Dehydrated Skin vs. Dry Skin: What's the Difference?

Dehydrated Skin vs. Dry Skin: What's the Difference?

Is there a difference between dehydrated and dry skin? Read on to get all your questions answered by our CLEARSTEM experts.

If you ever notice that your face lacks moisture, you might use the terms dehydrated and dry interchangeably. Like many people, you might assume these words mean the same thing—but they're different. 

But when it comes to skincare, dehydrated skin vs. dry skin are two very different conditions that are caused by separate factors. So, to achieve a dewy complexion that looks luminous and feels just the right amount of moisture, you must first understand if your skin concern is caused by dryness or dehydration.  

Ready to demystify this topic? You’re in the right place. 

Dehydrated Skin vs. Dry Skin

First, Let's explore the key difference between dry and dehydrated skin.

In both situations, the underlying problem is that the body lacks an essential element of moisture. For dehydrated skin, that element is water. For dry skin, it's oil. 

Both water and oil play crucial roles in keeping our skin healthy, bouncy, and vibrant. So when our skin doesn’t get enough of either one, issues are quick to follow. On the other hand, excess water or oil can also cause skin conditions. The trick is finding the right balance of water and oil for your unique complexion. 

What Does Dehydrated Skin Look Like?

Imagine the difference between a grape and a raisin. 

Both have a dry exterior. But while the raisin is shriveled and covered in wrinkles, the grape is full and bursting with hydration because of the moisture it holds underneath its skin.

This comparison perfectly illustrates what dehydration does to your skin’s appearance.  

If your body is not receiving adequate hydration, you might notice that your skin is becoming dull, losing its glow, and decreasing elasticity. 

(PRO TIP: It's really good sign that you're dehydrated is that your lips are chronically dry.)

You can also better understand your hydration levels by performing the “pinch test.” If you pinch a section of skin on your arm and it takes more than a couple of seconds to return to its original position, it’s probably time for a water break.

Dehydration doesn’t only impact your skin on an aesthetic level—it can also hinder some of the skin’s key functions beneath the surface, which can manifest as:

  • Loss of skin flexibility, bounce, and plumpness
  • The eyes develop a dark, sunken appearance
  • The formation of fine lines that aren’t a result of aging

How to Treat It

You might assume that there’s one simple solution to revive dehydrated skin: drink more water. But while replenishing water loss is certainly a big part of the solution, other factors might also be dehydrating your skin. 

For instance, the following factors can cause skin dryness: 

  • Cold weather
  • Pollution
  • UV rays
  • Dry air 
  • Other environmental factors

While you may not be able to change your environment, you can control lifestyle behaviors that will help your skin look and feel more hydrated. Avoid these factors to set your skin up for success:

  • High levels of stress
  • Washing face in hot water 
  • Lack of sleep
  • Excessive smoking and drinking
  • Excess caffeine 

Now you know how to fix dehydrated skin, but what if you implement all these changes and you still suffer from moisture loss and dehydrated skin? 

If this is the case, you may have just been born with a skin type that tends to stay drier. But fret not—there are steps you can take to identify and resolve this skin concern and improve your hydration levels. 

What Does Dry Skin Look Like?

While dehydrated skin lacks moisture on an internal level, dry skin lacks the external oils that our bodies need to hold moisture in.

Our skin is smart. It produces natural oils for a good reason. One of the purposes of this oil, which is also known as sebum, is to create a barrier that protects our epidermis from the outside world and harmful environmental factors. 

When this protective, moisturizing layer of oil is missing, your skin may experience:  

  • Cracking and bleeding
  • Itchiness and discomfort
  • A dull or flaky appearance
  • Increased sensitivity to products

Allowing your skin to stay dry for a long time is a recipe for dermatological challenges. Cracked skin can sometimes allow bacteria to enter, causing a slew of additional skincare concerns.

But with the right ingredients and care, you can give your dry skin the support it needs to thrive. 

How to Treat It

Perpetually dry skin can be a bit harder to address as compared to dehydrated skin. This is because some people are genetically predisposed to experience dry skin. Their pores simply don’t produce as much oil as other people. Thus, the fix to dry skin is not as quick as replenishing water loss and drinking a few extra glasses of water every day. 

Still, there are dry skin tips you can use to give your skin a much-needed moisture boost. 

You should commit to keeping your skin moisturized with high-quality skincare products at all times. In the next section, we’ll detail trusted products you can use to start seeing meaningful results. 

If a consistent routine of well-formulated skincare products doesn’t make a noticeable improvement to your dry skin, it’s wise to consult a professional for help. Some people with excessively dry skin may be experiencing conditions like: 

  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Ichthyosis
  • Psoriasis

In these cases, more intensive treatments may be required to achieve relief from your skin condition. 

Tailoring Skincare for Dehydrated and Dry Skin

Whether you’re experiencing dehydrated skin, dry skin, or perhaps a combination of both, you deserve to achieve long-term relief from the dull skin and discomfort that come hand in hand with these conditions.

If you’re ready to finally transform your skin from rough and patchy to nourished and radiant, read on to learn how to treat dehydrated skin and supplement dry skin.

The good news is that whether you’re experiencing dehydrated or dry skin, you can employ similar solutions to restore moisture and regain a fresh, glowy complexion. The following steps should serve as the foundation for any dry skin routine: 

  • Keep it gentle – When people notice that they’re experiencing skin problems, their first instinct is often to scrub away at the issue with a harsh cleanser. However, this can often worsen the predicament, especially with dehydrated or dry skin. Astringent or benzoyl peroxide based face washes can strip your face of the natural oils it is working to build up. To prevent this, invest in a gentle cleanser that will clean dirt from your skin without causing irritation or additional skin dryness. 
  • Cold splash in the morning. Use cool water to splash your skin in the morning instead of doing a full cleanse. This will protect your moisture barrier.
  • Take your omegas and make sure you're getting enough healthy fat. Not getting enough healthy fat in your diet can lead to chronic dehydration. 
  • Prioritize hydration – One of the most important things you can do for dehydrated or dry skin is to adopt a consistent moisturizing routine with well-formulated products. You don’t want to choose a cream that’s too greasy or one that will clog your pores. When made with harmful, pore-clogging ingredients, some moisturizers can cause acne. To avoid this skin condition from occurring, be sure to choose a reliable skincare product that is non-comedogenic and is able to nourish the skin barrier from the inside out. Regularly apply a thin layer of moisturizer or hydrating serum that will moisturize your skin without clogging your pores. 
  • Moisturize even more – If you notice your skin is dry or dull for a prolonged period of time, go ahead and give it some additional support with more robust moisturizing products. In other words, take it a step further than using traditional daily moisturizers by applying hydrating or moisture masks. It’s best to pamper your skin with a healing overnight mask a few times per week to lock in extra moisture. 

Feeling overwhelmed and wondering how you’re going to find all the right products to start your journey towards more hydrated skin? Don’t worry—we’ve got everything you need in one convenient kit. 

Our dermatology experts here at CLEARSTEM designed a Deep Hydration Kit that helps you tackle all your dry skin concerns in one fell swoop. 

This mighty 3-step trio comes with: 

  1. GENTLECLEAN – A gentle cleanser, this solution removes impurities without stripping the skin of its natural oils. It gives you that fresh, rejuvenated feel without any of the itchy, tight, dryness that comes with other face washes. Once you’ve thoroughly cleansed with this product, your skin will be primed and ready to absorb some ultimate hydration. 
  2. BOUNCEBACK – This hydrating serum boosts collagen production to add some much-needed bounce back into your skin. Its powerful antioxidants help to repair skin damage and protect the epidermis from environmental stressors. This wonder product for skin dryness provides all these benefits at once while simultaneously permeating deep into the skin barrier to hydrate your skin. 
  3. HYDRABERRY – This lightweight moisturizer is perfect for people who need some help in the hydration department but don’t like the feeling of skincare products that are overly heavy or greasy. Simply lather on a light layer of this product, which is packed with natural extracts like strawberry and blueberry, to deliver intense hydration and nourishment to your skin. 

As you up your skincare game, take care to also avoid cosmetics that are overly harsh on the skin. Frequently wearing makeup with harmful or comedogenic ingredients can strip away your natural facial oils. Ultimately, this might end up counteracting the progress you make with your skincare regimen. 

Respect the special needs of your dehydrated or dry skin by taking extra care to use gentle cosmetics and skincare products on it whenever possible. 

Restore Moisture to Dry or Dehydrated Skin with CLEARSTEM

Dealing with dehydrated or dry skin? Don’t worry; your dream of achieving smooth and supple skin can become a reality with the right skincare solutions on your side. That’s why our CLEARSTEM experts have formulated the ultimate products for deep hydration. 

We’ve cracked the code when it comes to quenching your skin’s thirst. Invest in our advanced solutions to work a moisturizing miracle on even the most parched skin. One of the best first steps you can take is to start using a high-quality moisturizer to restore your skin barrier. After just a few days of using our intensely hydrating products, you’ll start to look and feel like your most hydrated self.


WebMD. Signs of Poor Skin Hydration.

Winston Salem Dermatology. Everything You Need to Know About Dehydrated Skin.

American Academy of Dermatology. DRY SKIN: DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT.