Derm DMs: Is My Skin Really Oily or Is It Dehydrated?

October 27, 2022
Ariel Wodarcyk
By: Ariel Wodarcyk | by L'Oréal
Is my skin oily or dehydrated?

There’s a common misconception that oily skin equals well-hydrated skin. But according to our consulting expert, Roberta Moradfor, a board-certified aesthetic nurse practitioner and founder of EFFACÈ Aesthetics, even if you have oily skin, it can still be lacking in water. “The reality is oily skin can be a sign that one is in dire need of hydration,” she says. “When skin lacks hydration, meaning water, oily skin can actually become more oily due to the overproduction of oil by your skin.” To find out the signs of oily, dehydrated skin, keep reading.

How Does Skin Become Dehydrated? 

“Dehydration can occur for various reasons: lifestyle, changes in weather and environmental factors,” Moradfor says. “Basically your glands will try to compensate for the lack of water hydration by producing more oil.” Any skin type can become dehydrated, including oily and combination skin.

“Dehydrated skin can be the result of not drinking enough water or liquids, as well as using irritating or drying products that can strip the skin of its moisture,” consulting expert and board-certified dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman explained in a previous article

Signs You Have Both Oily and Dehydrated Skin

Telltale signs of dehydrated skin can include dull, lackluster looking skin, dark shadows under the eyes and fine lines and wrinkles that look more pronounced than usual, says Moradfor. “In cases where your skin is producing more oil than usual, you may be experiencing breakouts and noticing more clogged pores and congestion,” she adds. 

Irritated skin, itchy skin and dry patches can also be a sign of having oily and dehydrated skin, says Moradfor. “Dry patches can exist on one’s face even with excess oiliness.” 

Our Tips to Hydrate Oily Skin

The outermost layer of your skin is called the stratum corneum. According to Moradfor, “this is the area that will become dehydrated when it lacks moisture on a cellular level.” Some research has shown that drinking more water may increase hydration of the stratum corneum and reduce the appearance of dry, rough skin. 

A proper skincare routine is also key for minimizing signs of dehydration. “Simply giving your skin hydration by applying a product containing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and ceramides is known to help retain water on the surface of the skin,” says Moradfor. “Properly cleansing with a gentle cleanser that will not strip the skin is vital, followed up with the use of a good moisturizer that contains humectants and emollients. This helps to create a barrier on the surface level of skin to avoid further water loss.”

Moradfor also recommends exfoliating regularly to increase surface cell turnover — you can do this by incorporating a retinol into your routine. 

Lastly, she says, stay away from products that contain alcohol, “which can further dry up oily skin, leading to more dehydration.”



Design: Juliana Campisi

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