Dry Skin vs Dehydrated Skin

“Is your skin dry or dehydrated?” “Wait. Aren’t both those things the same?” Well, not exactly. When the skin is dehydrated, that means that it is lacking water. Whereas when the skin is dry, it is lacking sebum (the natural oils that the skin produces). They may look and feel the same, but they are most certainly not.

So what is the difference?

Just like how a person could have oily, combination or normal skin, dry skin is a skin type. It is something that you’re born with, although it may alter with age and season. Dry skin can cause fewer oil producing glands over the face or body, which means that the sebaceous glands do not produce enough sebum. As a result, the skin barrier’s capability to protect against aggressors and retain moisture is compromised.

On the other hand, dehydrated skin is a skin condition, just like acne. It’s what happens to your skin, and it may happen to anybody else, temporarily or permanently, and in some cases, a skin condition can be permanent. Dehydrated skin can impact any skin type because it is related to moisture and is commonly caused by external factors. Hydration is one of the most critical components for healthy, plump skin, and fine lines and wrinkles can occasionally be caused by a lack of moisture in the skin.

Sebaceous glands in human skin.

The causes

As previously stated, dry skin is caused by a lack of oil in the skin. This is frequently attributable to genes, although it can be exacerbated by both external and internal factors.  Dryness can also be worsened by extreme temperatures. Similarly, harsh skincare treatments that rob the skin of its natural oils might result in dry skin. Lifestyle, hormones, and the natural ageing process are all variables that may contribute to dryness. Dry skin can also be caused by underlying health issues like hypothyroidism.

Dehydration is defined as your body losing more water than it is absorbing. Aside from a lack of water, this can be caused by environment, nutrition, a compromised skin barrier, a lack of water in the diet, harsh weather conditions, or excessive urine from diuretics such as alcohol and caffeine. It may also arise as a result of excessive sweating during exercise.  

The symptoms

Dry skin has been linked to skin diseases like psoriasis, eczema, and even post-acne outbreaks. These, however, are not the same as having dry skin, nor are they the same as having dehydrated skin. Although there may be some overlap, the appearance and texture of dry skin symptoms and dehydration symptoms are distinct.

The different symptoms for dry skin and dehydrated skin.


The pinch test is the most basic approach to determine whether your skin is dehydrated. Pinch and hold a little bit of skin on the back of your hand, abdomen, your cheek, or chest for a few seconds. If your skin snaps right back, your hydration levels are great! But the longer your skin takes to recover, the more hydration you need.

Hydration vs Moisture

Hydration and moisture are two separate skin care requirements. While moisturising ingredients lubricate the skin to keep water from evaporating, hydrating ingredients in skin care products draw water to the epidermis. You must hydrate and moisturise your skin if you want it to look and feel its best. If you’re hydrating and moisturising, start with hydrating substances and then take the required steps to lock that moisture in.

Preventing dry and dehydrated skin

It has always been said that prevention is better than cure, and there are good reasons for that. The majority of dehydrated skin prevention strategies focus on maintaining internal conditions within the body, whereas dry skin prevention focuses on external variables.

Dry skin may crack, making infection more likely. Among the methods for preventing dry skin are:

  • Limit your bath or shower time to 5 minutes.
  • Showering or bathing in lukewarm water rather than hot water
  • Using oil-containing natural soaps
  • Use a fragrance-free, mild cleanser

Shorten your showering time and shower with lukewarm water instead.

Keeping yourself hydrated can help avoid dehydration of the skin. Aside from drinking enough of water, a person can reduce the likelihood of dehydrated skin by doing the following:

  • Limiting their intake of alcohol and caffeine
  • Getting adequate sleep
  • Consuming food with high moisture content

Including lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet can help you stay hydrated.

How to care for dry and dehydrated skin?

Besides the methods mentioned above, there are also other methods that may help with both dry and dehydrated skin.

Exfoliate, but not too much

Exfoliating is particularly important for both dry and dehydrated skin. Dead skin cells can accumulate on the surface of your face, preventing products, particularly moisturisers, from being adequately absorbed. In order to remove that build-up and improve the effectiveness of your skin-care regimen, it is advised that you exfoliate at least once a week.

If your skin is prone to irritation, use a chemical exfoliant containing alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), such as glycolic acid. They exfoliate the skin’s upper layers while also hydrating and aiding in moisture retention. The Refining Lotion or Clarifying Toning Lotion can help you out with that.

Include a serum into your skincare routine

Consider adding a serum to your skin-care regimen before moisturising and after exfoliating. Serums are not moisturisers, and the reverse is true. They are two distinct moisture layers that are mutually exclusive. The Botanic Bio Placenta Serum is packed with humectants like butylene glycol and glycerin, that increases hydration in the skin. Remember to moisturise afterwards to lock that moisture into your skin.

Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise

Fortunately, many “moisturiser” products offer both moisturising and hydrating qualities. To get the most out of your moisturising experience, you should be aware that there are three types of moisturising ingredients that could benefit your skin: humectants, emollients, and occlusives. Each serves a particular purpose and can help you increase the hydration factor in your regimen. These moisturising substances work best when combined, which is why two or three of them are frequently found in a single formula, just like The Mighty Emulsion, Ultra Moisturising Cream, and The Satin Cream.

Humectants draw water from the environment to the skin, increasing hydration. They also pull water from the deeper layers of the skin, known as the dermis, and transport it to the skin’s uppermost layer, known as the epidermis. On the other hand, emollients replenish moisturising oils while occlusives lock in moisture to prevent moisture loss. Occlusives are also thicker in consistency compared to emollients.

Examples of humectants, emollients and occlusives.

Get a humidifier

Yes, I know. We live in Malaysia where it’s hot and super humid. But hear me out. You should invest in a humidifier especially if you work in an air-conditioned environment and then go home to sleep in an air-conditioned room. Place a humidifier in your home, maybe on your nightstand, so all that dry air won’t suck out the moisture from your skin.

Can my skin be both dry and dehydrated?

It is absolutely possible for your skin to be both dry and dehydrated. If this is the case, use products that contain the three moisturising ingredients mentioned above. If you need assistance in selecting the proper products, click on the blue chat button on the bottom right corner below. Or you can also take this quiz for your customised OLUMES routine!

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