Skin, Lip and Body Care

Dry or Dehydrated Skin-Which One is Affecting You?

+ CV Skinlabs Team

You look at your skin in the mirror. Something is clearly wrong. It looks dull, ashy, lifeless. You’ve been moisturizing, but obviously something is still missing.


The answer to this question may depend on whether your skin is dry or dehydrated. You may have thought these two things were the same, but they’re actually different in many ways. If you can determine which is affecting you, you have a better chance of treating it correctly, and enjoying softer, more radiant skin.

How can you do that? We’re here to help.

Difference Between Dry and Dehydrated Skin

Actually this is a really easy difference to understand, because dry skin is a skin type, while dehydrated skin can apply to any kind of skin.

If you have dry skin, you were likely born with it, and have struggled with it all your life. Dry skin lacks the natural oils, or lipids, that it needs to maintain moisture balance. In short, it lacks oil, and that tends to be a fairly permanent condition. So if you have oily skin, you probably don’t have dry skin, and if you have combination skin, you may have dry skin on your cheeks only.

Dehydrated skin, on the other hand, is skin that is lacking water in the very top layer. That means that any type of skin can be dehydrated, even oily skin.

Dehydrated skin may be caused by a number of factors, including harsh weather, skin-aggravating products, lack of regular care, and too-harsh cleansing. If you’re using products that aren’t right for your skin type, you may suffer from dehydrated skin, or if you’re using alcohol-based products or abrasive scrubs.

If you have dry skin, you’re stuck with it. Dehydrated skin, however, is a temporary condition that can strike anyone, and is easily remedied.

What Does Your Skin Need?

When trying to determine if your skin is dry or dehydrated, you first need to know your basic skin type. Are you dry, oily, or combination?

If you have dry skin:

  • You have dry skin all over your body-not just your face.
  • You often notice dryness and flaking on your skin, and perhaps even on your scalp.
  • When you put on moisturizer, your skin soaks it up fast.
  • Your skin feels rough and cracked, in general.
  • You noticed fine lines and wrinkles forming early on.

Now there’s one exception to the “you’re born with it” idea-we all tend to get dryer skin as we age. The skin loses its ability to replenish moisture, and it may become dryer in places like the cheeks and neck. Dry skin types will always notice more of this, but oily and combination types may notice more drying as they move into middle age and beyond, at least in places.

Here’s how to tell if you have dehydrated skin, instead:

  • Feels tight
  • Pores are more visible
  • Irritated or red
  • Prone to breakouts
  • Looks flat, dull and lifeless
  • Shows up more fine lines and wrinkles

In addition to the factors above, other things can cause dehydrated skin, including the changing seasons, hot showers & baths, aging, air conditioning and central heating, harsh weather, stress, sun damage, and lack of sleep.

How to Care for Dry or Dehydrated Skin

Once you know what’s going on with your skin, how do you treat it? For dry skin, try these tips:

  • Make sure all your products, including your cleansers and makeup products, are cream-based and moisturizing. Avoid foaming and sudsing cleansers.
  • Reapply moisture throughout the day as needed. Consider an easy moisturizing mist like our Rescue + Relief Spray.
  • Use moisturizers with natural botanical oils to help infuse needed oil back into the skin and restore softness. (Our Calming Moisture and Body Repair Lotion are full of these oils!)
  • Consider taking a fish oil supplement to replenish essential fatty acids that your skin is lacking from the inside out.
  • If you have combination skin, but you’re drying on the cheeks and other areas, don’t be afraid to use two different products-one on the dry areas, and another for the rest of your skin.

For dehydrated skin, try these tips:

  • Look for moisturizing ingredients that bind moisture to the skin, like hyaluronic acid.
  • Use hydrating masks to help restore moisture.
  • Check your products-get rid of those with aggravating alcohols, sulfates, fragrances, and preservatives that can dry out the surface of the skin. If you use a skin brush, make sure that it’s not too harsh for your skin. Anti-aging products with retinol and vitamin C may result in dehydration if you use them every day-try every other day instead. See how your skin responds.
  • Use a replenishing toner-not an alcohol-based, stripping toner. Try witch hazel, plant extracts, aloe, and other similar ingredients. (Our Rescue + Relief Spray works great as a toner.)
  • Avoid fragrances in your skin care products.
  • Drink plenty of water.

Do you have dry or dehydrated skin?

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