Dry Skin vs. Dehydrated Skin: How to Spot the Difference
There’s quite a bit of confusion surrounding dry skin and dehydrated skin, especially since the two terms are often used interchangeably. If your skin feels dry, flaky, and tight, do you have dry skin? Or is it dehydrated? Can it be both? To set the record straight, we tapped board-certified dermatologist, and Skincare.com expert, Dr. Dendy Engelman. Read on for the verdict—plus, your best line of defense to tackle both.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DRY SKIN AND DEHYDRATED SKIN
There is a minor (albeit important) distinction between dry skin and dehydrated skin. Dehydrated skin is a skin condition, and it can affect all skin types. Even oily skin can be dehydrated if it’s lacking in moisture and hydration. Common culprits? “Dehydrated skin can be the result of not drinking enough water or liquids,” says Engelman. “It can also be caused by irritating or drying products, which can strip the skin of its moisture.” Dry skin, on the other hand, is a skin type. “You can be categorized as having a dry skin type if you have minimal oil production,” says Engelman. This can be due to factors including age, climate, genetics, hormones or untreated dehydrated skin. The moral of the story? Dry skin lacks oil and dehydrated skin lacks water.
SIGNS TO LOOK OUT FOR
Symptoms of dry skin and dehydrated skin can be easily mistaken for each other. But there are some differences to keep an eye out for. “Dehydrated skin feels parched and crepe-y,” says Engelman. “It might have an oily film on the skin since dehydrated skin can be mistaken for dryness by skin cells, causing them to produce excess oil as a result.” Dry skin flakes, so if you see lifted skin—white flecks, usually—you probably have dry skin, Engelman says. Since dehydrated skin can affect all skin types, it’s possible to suffer from dehydrated skin and dry skin at the same time. When in doubt, consult with a dermatologist.
HOW TO BRING MOISTURE BACK INTO YOUR SKIN
Whether you’ve realized that your skin is dry or dehydrated, one thing’s for sure: you need to do something about it. To start things off, try drinking the recommended amount of water per day. Next, nourish your skin with moisture-rich products like creams and facial mists. To help get you started on your shopping list, we’re listing the best skin hydrators—from the L’Oréal portfolio of brands—to combat dry and dehydrated skin.
THE BEST MOISTURIZERS FOR DEHYDRATED SKIN
SKINCEUTICALS HYDRATING B5 GEL
“Dehydrated skin will benefit from products that help retain moisture and are formulated with ingredients like hyaluronic acid,” says Engelman. Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 Gel is an oil-free moisturizer formulated with hyaluronic acid—a natural humectant and the body’s natural hydrator—to help bind moisture to the skin and provide optimal hydration without clogging pores.
SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel, $82 MSRP
VICHY AQUALIA THERMAL RICH CREAM
Give your skin a dose of long-lasting hydration with a moisturizer that offers deep comfort for dehydrated skin. Enhanced with Vichy’s Mineralizing Thermal Water and hyaluronic acid, this rich cream evenly moisturizes the skin and helps recover its natural glow. What’s more? You can expect this formula to fortify sensitive skin and boost hydration and comfort.
Vichy Aqualia Thermal Rich Cream, $31 MSRP
KIEHL’S SUPER MULTI-CORRECTIVE CREAM
You can tackle dehydrated skin and visible signs of aging all at once with Kiehl’s Super Multi-Corrective Cream. The formula—formulated with hyaluronic acid, beech tree extract, and jasmonic acid —helps visibly lift, firm, and retexturize the skin. As a plus, the formula is paraben- and colorant-free.
Kiehl’s Super Multi-Corrective Cream, $64 MSRP
L’OREAL PARIS HYDRA GENIUS DAILY LIQUID CARE
We all strive for skin that feels hydrated and fresh, which is why we like turning to L’Oréal Paris’ Hydra Genius Daily Liquid Care. Powered by aloe water and hyaluronic acid, this formula offers lightweight hydration and glides onto the skin for quick absorption.
L’Oréal Paris Hydra Genius Daily Liquid Care, $17.99 MSRP
THE BEST MOISTURIZERS FOR DRY SKIN
SKINCEUTICALS TRIPLE LIPID RESTORE 2:4:2
“Dry skin will benefit from products that replenish oil and repair the lipid layers of the skin,” Dr. Engelman says. SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 boasts a maximized concentration of lipids in its formula—2 percent pure ceramides, 4 percent natural cholesterol and 2 percent fatty acids—to help restore the skin’s external barrier with essential skin lipids and provide 24 hours of hydration for dry skin. When searching for a product for dry skin, always consult the label to make sure it’s specially formulated for the skin type.
SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2, $128 MSRP
VICHY NUTRILOGIE BAUME
An ultra-intensive moisturizing cream that delivers all-day hydration—without boasting an oily sensation? Vichy’s Nutrilogie Baume can offer you just that. The formula—powered by Vichy’s Mineralizing Water—helps strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier function, protecting the skin against aggressors.
Vichy Nutrilogie Baume, $33 MSRP
CERAVE MOISTURIZING CREAM
Want all-day hydration? Lucky for you, that dream can soon become a reality at a budget-friendly price of just under $15 (MSRP). By using Cerave’s Moisturizing Cream, you can help restore your skin’s protective skin barrier with its blended formula of three essential ceramides and hyaluronic acid. As an added bonus, you don’t have to sacrifice comfort for moisture––the texture is rich and non-greasy.
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, $14.32 MSRP
THE BEST FACIAL MISTS FOR BOTH DEHYDRATED AND DRY SKIN
Already have a drawer full of moisturizers just waiting to be used? Great! But there’s still more you can do to amp up your skin’s moisture levels. Reach for one of the refreshing face mists—from the L’Oréal portfolio of brands—that we’ve laid out below. It doesn’t matter if your skin is dry, dehydrated—or even both—these elixirs can benefit all.
VICHY MINERALIZING THERMAL WATER
Want to reap the benefits of luxurious French skin care? No need to hop on a flight—just head to your local drugstore and pick up a bottle of Vichy’s Mineralizing Thermal Water. Formulated with the brand’s exclusive mineral water from the French volcanoes, this beloved spa water is infused with antioxidants and a rich blend of rare minerals. Not only does it offer a refreshing boost of moisture, it can also help protect the skin against free radicals. Spray it on your face before makeup application, or just as a refreshing pick-me-up midday.
Vichy Mineralizing Thermal Water, $140 MSRP
LANCÔME ABSOLUE L'EXTRAIT MIST
Known for its ability to hydrate the skin on-the-go, the Absolue L’Extrait Mist contains natural rose water that can give your skin a quick burst of moisture. Immediately upon application, the skin feels hydrated and more supple.
Lancôme Absolue L’Extrait Mist, $140 MSRP
SHU UEMURA DEPSEA WATER FACIAL MIST
Cool your skin down this summer with Shu Uemura’s Depsea Water Facial Mist. Suitable for all skin types, this mist contains eight herbal aromas formulated with Depsea Water. To top things off, the bottle even got a new update, featuring a new pump that delivers a finer mist for enhanced comfort.
Shu Uemura Depsea Water Facial Mist, $25 MSRP