skin care concerns

Derm Diaries: Is There a Difference Between Dry Skin and Dehydrated Skin?

A dermatologist breaks it down.
September 21, 2022
Dry Vs Dehydrated Skin


It’s no secret that the skin care world can leave you with lots of questions — and given that we all have unique skin concerns, it makes sense. But perhaps one of the most commonly asked skin care questions is: What’s the difference between dry and dehydrated skin? 

If you’ve heard these terms thrown around before and you’re unsure what they mean or if they differ, keep reading because we tapped Dr. Flor Mayoral, L'Oréal Paris consulting dermatologist, to share what you need to know about dry skin versus dehydrated skin.


How Is Dry Skin Different From Dehydrated Skin?

Dry skin and dehydrated skin are both skin conditions, but they differ. Understanding those differences is helpful in assessing how best to care for what your skin needs. According to Mayoral, dry skin lacks oils — sebum — that naturally occur in the skin and is a genetic condition. She explains that there are also several conditions that are characterized by dry skin, including eczema, ichthyosis vulgaris (often associated with eczema), seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis.

Dehydrated skin on the other hand, is skin that’s missing water and is a temporary condition.


How Can You Tell If You Have Dry Skin or Dehydrated Skin?

People often confuse dry and dehydrated skin because their symptoms can be similar. However, if you’re experiencing dehydrated skin — which Mayoral says is brought on by losing more water than you’re taking in — then you’ll notice your skin becoming itchy and dull. 

“[When the skin is dehydrated] Turgor [elasticity] decreases, and the skin doesn’t bounce back as quickly as it normally does when you pinch it,” says Dr. Mayoral. “You may also feel lightheaded or dizzy – and may experience dry mouth and decreased urination.”

If you have a dry skin type, then you likely experience scaliness and white flakes. Mayoral also notes that it’s common for people with dry skin to “find redness and irritation in small patches on the body.”


What Causes Dry and Dehydrated Skin?

As we explained, dehydrated skin is caused by a lack of efficient water supply in the body, which happens when someone doesn’t drink enough water. Dry skin however, is genetic, but according to Mayoral can also be made worse by extreme weather conditions and pollution.


How Can You Improve Dry Skin?

If you’ve determined that you have dry skin, Mayoral recommends showering in lukewarm water and limiting the time to five to ten minutes. She also recommends applying creams to the skin immediately after showering to trap in moisture. 

In addition, she suggests using products in your skin care routine that contain moisturizing ingredients, such as glycerin, lactic acid, hyaluronic acid, mineral oil, petrolatum, shea butter, dimethicone and jojoba oil. 

Lastly, Mayoral says that certain lifestyle changes — like hypoallergenic laundry detergent, avoiding extreme temperatures, and using a humidifier while sleeping — can make an improvement in your dry skin.


How Can You Improve Dehydrated Skin?

If you’re experiencing dehydrated skin, there are many ways to improve your condition. “Drink small sips of water throughout the day – rehydration is a slow process; it does not happen immediately,” says Mayoral. According to the Mayo Clinic, the proper amount of daily water intake for women is around 11.5 cups, while men should be drinking roughly 15.5 cups of water daily. 

As for other lifestyle changes that can improve your dehydrated skin, Mayoral suggests eating water-rich veggies and fruits, cutting down on caffeine and alcohol intake, not smoking, getting regular exercise, and ensuring you’re getting good quality sleep.


Next: How to Keep Chapped Lips In Your Rearview

Written by: Alyssa Kaplan, Photo Design: Crystal Simone

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