There is a reason why dermatologists ask you to listen to your skin closely before you start dealing with its issues. Different skin concerns can often look like another and if you mistake one for something else, you might end up making your skin concern worse. This is especially true when you have two skin concerns that look alike but have vastly different approaches in terms of appropriate treatment. Take acne and milia for instance - both these skin concerns present themselves in the same manner, with bumps on the skin, but while milia is harmless and often subsides on its own, acne needs to be treated in order to avoid scarring and other kinds of permanent damage to the skin. Similarly, if you take our topic at hand, dehydrated skin vs dry skin - the two differ vastly from one another and need to be dealt with in entirely separate ways.

 

What is the difference between dry and dehydrated skin

What is the difference between dry and dehydrated skin

Even though dehydrated skin and dryness seem like terms that can be used interchangeably, there is a key difference between the two. Dry skin is an actual skin type that occurs when there is a lack of lipids in your skin. This leads to your skin lacking the inherent ability to form a protective barrier on your skin that stops moisture from leaking throughout the day.

On the other hand, dehydration happens due to the lack of water in the skin. Dehydration even presents different symptoms like your skin looking dull and feeling tight, which may not always be seen with dry skin. With such a distinction between the two, it is necessary to look at the causes for both in detail, in order to remedy them the right way. Here's how you can understand if your skin is actually dry or just feeling dehydrated, and how to deal with each concern.

 

Causes of dehydrated skin

Causes of dehydrated skin

As mentioned earlier, skin dehydration is nothing but the lack of actual water in your skin. Your skin gets dehydrated along with your body, meaning any kind of excessive loss of fluids from your body will lead to your skin feeling dehydrated as well. Some of these factors can be a tendency to sweat excessively, working out, drinking less amounts of water, vomiting, inflammation in the body (fever), diarrhea or even getting sunburnt.

A simple way to test that your body is lacking water is to pinch the wrinkly skin on the back of your finger, at the fold. If the skin subsides on its own quickly, your skin is properly hydrated. If the skin stays clumped on the top and takes a couple of seconds to settle down, then there is a lack of hydration.

 

Symptoms of dehydrated skin

Symptoms of dehydrated skin

Dehydrated skin presents unique symptoms that can be used to identify the condition. Some of the things to watch out for are -

  • Shadows around the nose - The indentation around the nose area might become the first sign of dehydration as the skin here gets dark and shadowy.
  • Itchy skin - Some of the factors that lead to dehydrated skin feeling itchy are harsh weather conditions, excessive physical activity leading to itchy sweat, dry air-conditioning, etc.
  • Dark circles - The reason why the morning after a night of drinking has you wake up with sunken eyes is dehydration. This is because a dehydrated body is incapable of maintaining healthy blood flow to the skin, leading to a dark under eye area that is quite prominent.
  • Dull complexion - When your skin lacks water, it can lead to a loss of elasticity and plumpness. This lack of water manifests itself in the form of skin that looks dull, thirsty and in desperate need of a hydration boost.

 

Causes of dry skin

Causes of dry skin

As opposed to dehydrated skin, dry skin is actually a skin type that has less to do with the state of hydration of your body as compared to how your skin is on its own. Some of the major causes of dry skin are genetics and age - if your parents and siblings have dry skin, chances are you will have dry skin as well.

Similarly, your skin tends to get drier as you age, with women over 40 struggling with dry skin majorly. Some of the external factors that contribute to dry skin are climates with dry air, improper showering habits like using really hot water, using excessively drying skincare products, and habits like smoking and alcohol consumption.

 

Symptoms of dry skin

Symptoms of dry skin

As compared to dehydrated skin, unchecked dry skin has symptoms that range from manageable to severe, that may need clinical intervention -

  • Patchy skin - Unlike dehydrated skin that does not present itself with any skin texture changes, dry skin can turn patchy if not taken care of. This is because of a prolonged lack of moisture in the skin that can affect skin texture in the long run.
  • Flaky skin - Dry skin types can often experience peeling and flaking of the skin, especially in cold and harsh weather conditions. The peeling can range from mild to severe, with treatments ranging from OTC creams to dermatologist-recommended prescription emollients.
  • Cracked skin - Often presented in a much worse condition on the heels and elbows, dry skin can sometimes crack; with some even experiencing bleeding, especially in the lips.
  • Stinging or burning sensation - Excessively dry skin is the primary reason for heightened skin sensitivity, leading to tingling or burning sensation when you use certain products.

 

How to treat dehydrated skin

How to deal with dehydrated skin

Dehydrated skin is a pretty manageable condition, just remember these following tips -

  • Keep facial mists handy - If your skin tends to get dehydrated a lot, keep facial mists handy.
  • Switch to moisturising cleansers - Soaps or harsh cleansers can strip the hydration from your skin, making it prone to dullness. Switch to gentle and moisturising cleansers that work on hydrating your skin while cleansing it. Gel-based and water-based cleansers are a good pick for that.  
  • Include an essence in your skincare routine - Essences are lightweight like facial toners, but without the mattifying effect. They are applied right after cleansing your face to replace whatever moisture loss the face wash has caused. Essences infused with hyaluronic acid, panthenol, algae extract, vitamins C and E will help reset parched skin and keep it hydrated for longer.  
  • Try to maintain the hydration levels in your body - There is only so much you can do for your skin from the outside to maintain hydrated skin, so make sure to consume ample amounts of water, limit your caffeine and alcohol intake, hydrate during physical activity and avoid prolonged time in air-conditioned spaces. A good tip is to invest in a humidifier to get you through the rough winter months safely.

 

How to treat dry skin

How to treat dry skin

With dry skin, you might need to make some long-term skincare and lifestyle changes, namely -

  • Switch to thick creams - When dealing with dry skin, you need thicker creams instead of lotions.
  • Improve your showering habits - Steer clear of hot water baths and let your skin air-dry in order to avoid agitating your skin too much. Stick to gentle, fragrance-free cleansers that do not irritate your overly sensitised skin.
  • Keep up with an exfoliating routine - Dry skin tends to have build up of dead skin cells that can further cut off the moisture you try to provide it with other products. Use a physical or chemical exfoliant at least twice a week to slough off the dead skin cells and maintain fresh skin.
  • Consult a dermatologist - Severe dry skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis needs a dermatologist's consultation to help manage. So make sure you are seeing an expert instead of trying to remedy these conditions on your own.

 

FAQs about dehydrated skin vs dry skin

FAQs about dehydrated skin vs dry skin

Q. What are the best ingredients to deal with dehydrated skin?

A. To help deal with dehydrated skin, look for ingredients like glycerin, aloe vera, coconut water, rose water, and green tea to instantly hydrate your skin.

Q. What are the best ingredients to deal with dry skin?

A. To help deal with dry skin, look for ingredients like ceramides, urea, antioxidants, plant-based oils, shea butter and squalene in your products. These ingredients help strengthen the lipid barrier of your skin to prevent moisture loss.