Difference Between Dry and Dehydrated Skin and How to Treat It

...but this can lead to chronic dryness and dehydration.

Although skin types are usually classified as dry, normal, oily, or combination, dehydration is not a skin type.

Dehydration is a condition that can affect all of these skin types. Dehydration differs from "dry" skin in that dehydration refers to a lack of water, whereas dryness refers to a lack of oil.

In fact, dehydrated skin can also be "oily" skin, as production of sebum is our bodies attempt to compensate for a lack of water.

It's important to know what is going on beneath the surface and then select the appropriate treatment, products, and ingredients based on the needs of your skin.


Dry skin is when you have a lack of natural oil, moisture, and lipids from your sebaceous glands. It needs protective oils to prevent moisture loss from skin. It’s our pores that determine our skin type.

When you look at skin that’s oil-dry you can hardly see the pores on the surface of the skin, which is typical of the dry skin type.

And barely visible pores are barely producing any protective oils. Definitely not enough oil to prevent moisture loss.


Dehydrated skin doesn't have enough water in it to hold onto healthy amounts of oil.

It's important to keep in mind that dehydrated skin happens on a spectrum; and is a condition that can occur with any skin type (though it’s more common in dry or aging skin) some people may be oilier than others but still dealing with a mild case of dehydration.

Both types (oil-dry and water-dry) are caused by water or moisture escaping from the top layers of the skin… ..and both types can be helped by supporting skin’s natural barrier function and replacing skin’s natural oils.


Our skin barrier performs two very important functions.

  • First, it helps our skin retain moisture by preventing water loss from deeper skin layers.
  • Second, it helps protect our skin from harsh elements like UV rays, pollutants, microbes, and chemicals.

A healthy skin barrier prevents dehydration.

Think of the skin barrier as a brick and mortar wall that prevents this moisture loss from the skin and also prevents irritants and bacteria from getting into your body through the skin.

This skin barrier (our skin’s body guard) is a hydrolipid film - a light protective film that covers our skin and it mainly consists of perspiration, water, sebum and lipids and acts to protect our skin against external aggressors such as bacteria.

The bricks are the corneocytes [protective skin cells that contain proteins and natural moisturizing factors, (NMF)] which pull in moisture.

The mortar are the lipids and are composed of ceramides; fatty acids; and cholesterol, which are natural oils surrounding the corneocytes that regulates how well the skin absorbs, locks in moisture and keeps skin supple.

Therefore, the key to healthy skin is its capacity to attract and retain moisture.


We can either be born with it or it occurs when “the bricks” become damaged or missing and are left unrepaired. The skin barrier becomes compromised, damaged and steadily breaks down.

…allowing water or moisture to escape from the top layers of the skin without the protection from the skin’s natural producing oils, we begin to lose moisture at a higher rate from the top layers of our skin.

Which can leave skin looking and feeling dry, rough and even scaly, flaky and itchy.


Dehydrated skin occurs first and foremost because the skin barrier has been damaged.

This can happen because of:

LIFESTYLE – Too much alcohol or caffeine

AGE - As skin cells get older, the cell turnover slows down significantly, and the body slows down its natural production of oils. Aging, genetics, disease, and various stressors can cause the disruption of skin's natural moisturizing factors and lipid levels.

PRODUCTS - Overly drying skin care products such as bar soaps, high-foaming cleansers, and prescription retinoids, alcohol-based toners.

The result is a damaged skin barrier that triggers a state of dehydration or transepidermal water loss (TWL) – skin moisture loss.

Here’s the kicker

Dehydrated skin can lead to an excess of oil to compensate for the lack of moisture, which is why dehydrated skin can sometimes be misinterpreted as oily skin.

Since oily skin is prone to acne, care should be taken to not over cleanse or over exfoliate as these actions can strip it of its protective oils, which continues to damage the skin barrier.

Whether it is a matter of drier oily skin, any damaged or malfunctioning protective barrier prevents skin from retaining a normal moisture level, even if water is present.

Think about what happens when water is poured into a paper cup punctured with holes.

...That is how our skin behaves when it is dry or dehydrated

Correcting and repairing this issue has two phases:

  1. relieve the dryness with water loving, water binding molecules
  2. protect the skin from further dryness with hydrating moisturizers that will keep the water inside and protective the skin from the outside.

Amaranth Gentle Cleanse

Wild Blueberry

Hyaluronic Intensive

Vitamin B Hydrating Gel

D20 Hydra Mist (use multiple times daily)

Apricot + Avocado Beauty Oil

Honey Mask (3-4 times per week)

Treating your skin right starts with knowing what type of condition you have, as well as its root cause.


Hi Anthony, There are quite a few things that may help… It might be helpful to sign up for a virtual consult, so we can understand everything that’s going on with your skin. https: //https://www.ishonest.com//pages/book-a-consult

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