Is my skin dry or dehydrated?

Pai Back to Life Hydration Serum and Avocado and Jojoba Hydrating Day Cream

Knowing the real difference between dry and dehydrated skin should heavily influence the skincare products you choose – particularly in cooler weather.

The words ‘dry’ and ‘dehydrated’ are often used interchangeably by people when describing their skin. However, there are key differences between the two. Just like dry and dehydrated skin mean different things, so does ‘hydration’ and ‘moisturisation’.

It therefore follows that understanding whether your skin is dry or dehydrated is key in helping you tailor your skincare routine.

Dry or dehydrated skin?

The key difference between dry and dehydrated skin is that one is a skin type and one is a skin condition.

On a basic level, ‘dry skin’ is a skin type. It’s the skin that you’re born with or develop over the years. ‘Dehydrated skin’ is a skin condition or temporary state that any skin type can suffer with.

Still not sure whether your skin is dry or dehydrated? Here’s a breakdown…

What is dry skin?

Dry skin produces less oil than normal skin types .Your skin’s natural oil, or sebum, helps to keep pores and the outer layers of the skin conditioned and protected. Without it, skin appears dry and flakey.

Those with dry skin are also more likely to suffer from skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema and dermatitis.

What is dehydrated skin?

Dehydrated skin is simply skin that’s lacking in moisture. Rather than dry or flakey, dehydrated skin will look and feel tight, dull and papery. Dehydrated skin can also encourage premature signs of aging, such as less elasticity and fine lines.

Any person can get dehydrated skin, no matter their skin type. You can have dry and dehydrated skin, and also oily and dehydrated skin.

How to treat dry vs dehydrated skin

Both dry and dehydrated skin will benefit from both hydration and moisturisation. But whether you have dry or dehydrated skin will determine which specific products you should use. Both require slightly different approaches. 

Dry skin

The key to addressing dry skin is moisturisation. To treat dry skin you should opt for a moisturiser that contains rich, fatty oils. These will make up for the lack of natural sebum.

For younger dry skin types, we recommend our Avocado & Jojoba Hydrating Day Cream. For more mature and dry skin types, our Age Confidence Cream.

Dehydrated skin

For dehydrated skin, it’s best to opt for a lightweight serum for a more concentrated treatment, such as our Back to Life Hydration Serum.

You also need to tackle dehydration from the inside-out, so upping your intake of fluids and ensuring you’re consuming lots of Essential Fatty Acids (Omegas) is key.

Facialist and Nutritional Therapist Lisa Knowles says:

“Drinking plenty of water will help, but eating natural, nutritious foods and keeping processed foods and drinks to a minimum will benefit your skin’s condition immensely. Try adding more organic fruit and vegetables to your daily diet.”

Dehydrated skin can also be exacerbated by environmental factors too. These include central heating, sun exposure and drinking too much alcohol or caffeine, which can all dehydrate the skin. So it’s worth keeping track of this too!

Whether you suffer from dry or dehydrated skin, or both, remember that moisturisation should always follow hydration. This means you should always use a hydrating serum before moisturiser. Your moisturiser is there to help seal in the hydration.

Feel confused by your complexion? Get in touch with one of our skincare experts on or book a free skincare consultation now.