Is Your Skin Dry or Dehydrated? And How To Find Out

Your skin is flaking, has a rough texture, and sometimes even itches and burns? Do you keep using an arsenal of specific products for dry skin, including moisturizers, soaps, and even sunscreen, but nothing seems to have an effect?

If you identify with this situation, we have a revelation: maybe your skin is not really dry - in fact, it may be dehydrated.

The problems are similar

Both dry and dehydrated skin present similar symptoms, such as pulling sensation, peeling, whitish areas, rough texture, sensitivity, and cracks.


Another similarity between them is in the regions of the body that have a greater tendency to dryness, which include cheeks, elbows, knees, shins, and feet (especially the heels).


However, although they appear in similar ways, dry skin, and dehydrated skin are caused by different factors, so the treatment will also be specific to each one.

Understanding dry skin

When we talk about "dry skin", we are referring to the type of skin - as well as normal, mixed, and oily skin. In this case, it is considered dry because it produces little sebum, a characteristic that can accompany us from birth due to a genetic predisposition or that can arise with advancing age.


This lack of sebum impairs the formation of the hydrolipidic film, a thin layer of oil mixed with perspiration that prevents the loss of water from the skin to the environment. Thus, even if the skin receives water, it will not be able to retain these molecules due to the lack of this protective barrier.


As a result, dry skin tends to have an opaque appearance, and signs of aging (such as wrinkles and expression lines) appear earlier. In addition, it is more susceptible to inflammation and infection because the barrier is not as effective in protecting it from the entrance of foreign substances and microorganisms.


It is important to remember that external factors, such as the use of products to eliminate oiliness (which bothers some people even being natural, especially in the T zone) and of some medicines, can worsen the picture or convert normal skin into dryness, even temporarily.

Understanding dehydrated skin

Unlike dry skin, what characterizes dehydrated skin is the low amount of water, not the insufficient production of sebum - so much that people with this condition can show signs of oiliness, such as the glow in the T-zone, carnations, and pimples.


Thus, dehydrated skin is not a type of skin, but a generally temporary condition that can arise due to some reasons like these:

  • Environmental factors such as dry weather and strong winds;
  • Excessive exposure to the sun;
  • Constant use of heating or air conditioning devices;
  • Use of inadequate products for the skin, such as tonics with high concentrations of alcohol, abrasive lotions, and cosmetics very acid or with irritating ingredients;
  • Very high water temperature during bath and face washing;
  • Removal of the hydrolipidic film due to excessive cleaning;
  • Smoking and alcohol consumption;
  • Excessive ingestion of salt and stimulating drinks, such as coffee.


In this case, the use of dry skin products may not be enough to solve the problem or, even worse, leave the skin very oily instead of hydrated, favoring the appearance of acne and enlarged pores.

Pinch testing

If you are still in doubt about what is causing your skin to dry out, there is a very simple test that can help you: just give your face a light pinch.


If the skin takes time to return to its original position, it is dehydrated. If it comes back quickly, the amount of water is normal and your face probably has dry skin.


From this, you can choose the most appropriate treatment and take the necessary measures to correct the problem.

How to take care of dry skin

If your problem is insufficient oil production, it is worth investing in specific products for dry and sensitive skin. When choosing a hydrating, opt for those with a more dense and unctuous texture and that contains emollient ingredients and humectants to help restore the balance of the hydrolipidic film, such as niacinamide, ceramides, and vegetable oils, and kinds of butter.


For cleaning, use water at a warm temperature and soaps with neutral pH, appropriate for this type of skin. In the case of the sun protector, the cream versions are usually more indicated.

Besides, it is important to make a light exfoliation to remove the dead cells and allow the active ingredients to penetrate the skin. Just take care not to exaggerate in this procedure, because it can aggravate sensitivity and increase dryness.

How to take care of dehydrated skin

Dehydrated skin needs products that help to replace the amount of water, such as hydrating that contains urea, lactate, and glycoglycerol. In this case, the texture can be lighter, such as fluid or gel-cream - especially if you have a tendency to present greasiness.


However, more than that, it is essential to guarantee the consumption of at least 2 liters of water per day, reduce the ingestion of drinks with caffeine (which dehydrates the skin) and give preference to moisturizing foods that are rich in good fats, such as green leaves (especially spinach and cabbage), avocado, salmon, eggs, nuts, and seeds.


It is worth remembering that dry skin and dehydrated skin can happen simultaneously, so that you may need more intense care or aesthetic procedures, such as a red LED light therapy. If these tips are not effective in a few weeks, be sure to seek a dermatologist.