with pressure
2. No wrinkling, but my skin feels rough under my touch
3. My skin takes time to bounce back into shape
4. My skin bounces back into shape without a hitch

Select your top skin concern.

1. Dullness or wrinkles
2. Inflammation
3. Tightness
4. Itching or flaking

Which photo best represents your skin?

Beauty Diagnosis: Is Your Skin Dry or Dehydrated?
Beauty Diagnosis: Is Your Skin Dry or Dehydrated?
Beauty Diagnosis: Is Your Skin Dry or Dehydrated?
Beauty Diagnosis: Is Your Skin Dry or Dehydrated?

It’s the last question, so let’s be honest. Which of the following are you guilty of?

1. I forget to drink water when I’m working or binge-watching
2. I’m not critical about the ingredients in my skincare products
3. I don’t apply moisturizer religiously
4. I’m a night owl, so I never get enough sleep

All 5 questions completed!

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Dry vs. Dehydrated: A DIY Skin Diagnosis

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Art Matthew Ian Fetalver

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