The Difference Between Dry and Dehydrated Skin |

The Difference Between Dry and Dehydrated Skin

So how to differentiate between these two?

Posted on

12 November 2017

Last updated on 30 January 2018
The Difference Between Dry and Dehydrated Skin
As it is perceived generally, ‘dry’ and ‘dehydrated’ seem like two words to describe the same thing. But in reality, they are completely different concerns with different underlying causes.
Dry skin is a skin type, but the dehydrated skin is a condition anyone can experience. Dry skin is more of a hereditary condition. It literally means your body doesn’t produce as much sebum—so it’s something you have from when you’re born, not something you get. Dry skin has a lack of oil, or lipids. With dehydrated skin, there’s a lack of water in the stratum corneum, which is the top layer of the skin.
It is wrongly perceived that only dry skin can get dehydrated. Oily and combination skin can be dehydrated as well. 
So how to differentiate between these two?

Dry Skin Characteristics

  • Feels rough
  • Appears dry
  • Can be flaky

Dehydrated Skin Characteristics

  • Looks dull 
  • Feels tight 
  • Feels rough 
  • Is sensitive 
  • Shows fine lines
  • Shows accelerated signs of ageing, like sagging skin and deep wrinkles

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Key causes of dehydrated skin

  • Sun
When it comes to weather, in addition to wind, rain and cold, UVA in sunlight is the main factor to cause dehydrated skin. 
UVA is the main factor that can affect our skin, increase the ageing process, dehydrate it and increase free oxygen radicals in the cells, damaging the skin.
  • Hard water, hot showers & baths

As far as living in Gulf regions is concerned, of course, all of us are daily exposed to hard water. Hard water contains limestone, which can remove water from the skin. It’s alright to have a shower every day, but make it a short shower, and stick to water that’s warm rather than hot. Hot showers and baths can make the skin more dehydrated.

  • Ageing
As our skin gets older, the moisture levels in the skin fall, leading to dehydration of skin as well as other skin issues. This is because we produce less oil as we get older. Sebaceous gland activity declines with age, so skin produces less sebum. 
Dehydrated skin will have a rough-feeling texture, with fine lines becoming more prominent.
The wrong skincare
  • Air-conditioning & central heating
Air conditioning and central heating can affect the skin’s hydration. If someone spends a lot of time in air-conditioned rooms, or with the central heating turned up, these factors can contribute to loss of hydration of the skin.
  • The wrong skincare
If you’re using products that are not skin friendly, for example, some soaps and body washes are really harsh as most contain chemicals that strip skin of its natural sebum layer. Similarly, if you are not moisturizing the skin frequently, it may lead to dehydration of the skin. Over-exfoliating, applying too-harsh acne treatments, all of these can dehydrate the skin. And of course, not getting enough sleep could be taking its toll.
It’s important to get a very good moisturizer for the body, and another separate product for the face. It is prudent to always moisturize the skin after bath or washing hands.

What should you do if you have dehydrated skin?

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Reduce stress and take a good night sleep
  • To frequently apply moisturizers on the body especially after a shower (When the skin is still wet).
  • To take shower with warm rather than hot water.
  • Use sunscreen with SPF 30
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Use of hyaluronic acid creams on the face and around eyes. It’s naturally present in all human beings, and it helps prevent the effects of ageing. In dehydrated skin, it will help retain water in the skin. In fact, research shows that hyaluronic acid supplementation has a direct correlation with skin moisture and smoothness, and may even be one of the best supplements to increase suppleness in the skin
Dr. Lubna Gul

by Dr. Lubna Gul - Dermatologist