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  5. Dry vs Dehydrated Skin - Differences, Causes and Treatments

Are you one of those who thought dry and dehydrated skin are synonyms? Sorry, we are here to burst your bubble.

Oil and water repel! Just like they are two completely different things, dry skin and dehydrated skin are also poles apart, though used quite synonymously.

Dry skin is a skin type, read oily, normal or combination skin. On the other hand, dehydrated skin can happen to anybody. It is a skin condition. Let us go in depth about the differences between dry and dehydrated skin.

Difference Between Dry Skin And Dehydrated Skin

Dry Skin Means A Lack Of Oil

Your skin contains tiny pores, under which lie the sebaceous glands. Sebaceous glands produce an oil called sebum that is necessary for healthy and supple skin. Genes, your age and hormones can play a major role in determining the amount of oil that your skin produces.

If your sebaceous gland activity isn’t as high as it is supposed to be, your skin will produce less oil, making your skin feel dry and irritated.

Dehydrated Skin Means Lack Of Moisture

Just like your body, your skin may feel dehydrated at times. This happens due to a lack of water in the topmost layer of your skin.

Your skin is coated with a protective layer that traps in moisture and prevents loss of water. It also helps in preventing other environmental aggressors from penetrating through the layers of your skin. However, a number of factors like harsh chemicals, scrubbing and using the wrong skincare products may majorly contribute to the eradication of your skin barrier.

When this barrier gets damaged, your skin loses the moisture trapped by its protective layer. This may result in skin dehydration.

Symptoms Of Dry Skin

  • May feel rough and flaky
  • Appears dry
  • Dry patches

Symptoms Of Dehydrated Skin

  • Premature signs of aging
  • Feels tight and irritated
  • Appears dull
  • Can be sensitive

Did You Know?

Another way of determining if you have dry or dehydrated skin is the ‘pinch test’.

  • Pinch a small area of your skin at the back of your hand. You can even try this on your cheek, abdomen or chest.
  • If your skin bounces back immediately, it is probably well-hydrated.
  • If it takes a while to bounce back to its normal shape, it is probably dehydrated.

What Can Cause Dry Skin?

1. Age

As you age, the oil production in your skin gradually decreases. This can cause your skin to get dry and feel rough.

2. Allergies And Other Medical Conditions

High cholesterol, high blood pressure, certain allergies and other conditions may contribute to a change in your skin type.

3. Certain Medications

Oral and topical medications for certain skin conditions like acne can result in dry and rough skin.

4. Genes

If your immediate family members have dry skin, you’re likely to have it too.

5. Hot Showers And The Wrong Skin Care Products

Hot showers and harsh chemicals used in skincare products can strip away your skin’s natural oils, making it dry and irritated.

What Causes Dehydrated Skin?

1. Sun

Just as UV rays can dehydrate your body, they can dehydrate your skin as well. UV rays majorly contribute to the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles in your skin. They can damage your skin and cause it to feel and appear dehydrated as well.

2. Hot Showers

Most of us are quite adapted to bathing in hot water. However, hot water can strip away moisture from your skin. This can cause it to feel dehydrated.

3. Less Intake Of Water

If you consume very less water, your skin also doesn’t receive the amount of hydration it requires. This can cause dehydrated skin.

4. Air Conditioning

Remaining in air conditioned rooms for too long can lead to a lack of moisture in your skin, making it dehydrated. This is due to the absence of moisture in the surrounding air.

How Can You Soothe Dry Skin?

A number of conditions are associated with dry skin, including psoriasis, eczema and dermatitis. Talk to your dermatologist about the possible treatments for these dry skin conditions. We have listed down the treatment options that can work only if you don’t have any serious skin conditions.

1. Add Essential Oils To Your Skincare Routine

Essential oils can help alleviate dryness and soothe your skin. This will keep your skin soft and supple.

2. Invest In Moisturizers

 Woman apply moisturizer with happy face

Moisturizers add emollients to your skin that can relieve it from feeling itchy and dry.

3. Avoid Taking Hot And Long Showers

Your skin may lose out on its natural oils if you take hot showers. Try bathing in lukewarm water. Avoid taking showers for too long.

How Can You Treat Dehydrated Skin?

1. Hydrate Your Skin And Body By Consuming Enough Water

Woman showing glass of water

You ideally must be drinking 2-3 litres of water every day. The organs of your body require an adequate amount of water to function properly. This includes your skin. Your skin is the largest organ of your body and requires a good amount of water to stay healthy and hydrated.

2. Invest In A Moisturizer With Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid is found in large amounts in your skin. It has water-binding properties that help retain your skin’s moisture levels, keeping it soft and supple (1). As you age, the content of this acid decreases. Exposure to UV rays over the years may also contribute to its reduction in your skin (2).

Moisturizers and serums containing hyaluronic acid are effective in increasing the water content in your skin. This helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles and dull skin (3).


Consuming hyaluronic acid supplements may prevent the reduction of it in your skin. A study conducted on a group of adults showed that taking 120-240 mg of these supplements significantly increased skin moisture levels. (4)

3. Avoid The Use Of Harsh Skincare Products

Use a mild cleanser on your skin to prevent moisture loss. pH-balancing cleansers do a good job of keeping your skin barrier intact.

4. Avoid Scrubbing Too Hard

Exfoliating is a great way of removing dead skin cells. But this is not recommended for everyday use. Exfoliating your skin too often or too hard may eradicate your skin barrier, damaging it permanently.

5. Avoid Staying In The Shower For Too Long

We’ve all been victims of this. Taking hot showers everyday can considerably affect and damage your skin barrier. This will cause your skin to lose its moisture content and make it feel dry and irritated. Try not to stand under the hot shower for too long. Bathing in lukewarm water is recommended.

6. Apply Sunscreen Everyday

Apply sunscreen to your skin whenever you step out in the day. Purchase a broad-spectrum sunscreen to prevent UVA and UVB rays from reaching down through the layers of your skin and causing damage.

Wrapping Up

Dry skin occurs due to low oil content in your skin. While dehydrated skin is the result of low water content. Dehydrated skin can be prevented and treated by taking hyaluronic acid supplements or applying it to your skin topically. Avoid taking hot showers, using harsh skin care products and make it a point to apply sunscreen every time you step-out in the day.

Begin By Knowing Your Skin

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