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Dry vs Dehydrated Skin: What's the Difference?

Often the terms dry and dehydrated are used interchangeably but is that correct? Do they really mean the same thing? Well, they do and they do not. To put it simply, dry skin is a skin type while dehydrated skin is a skin condition. So you can have oily dehydrated skin and dry dehydrated skin. Still confused? Well, let us take a closer look!

This is an image of symptoms of dry and dehydrated skin on

What is Dry Skin?

There are four skin types - oily, dry, combination, and normal. Skin types are largely a result of genetics, and sometimes certain changes can be a result of certain products you are using or certain lifestyle choices. For example, if you have oily skin and are using a lot of Salicylic Acid, you may end up drying your skin out. Or how during the winter, the skin moves to the drier side due to the change in temperatures. 

In the case of dry skin, the sebaceous glands do not secrete enough sebum. So what happens here is that the lipids in the skin do not get enough moisture. Lipids are natural fats that strengthen the skin barrier and protect the skin from environmental aggressors. So if the lipids do not perform their function well, it exposes the skin. 

Signs Your Skin is Dry

So how can you tell if you have dry skin? One of the easiest ways to do so is to pinch your cheek. Your skin will feel tight, flaky, and maybe even itchy. These are all symptoms of dry skin. Another thing you can do is a blotting test. 30 minutes after cleansing your face gently pat a tissue or blotting paper to your cheek. Hold up the sheet to light. If you see no oil and your skin feels tight, you have dry skin. You can also head over to our blog to know more about finding your skin type.

Here are a few more symptoms of dry skin:

  1. Dullness or greying: At times, dry skin can appear flat and dull due to the lack of natural oils or sebum on the skin.  
  2. Uneven texture: The skin may feel rough to the touch: When the skin is dry, it often starts to flake as well and that makes the texture of your skin uneven.
  3. Redness: A healthy skin barrier needs sebum for protection. If your skin is dry, it can make your skin barrier weaker. As a result, you may become prone to irritation and redness. In some cases when your skin becomes too dry, you may also experience cracking. This is because the skin is getting tighter and tighter.
  4. Fine lines: You know how a grape looks nice and plump in comparison to a dry raisin? That is what happens here as well. If your skin cells do not have an adequate amount of water, they shrivel up and may result in fine lines.  

What is Dehydrated Skin? 

The term dehydration is one you are definitely not a stranger to. Dehydration refers to a lack of hydration in the body. It is more common in the summer and the best solution is to often drink water at regular intervals. 

Dehydrated skin is along the same lines. Unlike dry skin, dehydrated skin is a skin condition. When the skin is dehydrated, it often tends to produce more oil to compensate for the lack of hydration. This is not a permanent condition though and is largely a result of lifestyle choices.

Signs Your Skin is Dehydrated

Pinch your cheek. If your skin does not feel bouncy or elastic to the touch, and if you are noticing exaggerated lines over your face, you have dehydrated skin. Acne can also be a result of dehydrated skin - due to the sebaceous glands over time. 

Often it is the case that oily skin becomes more manageable when you start using a moisturiser. This is because the skin is replenished with the hydration it needs and does overproduce oil. 

Over time, dehydrated skin can become dry, flaky, congested, and irritable as well. 

Hydration vs Moisturisation

This is an image of difference between dry and dehydrated skin on


Dry and dehydrated skin brings up another question - what is hydration? How is it different from moisturisation? Or how are moisturisers and hydrators different? Let us take a look. 

So both moisturisers and hydrators work towards the same goal: ensuring the skin has enough water or hydration to function properly. While hydration refers to the water content within the cells of the skin. If the cells have adequate water or hydration, the skin appears plumper and has a soft radiance to it. 

Moisturisation involves preventing the moisture or hydration in the skin cells from escaping and strengthening the skin barrier. A moisturiser is made of a mix of hydrating and moisturising ingredients. To know more about moisturisers, head over to our blog. 

Taking Care of Dry Skin

So here is the thing: you cannot fix dry skin entirely. It is something you are born with and cannot change. But here is what you can do - you can learn how to manage it. Here are a few tips on how to take care of dry skin:

This is an image of taking care of dry skin on

1. Exfoliate Regularly

Having dry skin may make you think you do not need to exfoliate much - or at all - but that is not true. In fact, exfoliation can work wonders for your skin! Dead cells tend to accumulate over time and can make the skin look duller. Regular exfoliation keeps the skin fresh. You can opt for a chemical exfoliant such as an AHA or a physical exfoliant. To read all about exfoliation, head over to our blog. 

2. Say Hello to gentle cleansers

 Finding a cleanser for dry skin can be a little tricky. Look out for moisturising and nourishing ingredients such as plant oils and ceramides. Conscious Chemist’s Ritual Face Cleanser is a great option. It contains ingredients such as Hemp Seed Oil and Hyaluronic Acid that are nourishing and moisturising along with antioxidant-rich Green Tea.

This is an image of Ritual Face Cleanser from Conscious Chemist on

3. Use a Face Oil

Face oils are a great way to effectively seal in moisture and strengthen the skin barrier. Herbis Botanicals’ Superhero Facial Oil is a great blend of ultra-nourishing oils such as Hemp Seed, Rosehip, and Evening Primrose oils. These oils also help improve skin barrier function. To know more about face oils, head over to our blog.

This is an image of Superhero Facial oil from Herbis Botanicals on

To know more about what a dry skin care routine should look like, you can head over to our blog. 

Taking Care of Dehydrated Skin

Unlike dry skin, dehydrated skin can be fixed. Here are a few tips on how you can do that:

This is an image of taking care of dehydrated skin on

1. Drink Enough water

This cannot be said enough times: drink enough water! Aim for 2 to 3 litres of water. You could require more, depending on the weather and climate.

2. Incorporate humectants in your skincare

Humectants are ingredients that draw water to the skin cells. Hyaluronic Acid, for example, is a great humectant. To learn more about it, head over to our blog.

3. Spritz on a Face Mist

 With warmer weather fast approaching, who does not love a refreshing face mist? Toners and mists are a great way of adding hydration to your skin. Let the mist dry down a bit onto your skin and follow up with a moisturiser or face oil to lock in the hydration and goodness from the mist. The Dear Klairs Supple Preparation Toner is a great option. It is non-irritating and contains ingredients such as Hyaluronic Acid that are very hydrating.

This is an image of supple preparation facial toner from Dear klairs on

4. Use a Serum

Serums are concentrated lightweight products. Hydrating serums are a great addition to your skincare routine. The Dear Klairs Rich Moist Soothing Serum is an intensely hydrating serum that contains ingredients such as Hyaluronic Acid and plant extracts that nourish and soothe the skin. 

This is an image of rich moist soothing serum from dear Klairs on

 5. Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise

You can be using a lot of hydrating products and still have dehydrated skin if you are not locking in the hydration with a good moisturiser. And yes, even oily skin needs a moisturiser! The key is identifying which moisturiser works best for your skin type. To know more, head over to our blog.


    Dry and dehydrated may seem like they mean the same thing but dry skin is a skin type and dehydrated skin is a skin condition. Both require different types of ingredients - dry skin requires oils, occlusives, and emollients that strengthen the skin barrier and prevent moisture from escaping. Dehydrated skin, on the other hand, requires hydration and for that hydration to be locked in. 

    -Gauri Sindhu

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