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Dehydrated Skin vs. Dry Skin: Is There a Difference?

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.Squalane + Omega Repair Cream with cap off and water flowing

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. 

Our deeply hydrating, ultra-nourishing Omega Repair Creamuses beneficial lipids that mimic and support the skin’s natural moisture barrier. Sugarcane-derived squalane, omega fatty acids, ceramides, and plant sterols nourish, plump, hydrate, and repair your skin’s moisture barrier to keep skin supple, smooth, and deeply moisturized.

Follow your moisturizer with a few drops of our 100% Squalane Oil to instantly hydrate and lock in moisture while soothing irritation associated with dry skin. Our squalane is bioidentical to the moisture naturally found in human skin, making it weightless and easily absorbed. It also promotes microbiome diversity, helping further strengthen the moisture barrier.

Learn more about caring for dry skin

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:

  • Redness
  • Congestion
  • Shiny, Oily Skin
  • Inflammation
  • 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.

Abundance of Squalane + Copper Peptide Rapid Plumping Serum with droppers off

How to Care for Dehydrated Skin

The best products for dehydrated skin include ingredients such as ectoin and hyaluronic acid that replenish the skin’s water content while also working to support the skin’s moisture barrier to slow down TEWL.

With water-binding ingredients including ectoin and hyaluronic acid, our Copper Peptide Rapid Plumping Serum is dehydrated skin’s best friend. Hyaluronic acid pulls water from the environment into the skin while echoing soothes and hydrates,  plumping skin and providing lasting hydration while paracress extract tightens and copper peptides boost elasticity.

Follow it with a barrier-building moisturizer such as our advanced reformulated Probiotic Gel Moisturizer. Made with revolutionary encapsulated probiotics, this first-of-its-kind formula increases microbiome diversity, supporting a healthy skin barrier while squalane hydrates and nourishes.
Christine Tusher
Christine Tusher Writer and expert
As a lifestyle writer and journalist, I love sharing my passion for ocean conservation and obsession with clean beauty. I’ve tried almost every trend and ingredient, and Biossance’s science-backed formulas are the only ones that consistently calm my reactive skin and make it smoother, clearer, and healthier. I’m so excited to be on this journey of skincare innovation with Biossance, and to share it with you!

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