Dry Skin or Dehydrated Skin?


When people talk about skincare, they often use the words "moisture" and "hydration" interchangeably. However, they are actually two very different things! When we talk about dry skin, we are actually talking about skin that is lacking oil. And when we talk about dehydrated skin, we are talking about skin that is lacking water.

A complete skincare routine will incorporate products that provide both moisture and hydration, for the ultimate soft and supple complexion. You should use a hydrator containing humectants, such as hyaluronic acid, to retain water content within the skin – and then you need to lock in that hydration by reinforcing your skin's lipid barrier with a moisturizer or face oil.

The difference between hydrating products and moisturizing products can be tricky, since many brands use these words interchangeably. However, we're here to teach you the difference between moisturizers, hydrators, and products that do both!


What's the Difference?


Dry skin is lacking oil and needs moisture. Some common signs of dry skin are flakiness and scaliness, roughness, redness, itchiness, and irritation.


Dehydrated skin is lacking water and needs hydration. Some common signs of dehydrated skin are dullness, tightness, dark circles, and an increase appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.



A product that prevents and treats dryness in the skin by locking in moisture, typically in the form of a lotion or cream containing oil.

Dry Skin

What causes dry skin? Unfortunately, most of the factors causing dry skin are not necessarily in our control. Dry skin is a skin type, just like oily skin, normal skin, or combination skin. Dry skin is often genetic, and it's not always necessarily a result of your lifestyle or the products you use. When you have naturally dry skin, it means that you skin lacks oil and does not form a strong lipid barrier to seal in moisture. Age also plays a role in the skin's dryness. As we age, the natural lipid barrier decreases, making it even more difficult for our skin to retain moisture. That's why moisture is such an important part of anti-aging skincare.

The products we use on our skin also have a big impact. For example, people with acne-prone skin might use products with harsh chemicals and ingredients that strip the skin of its natural oils. When we over-exfoliate or use cleansers that remove those natural oils, our skin is left feeling tight and dry. This is why it's always important to follow up with a good moisturizer at the end of your skincare routine!

Dehydrated Skin

What causes dehydrated skin? There are a number of factors that might be contributing to your skin's dehydration, the first being your water intake. Yep, that's right — drinking enough water is a huge factor in keeping your skin healthy and hydrated (among many other benefits). There are other lifestyle factors that may cause your skin to be dehydrated as well, such as stress, poor diet, lack of sleep, and high sodium intake.

There are also a few factors we can't necessarily control, such as aging. Mature skin tends to become more dehydrated and needs more water from external sources. Climate also has a pretty significant impact on the hydration of our skin. You may notice in the summer when the air tends to be humid, your skin is a bit more hydrated, whereas in the cold, dry winter, your skin feels dry (although it's actually just dehydrated from the lack of water in the air).


What About Oily Skin?

One of the most common myths when it comes to moisture and hydration is that if you have oily skin, you should avoid products that contain oil, or steer clear of moisturizing products altogether. This is completely false! When your skin overproduces oil, that is actually a sign that your skin is thirsty and is trying make up for the lack of water by producing oil. While using an oil-free hydrator is a great option for oily skin, you shouldn't be afraid to also incorporate moisturizers that contain oil. This might just be exactly what your skin needs in order to stop overproducing oil on its own!



A product that replenishes and retains the skin's water content, often containing humectants which absorb water from the air and bind it to the skin.

Do I Need Both?


The short answer is, yes! When you hydrate your skin, you're actually only fighting half the battle. We all know that water evaporates, but what you've probably never thought about is that water evaporates from your skin, too. This is why it's important to lock in the hydration by following up with a moisturizer or face oil. When you use a product containing oil, it restores the lipid barrier on the surface of your skin, which prevents the water from evaporating and leaving your skin dehydrated. This is what we mean when we say a product "locks in" moisturize — it is literally forming a barrier that prevents the water from escaping!

Key Takeaways

Dehydrated skin is lacking water. People often believe they have dry skin, when really their have dehydrated skin. You can hydrate your skin by drinking plenty of water, and using skincare products containing humectants to retain the water content in your skin.

Dry skin is lacking oil. This is a skin type that is often genetic, but can be worsened by using products that strip the skin of its natural oils. You can soothe dry skin by avoiding harsh products, and by applying face oils or cream moisturizers containing oil.

Your skin needs both moisture and hydration to be smooth, healthy, and radiant. After applying a hydrator, you need to prevent the water from evaporating by locking it in with a moisturizer. You can also use a product that acts as both a hydrator and a moisturizer, such as a cream that contains both oil and hyaluronic acid.

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