Dehydrated Skin: Symptoms, Causes And Treatments

January 19, 2024 by L'Oréal
By: by L'Oréal | by L'Oréal
Dry Skin vs. Dehydrated Skin: What’s the Difference?

The terms dry skin and dehydrated skin are often used interchangeably, but they’re not exactly the same thing. If your skin feels rough, flaky and tight, it could mean that you have dry skin, but it can also mean that your skin is just in need of a hydration boost. Confused? We get it. To explain, we tapped board-certified dermatologist and expert Dr. Dendy Engelman

The Difference Between Dry 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. “Dehydrated skin can be the result of not drinking enough water or liquids,” says Dr. 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 Dr. 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.

How to Know if Your Skin Is Dry or Dehydrated

“Dehydrated skin feels parched and crepe-y,” says Dr. Engelman. “It might have an oily film on the skin because dehydrated skin can be mistaken for dryness by skin cells, causing them to produce excess oil as a result.” 

Dry skin tends to flake, so if you see lifted skin —  white flecks, usually — you probably have dry skin, Dr. Engelman says. Because 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 Treat Dry and Dehydrated Skin

Whether your skin is dry or dehydrated, nourishing it with moisturizing products can help. The ingredients you should look for might differ depending on which skin issue you’re dealing with.  

“Dry skin will benefit from products that replenish oil and repair the lipid layers of the skin,” Dr. Engelman says. The SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 boasts a maximized concentration of lipids in its formula — including 2% pure ceramides, 4% natural cholesterol and 2% fatty acids — to help restore the skin’s moisture barrier and provide up to 24 hours of hydration. 

La Roche Posay’s Hyalu B5serum is another great product choice where the star ingredient is hyaluronic acid.  This anti-aging serum leaves skin feeling plump to the touch and helps repair skin by replenishing the natural moisture barrier. This serum combines concentrated pure hyaluronic acid, madecassoside and vitamin B5 for optimal effectiveness while also being suitable for sensitive skin.


To round out our hyaluronic acid products, Vichy’s Mineral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Booster is like a drink of water for the skin.  Pure Hyaluronic Acid and 15 Mineral-Rich Vichy Volcanic Water to strengthen & repair your skin barrier.  You can easily layer with other serums and products and is also suitable for people with sensitive skin and eczema.


For a hydrating toner, look to Thayers Milky Hydrating Toner.  This gentle, creamy hydrating facial toner formula, blended with snow mushroom, hyaluronic acid and elderflower water, soaks into skin, delivering 48 hours of hydration, even without a moisturizer.



For those with oily skin, the Skinceuticals Daily Moisturizer is a great choice for hydration. This face moisturizer for normal to oily skin hydrates, nourishes, and helps reduce the appearance of pore size. Formulated with an exclusive combination of vitamin E, three nutrient-rich algae extracts, and a blend of seven botanical extracts to protect and leave skin soft without a greasy residue.



Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream is their #1 face cream for a reason. Formulated with a powerful combination of 4.5% Squalane, Glacial Glycoprotein and Pro-Ceramides to strengthen your skin's moisture barrier for softer, smoother skin and 72-hour hydration.


Photography: Chaunte Vaughn, Art Direction: Melissa San Vicente-Landestoy, Associate Producer: Becca Solovay, Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist: Jonet Williamson, Wardrobe Stylist: Alexis Badiyi, Digital Tech: Paul Yem, Model: Munira Maltity Zul-qa


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