The Differences Between Dry And Dehydrated Skin

Photo by Park Street on Unsplash

Dry, dull, and tight feeling skin can be a total downer. Not to mention, it can make working with makeup more difficult. 

What would you say, though, if I were to tell you that your skin actually might be dehydrated and not dry at all? You might be thinking “Ashley, I’m pretty sure it’s all the same” 

What I’m going to share with you is a recent realization I had for myself, which is why I’m so excited to share what I’ve learned with you. 

What Are The Differences Between Dry And Dehydrated Skin:

While both dehydrated and dry skin can feel the same, there are some significant differences between the two. This could potentially mean that the skincare products you’ve been using might not be working in your skin’s best interest.  

In short, dehydrated skin is lacking in water, while dry skin is lacking in oil. 

Dry skin is a skin type, meaning that it has a genetic component, and it’s something you’ve always had. Dry skin happens when your sebaceous glands don’t produce enough oil. This lack of oil production will also affect the skin on your entire body. 

Then dehydrated skin is more of a skin condition. It can come and go, which is why you may notice a change in your skin depending on the season. Dehydration can occur in any skin type, even dry skin. Dehydrated skin can be caused by several factors, including environment, weather, diet, and not drinking enough water. 

Even just drinking water may not be enough to keep you hydrated. In a recent Instagram post by Dr. Ben Lynch, he shared that without Potassium and Sodium, just drinking water alone is not enough. It’s the electrolytes which help bring the water to your cells. That makes total sense, and I’m kicking myself now for not remembering that. So, if like me, you’ve been drinking a lot of water and not seeing results and are still feeling dehydrated, you might check with your doctor to see if you are deficient in potassium.

Also, in the instance of dehydrated skin, you might notice that your skin looks oily but feels dry. This is because if your skin is dehydrated, it will try to produce more oil to compensate for the lack of water. This can lead to breakouts and clogged pores. Yay! The human body is fantastic, though, right?!

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How To Tell If You Have Dry Or Dehydrated Skin:

If your skin is feeling dry but you’re not sure if it’s just your skin type or because you’re dehydrated, there are some key things you can look for. 

Your skin might be dry if you experience:

  • Red, aggravated, flaky or itchy skin
  • Arms, legs, scalp, and body skin is also dry
  • Moisturizer absorbs quickly after applying

Your skin might be dehydrated if you experience:

  • Skin feels stretched or looks dull
  • Skin might feel and look both oily and dry
  • You’re having more breakouts
  • You notice more fine lines
  • Under eyes may look darker and more sunken
  • Up close in a mirror, skin may look like a cracked desert

What To Do For Dry Skin And Dehydrated Skin:

If you have dry skin, the following can help to keep your skin moisturized:

  1. Use A Moisturizer – Be sure to select one for your dry skin type. Moisturizers help dry skin by providing a protective barrier.  If your skin is extremely dry, you may consider using a facial oil instead.
  2. Avoid Hot Showers – Hot water removes the oil from the skin, so using warm water instead, is the way to go.
  3. Stay Away From Harsh Cleansers – Try using a cleanser that is cream-based and formulated with dry skin in mind. Avoid ingredients like fragrance and alcohol, which are drying.
  4. Use A Humidifier – If the air in your house is warm and dry, it’s likely not doing your dry skin any favors. Humidifiers help to add moisture to the air. Just be sure to keep it clean daily to not grow mold. Your houseplants will also thank you.

If you have dehydrated skin, the following can help keep your skin hydrated: 

  1. Use A Gentle Cleanser + Lukewarm Water – Similar to dry skin, you’ll want to avoid using hot water, and choosing a cleanser that is designed for dehydrated skin is best. Again avoiding products with harsh ingredients, specifically fragrance and alcohol.
  2. Try A Facial Mist Or Essence – This is something I do myself and have found it to be helpful. After cleansing, I spritz my face with a facial mist or essence before I apply my other products. Sometimes I will use it after as well.
  3. Look For Products With Hyaluronic Acid – When you hear the word acid, you might be thinking “yikes” since it sounds like it would be something that would fall into the harsh ingredient category. However, not all acids are created equal, and some are good for your skin. In the instance of dehydrated skin, Hyaluronic Acid will become your new BFF. It acts as a humectant to bind and retain hydration in the skin. Our Hydrating Lip Mask contains Hyaluronic Acid and is designed specifically for dehydrated lips
  4. Avoid Caffeine And Alcohol – These two are some of the worst things for dehydrated skin. Both act as diuretics, which deplete the body of its water content.
  5. Stay Away From Scrubs – Exfoliation is essential for both dry and dehydrated skin. For dehydrated skin, though, you’ll want to avoid an overly gritty scrub. Instead, you might look for a fruit enzyme exfoliator.

Then, if you’re like me, and super lucky to have both dry and dehydrated skin, you might try a little of all of the above.

What About Dry/Dehydrated Lips? 

Our Hydrating Lip Mask contains Hyaluronic Acid and is designed to for dehydrated lips. Use a lip mask once a week for a month, then monthly for best results. 

The process would be: Exfoliate Stick, Lip Mask, Rallye Balm (or…exfoliate, hydrate, moisturize). 

The Rallye Balm + Exfoliate duo has been the quickest fix for me. You can gently exfoliate each day, and then use the Rallye Balm to add nourishing Vitamin E back into your lips.

Bonus! When your lips are moisturized and hydrated, your lipstick applications will last much longer and look more even and flawless!

This Gluten Free Lip Balm Stops Dry, Cracked Lips Once And For All!
Exfoliation is the key to flawless lipstick and keeping your lips in tip top condition!

Do you have dry or dehydrated skin? I’d love to know what you do to keep your skin happy, so leave a comment below, sharing your tips.


  1. Lips? Yes! Recommendation of overall skin care line(s)/routine for dehydrated skin and rosacea? Spending my first winter in Arizona vs Midwest. Skin care is a challenge!

    1. Ashley Teague says:

      Hi Deb! It sounds like you have similar skin to me. I have rosacea as well and I used to live in Arizona 🙂 So we’re not affiliated with the companies I’m going to recommend and I would still look at their ingredients to make sure they’ll work for you BUT I highly recommend the following.

      1. Cleanser: Basic no frills either cream cleanser from Naturopathica OR bar soap from Osmia.
      2. Toner: I don’t use a lot of toners but the ones I’ve tried and liked are also from Naturopathica, Josh Rosebrook’s Hydrating Accelerator is amazing and occasionally I’ll use his new acid toner as well. I know the words of “acid” sound scary when you have rosacea but this used sparingly has made a difference in my skin.
      3. Serums : I use a Hyaluronic Acid serum from Live Botanicals, the Antioxidant Dew from Kypris, and the Hydration Boost from Josh Rosebrook
      4. Moisturizer: I use the calendula cream from Naturopthica in the winter and evenings in the summer and in the summer use the Atmosphere protectioncream from Osea during the day since it’s lightweight.


      Sunscreen: I haven’t found one yet for my face that does not cause breakouts

      Masks: I adore face masks and overnight masks including the chlorophyll mask from Cocokind, the Hydration sheet masks from Acure and 100% Pure are awesome as well.

      Exfoliation: I’ve found that physical exfoliants are too harsh for my skin so I stick with chemical exfoliants *again sounds scary but you can find really gentle ones on the market*…in fact the acid toner from Josh Rosebrook does work to exfoliate the skin so this step could be skipped. Dermaplaning is another great way to exfoliate the skin in a more gentle way.

      I hope this helps!

  2. Thanks Ashley, So appreciate your article on the differences! Now I know, I am both dry and dehydrated. No wonder it’s been difficult to get my make-up routine down correctly. Running for a glass of water after I write this 🙂

    1. Ashley Teague says:

      Hi Sharon, You’re so welcome. I’m happy this helped 🙂

  3. Thank you for sharing the information about dehydrated skin and dry skin. And letting me know there is a difference. Thank you so much. I have the exfoilating and lip balm for my lips but don’t use it very often. Now I will. Thanks again !! It was very informative!! Judy

    1. Ashley Teague says:

      You’re welcome, Judy! I’m so happy to hear you’ve found this helpful 🙂

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