In skincare, we often talk about dehydrated skin and dry skin. The two terms sound so similar, it’s easy to mistakenly assume they’re synonyms. But the fact is that dehydrated skin is a very different condition from dry skin. In fact, many people who think they have dry skin actually have dehydrated skin. So what’s the difference between dehydrated skin vs. dry skin?
What is Dry Skin?
Dry skin, also known as xerosis or xeroderma, is skin that doesn’t produce enough sebum. While we often think of sebum as an acne-causing enemy, your skin’s natural oils are a crucial part of the skin’s natural moisturizing factor, helping to lock in moisture and protect against environmental stressors and inflammation.
Signs of Dry Skin Include:
- Rough or itchy skin
- Redness and irritation
- A tight feeling
- Small, fine wrinkles
- Thin, fragile skin
What Causes Dry Skin?
Dry skin has many causes including the use of harsh skincare ingredients that strip the skin of natural oils, cold, dry weather which makes it harder for your skin to hold onto moisture, smoking, certain medications, and middle age.
Sebum levels decrease dramatically by your 40s, which can prompt a shift in skin type. For example, if you previously had combination skin, you may start to notice dry patches and fine lines on your cheeks and in your undereye area while your nose and forehead no longer get shiny.
How to Care for Dry Skin
Caring for dry skin means using products that replenish the natural oils the skin lacks on its surface. The best products for dry skin are rich in nourishing fatty acids and ceramides, both of which are naturally found in the skin’s protective moisture barrier.
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What is Dehydrated Skin?
While dry skin lacks oil, dehydrated skin lacks water. Unlike dry skin, which is a skin type, dehydrated skin is often a temporary condition that can happen to all skin types. In fact, dehydrated skin can actually cause your skin to become more oily as your body produces more sebum to help lock in moisture and fix the problem.
Dehydrated skin occurs when the natural process of trans epidermal water loss, or TEWL, goes into overdrive. Simply put, TEWL is when water evaporates from inside the skin into the air. In fact, the average person loses 300 - 400 mL of water through their skin every day.
Causes of Dehydrated Skin
Lifestyle habits such as not drinking enough water and alcohol use can dehydrate your entire body, and your skin is no exception. In addition, anything that strips your skin of it’s natural oils can speed up TEWL and cause your skin to become dehydrated. This can include harsh skin care ingredients, dry weather, or even taking hot, steamy showers.
In addition, dry skin is more susceptible to dehydration, as it lacks the oils needed to lock in moisture, causing excessive TEWL.
Signs of Dehydrated Skin Include:
- Shiny, Oily Skin
- Wrinkled skin with a rough, uneven texture
If you’re experiencing any of these skin concerns and suspect your skin is dehydrated, gently pinch one of your cheeks. If it wrinkles with gentle pressure instead of holding its shape, your skin is indeed dehydrated.
How to Care for Dehydrated Skin
The best products for dehydrated skin include ingredients such as
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