What is the difference between dry and dehydrated skin?

Tiff’s Summary:

  • Dry skin is a skin type – caused by genetics or external aggressors- dry skin lacks oil.
  • Dehydrated skin is a condition- caused by external factors- dehydrated skin lacks water.

What is the difference between dry and dehydrated skin?

Dry and dehydrated. They’re phrases that seem to go hand-in-hand- and most of us tend to categorise them as the same thing. However, if you’re in that party of thinking turns out you’re missing a trick. In fact, skin can be both oily and dehydrated. Or dry and hydrated.

Confused? Don’t be. Read on for the details on the difference between dry or dehydrated skin and tips to getting your complexion back to its healthy self.

How to tell if my skin is dry or dehydrated

Dehydrated skin is a condition where your skin lacks water
This can be the result of not drinking enough water or a range of external factors like, heating or air conditioning or exposure to the sun and/or cold temperatures. The most common causes are weather, environment, diet, and caffeine, all of which can result in diminished water content within the skin. Anyone and everyone, no matter their skin type can suffer from skin dehydration.

A good (but weird) test is to gently pinch your cheek. If the skin wrinkles instead holding its shape, your skin cells are parched for water aka dehydrated. Dehydrated skin will feel tight, look dull, and you may notice exaggerated wrinkles, or ones in places you don't remember having them (shudder), along with more noticeable dark circles beneath your eyes (eek!). Common signs are also redness, tightness and inflammation. (please no more.)

Dry skin is a skin type where your skin lacks natural oils. 
Dry skin lacks oil because it produces less sebum than ‘normal’ skin. A lack of sebum (aka natural oil) means your skin is without the essential lipids it needs to retain moisture and build strong barriers to protect against external aggressors. Often down to genetics but worsened by external factors, signs that your skin is dry are itchiness, flakiness, redness and ashy skin (that last one mostly experienced by those with darker complexions).

Symptoms of dehydrated skin

Dawn Elixir

  • Looks dull 
  • Feels tight 
  • Is sensitive 
  • Shows fine lines and other accelerated signs of ageing

Symptoms of dry skin

  • Rough texture
  • Itchiness
  • Looks dry and feels dry to touch.
  • Flakiness

What causes dehydrated skin?

  1. Sun

You may have thought wind, rain and cold were the major causes of dehydrated skin when it comes to weather, but in fact UVA in sunlight is the one to watch. UVA is the main factor that can affect our skin by accelerating the ageing process, increasing oxidants in the skin, dehydrating it and increasing damaging free radicals in the cells. (You’ve heard it a million times folks but… SPF!)

  1. Hard water, hot showers and baths

It’s the limestone in hard water which gives us all the grief. Not only bad for your hair it can also remove water from the skin. We don’t expect you to go round stinking the place up- it’s still ok to wash every day, but make it a short shower, and stick to water that’s warm rather than from-the-pipes-of-hell-hot since hot showers and baths are also dehydrating.

  1. Ageing (here we go again, another sign we’re getting old.)

As you get older so does your skin, meaning you may find it more difficult to keep moisture levels high. The ageing process makes our bodies more dehydrated in general but that also includes the skin, slowing down cell turnover.

  1. Air-conditioning & Central heating

Turning up the heat on your morning drive to work? Air-con blasting in the office from 9-5? While air con and heating can make temps more bearable, they could be doing more harm than good since both are factors in further dehydrating skin.

What to do if you have dehydrated skin

That hefty list you just read sent you into panic? Fear not- it’s almost all down to lifestyle choices. The main thing is easy- drink plenty of water and support that with a healthy diet to feed skin from the inside out. Dehydrated skin will also benefit from avoiding alcohol and smoking and you’ll also want to avoid external aggressors like the sun or harsh cold weather. Think about wrapping a scarf around your face when you venture outside in the winter and always- did you hear us? - always wear SPF. You might also want to consider a humidifier in your office or at home to keep the air adequately humid, so skin doesn’t release moisture to the air.

Up next- use top quality ingredients to re-infuse parched skin with the moisture it needs. Products with moisture-binding ingredients like hyaluronic acid and collagen are an ice-cold drink and a blast of fresh air on a crowded summer tube to dehydrated skin.  Follow with a hydrating oil to really lock in that moisture and re-hydrate. Think about using a heavier moisturiser and night oil in the evenings to give skin that extra boost of hydration that can work its magic as skin recovers at night. 

What causes dry skin?

Okay- what about dry skin though? I have flakiness and itchiness that just hasn’t been addressed and I want rid! Well, there is no single cause of dry skin and there’s a combination of factors that contribute to the dryness. Usually however, causes can be classified as external and internal.

Internal factors include overall health, age, genetics, family history, and a personal history of other medical conditions. Whereas external factors are the easiest to address. These are similar to the external factors that cause dehydrated skin and include:

  • Over-washing with harsh soaps or cleansers
  • Overuse of sanitizers and lipid solvents e.g. alcohol-based products or astringents
  • Cold or hot temperatures
  • Age
  • Low Humidity

What to do if you have dry skin

  • Limit your shower time to 10 minutes: using warm rather than hot water. Hot water can dry your skin out by removing naturally occurring oils.
  • Be gentle: wash your face with a gentle cleanser that avoids harsh ingredients that could dry out skin further. Again, avoid using water that’s too hot.
  • Cover up: exposure to cold weather and exposure to sun can make dry skin worse. Use SPF and keep your face protected from hash winters or extreme cold.
  • Add moisture: use a rich moisturiser and lock it in with a hydrating face oil. Look out for products that contain rich oils and lipids to really infuse skin with the essential hydrators it’s naturally missing.

Skincare for dry or dehydrated skin

It’s pretty simple- hydration, hydration, hydration! Start with a gentle non-stripping cleanser and a rich moisturiser. Not quite cutting it? We love face oils for dry or dehydrated skin. Enter the Scientia Dawn and Dusk Oils….

     Scientia Dusk and Dawn Elixirs

For the morning

You might not rise at dawn tweeting with the birds and watching the sun come up over the trees. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from our Dawn Elixir. Light and silky but deeply hydrating, we blended together 23 unique natural oils to create this nourishing goodness. With ginger and pink pepper seed essential oils it’ll also give your mind a little pep up as it hydrates dry or dehydrated skin.

In the evening

Calm your mind and your skin with our Dusk Elixir. This active oil blend is brimming with the highest levels of essential fatty acids and anti-inflammatory antioxidants to replenish exhausted skin and enhance repair and recovery while you snooze. With notes of Lavender, Neroli and Frankincense take a deep breath in before applying this nourishing saviour to centre your mind before soothing your skin.

 And that's it! Now you know if your skin is dry, dehydrated or both... and how to address it properly. Until next time #secretseekers...