Dry vs Dehydrated Skin – What’s the Difference?

Dry skin, dehydrated skin… they're the same thing, right? While not mutually exclusive, they’re actually two very different things and the products you use will depend on which you have. 

As discussed in How do I identify my skin type?, dry skin is a skin type and caused by a lack of sebum (naturally produced oil). If you were born with dry skin, it isn’t just your face that can be affected, your hands, scalp, and legs are also often flaky. If you’re like me, you’ll also notice moisturisers and lotions absorb quickly - especially in winter. 

Dehydrated skin isn’t a skin type, it’s a skin condition that can affect any skin type and is caused by your skin lacking water. The cause for dehydrated skin can be a number of things, including diet, makeup, weather or even incorrect product use. 

So, how do you tell the difference? 

The symptoms for dry and dehydrated skin are similar, however, there are a few key differences to look for that will indicate you have dehydrated skin, including:  

  • darker under-eye circles, or tired eye appearance
  • your skin feeling uncharacteristically tight and uncomfortable
  • itchiness
  • your skin appearing dull or almost sallow
  • more visible signs of ageing than usual, including fine lines and wrinkles

If you’re still unsure, try the pinch test. Gently pinch your skin, release, and watch how your skin reacts. If your skin bounces back immediately, your skin is hydrated. If it takes a little while for the skin to return, you’re likely dehydrated. 

The key to addressing dry skin is using products that help retain water and maintain hydration - especially overnight. Introducing a humidifier during winter can also help.

Shop our Hello Hydration Range for Dry Skin. 

Oral hydration is key for treating dehydrated skin, this can also include eating water-rich foods - watermelon, celery or strawberries.

Reference: Healthline, Dry Skin vs. Dehydrated: How to Tell the Difference - and why it Matters (2019).