Is your skin dry or dehydrated? (Here's why you need to know the difference)


To make sure you are choosing the right products and methods for your skin type, you need to understand the difference between dry and dehydrated skin.

You may think that ‘dry’ and ‘dehydrated’ skin is the same - but you couldn’t be more wrong! They are two completely different skin problems - one caused by a lack of moisture (oil), and the other caused by dehydration (water).

Still sounds the same? We understand - the concept can be a little tricky to get your head around. So, we’ve put together a short guide to help you find out whether your skin is dry or dehydrated, plus some tips and tricks on how you can prevent and combat the issues.

Perhaps the more important thing to understand, is that dry skin is a skin type, and is the way your skin naturally behaves. Dehydration is a temporary skin condition - when something has affected your skin. Consequently, your skin has lost its ability to retain moisture until the problem is fixed. Since dehydrated skin is a skin condition, any skin type can become affected.

How can I tell if my skin is dry or dehydrated?

Dry skin (or alipidic) is largely down to genetics.

Put simply, dry skin doesn’t produce enough oil or sebum. This means that the skin won’t be able to hold enough moisture in. Without oil, most of the moisture in the skin evaporates.

If your skin is dry, your skin may appear rough and flaky, and have a feeling of tightness after washing, or even throughout the day. Dry skin can be tricky when it comes to applying make-up - which can sometimes be difficult to blend into flaky skin. Unfortunately, dry skin can also make wrinkles appear more pronounced. You may also feel that your skin has a tendency to look dull due to a lack of shine or ‘glow’.

Dehydrated skin is caused by other factors damaging your skin, and is not due to genetics.

Any skin type, even oily skin, can be dehydrated. Dehydration is caused by a lack of water in your skin - even though you may still be producing enough oil.

If your skin is dehydrated, your skin might feel tight and dry after washing, but becomes oily and shiny throughout the day. You may also suffer from large pores, blackheads, and breakouts around the T-zone. In dehydrated skin, you may notice that products are absorbed quickly by the skin - resulting in products being used up quicker than they were before.

Now that you understand the difference between dry and dehydrated skin, it’s essential to know how to keep symptoms at bay and improve the appearance of your skin. Luckily, dry skin can be managed well and dehydrated skin can be completely alleviated with the right preventative steps and care - so there’s no need to worry!

Managing dry skin

If you suspect you have dry skin, you have a lack of moisture (or lipid) content in your skin - so it’s best to make sure you are using skincare with ultra moisturising properties.

Use moisturisers which contain emollients. Emollients provide a protective base layer which can help prevent your skin from losing moisture. Key ingredients to look out for include shea butter, ceramides, sunflower seed oil, and cetyl alcohol. This step will actually help you to prevent your dry skin, rather than having to treat it.

If you’re experiencing flakey, rough textured skin then opt for a gentle exfoliating scrub. This will help remove the flakiness on the surface of your skin and promote cell renewal. As well as this, make sure to avoid any form of harsh products - stick to gentle washes to avoid stripping your skin of what little moisture it may have.

One of the best steps you can make to improve dry skin is to use oils. Oils are able to penetrate deeper into the skin than lotions or gels and provide deeper, longer lasting hydration. Coconut oil and jojoba are particularly effective ingredients to use in order to treat your dry skin.

Managing dehydrated skin

Unlike dry skin, which is unavoidable due to genetics, dehydrated skin is caused by external factors. Therefore, it make sense to combat the problems which could be causing it in the first place.

Excessive exposure to the sun can cause water to evaporate from the skin, causing it to become dehydrated and suffer from sensitivity, redness and itching. So making sure to use an SPF on a daily basis could be a key factor in improving your skin. Not only will your skin thank you now, but it will thank you later - the sun can age your skin dramatically.

It could help to cut down on your consumption of caffeinated drinks and alcohol. These two substances are called diuretics. This means an excess in either substance causes an individual to urinate more often - which then leads to water depletion. This can take its toll on your whole body, and is often a leading factor in dehydrated skin. Just cutting down slightly and replacing with an increased consumption of water could dramatically improve your skin's condition.

Another common cause of dehydrated skin is using overly harsh products which strip the skin of moisture. This can have unwanted side effects on all skin types - including acne. People with oilier skin types sometimes gravitate towards strong washes and abrasive scrubs, which strip the skin of all it’s natural oils. The skin then overcompensates to combat the dehydration by producing more sebum - which ironically leads to oilier skin, blocked pores and spots. It’s a good idea to throw away all those chemical-ridden washes and opt for something gentle.

It’s important to remember to moisturise regularly. Don’t be tempted to skip moisturiser if your skin tends to get oily later in the day - as we mentioned before, by skipping moisturiser you may actually make the problem worse when your skin works overtime to moisturise itself.


Learning the difference between dry and dehydrated skin will help you begin to combat your skin troubles. Follow our handy tips and tricks, and we’re sure your skin will be glowing, soft and hydrated in no time. 

Affinity Organics