woman with dehydrated skin

What does dehydrated skin look like?

5 min read
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If you've noticed your skin feeling more sensitive or itchy than usual, it may be dehydrated. All skin types, not just dry skin, can become dehydrated during certain seasons or circumstances.

There is a lot of confusion about dehydrated skin vs dry skin - with the terms sometimes used interchangeably - but they are not the same. Here we explain the difference and share our recommended routine to treat this skin condition.

Dehydrated skin vs dry skin

close-up image of dry skin on the face
Dehydration is characterised by a lack of water - not oil. Even oily skin types can become dehydrated.

Though dehydrated skin symptoms are similar to those of Dry skin, they are two different skin problems. Even oily skin types can become dehydrated.

Dry skin is a skin type and is usually easy to recognise:

  • Lacks sebum (oil)
  • Rough & flaky
  • Redness and irritation
  • Scaly skin
  • Skin feels dry all year long

Dehydrated skin is a temporary skin condition:

  • Lacks water
  • Dull appearance or uneven complexion
  • Tight, itchy and sensitive
  • Lack of radiance and comfort
  • Increased appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Darker circles or sunken eyes
Dehydrated skin can appear dry, but isn't the same as having a dry skin type.

Speak to a dermatologist if you're unsure whether or not your skin is dehydrated or dry.

What causes dehydrated skin?

medical illustration of dehydrated skin
A deficiency of water-binding natural moisturising factors (NMFs) leaves the upper layers of the skin dehydrated.

Dehydrated skin is a condition caused by insufficient water content. External factors including the weather, an unhealthy diet and lifestyle choices like smoking or alcohol consumption all deplete the water in your skin.

This lack of moisture disturbs the skin's barrier, meaning it is unable to protect itself against bacteria and other external irritants. This is also caused by using skincare products that contain harsh ingredients or are unsuitable for your skin, leading to an imbalance.

Learn more about the internal and external causes of dry and dehydrated skin.

Routine to treat dehydrated skin

woman using cream as part of dry skin routine
A morning and night routine is key to treating dry skin.

As a first step to treat this skin condition, reassess your skincare routine and avoid using skin-sensitising products. Our day-to-night regime will leave your skin feeling fresh and hydrated.

Morning routine for dehydrated skin:

  1. Cleanse with DermatoCLEAN Cleansing Gel
  2. Tone with DermatoCLEAN Toner
  3. Hydrate with Hyaluron-Filler Moisture Booster
  4. Care with Hyaluron-Filler Eye Cream
  5. Moisturise with Hyaluron-Filler Day Cream SPF 30

Evening routine for dehydrated skin:

  1. Cleanse with DermatoCLEAN Cleansing Gel
  2. Tone with DermatoCLEAN Toner
  3. Hydrate with Hyaluron-Filler Moisture Booster Night
  4. Care with Hyaluron-Filler Eye Cream
  5. Moisturise with Hyaluron-Filler Night Cream

Products for dehydrated skin

Lifestyle tips for dehydrated skin

Though dehydrated skin can be frustrating it is relatively simple to treat by rethinking your skincare routine and making some lifestyle changes.

  • Stay hydrated: As a first step ensure you drink at least 1.5 litres of water per day, unless your doctor says otherwise. Replenish lost fluids during and after exercising.
  • Exfoliate: Removing the build-up of dead skin cells is key to treating dehydrated and dry skin. Depending on your skin type, you should exfoliate at least once a week. Learn more in How to exfoliate your skin.
  • Moisturise: Ensure you apply a moisturiser as part of your morning and evening skincare routine.
  • Avoid harsh cleansers: It's important to choose skincare products that don't strip away natural skin lipids.
  • Avoid dry air indoors: Air conditioned or overheated rooms accelerate moisture evaporation.
  • Maintain a healthy diet: Drink less caffeine, alcohol and eat more plant-based meals.
  • Stop smoking: Our skin becomes drier and more susceptible to fine lines due to the toxins in cigarettes.

If you notice your skin doesn't improve after making these changes, then you may in fact have a dry skin type. Speak to your dermatologist for further advice.

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