Is your skin dry or dehydrated?


Is Your Skin Dry or Dehydrated?

— Discover the difference between these two common skin concerns and how to care for each condition.



Elle Macleman
Biochemist &
Product Specialist


As we move in to the cooler months our skin tends to start feeling a little drier. The cool change causes our pores to tighten and our skin reduces the amount of oil it produces. Along with heating, wind and low humidity, our skin can be left feeling a little parched. But is our skin really dry? Well, probably not. The difference between dry and dehydrated skin is often misunderstood and leads us to use products that are too heavy for our skin, leaving us with breakouts and with our skin still feeling dry. So, for the benefit of our skin in battling the winter months, let me break it down…

Image via @ mente_flores

Image via @mente_flores


Dehydrated skin

Dehydrated skin is probably the most common cause of feeling dry. Dehydration is a condition where the skin is lacking water-based moisture and not oil, making your skin look dull, giving you darker under eye circles and can be the cause of inflammation and congestion. One of the biggest misconceptions with dehydrated skin is that you can’t be oily/combination and still be dehydrated. Not true - dehydration can often be the cause of the imbalance in oil production.

Many things can affect your skin’s hydration levels such as environment, weather, stress, caffeine, alcohol, diet, really the list goes on.

Some things you can do to address the underlying dehydration: 

Increase Your Water Intake

In order to rebalance the water levels in the skin we need to increase our water consumption. During winter months, we tend to drink a little less than we should, so making sure you are drinking your 8 glasses a day or more if you’ve hit that morning yoga class  allows your body to adequately distribute water to your cells, making them plump up and work efficiently. 

Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Hyaluronic Acid is a molecule that holds 1000x its weight in water pulling that much needed water based moisture in to your skin, reducing inflammation and increasing your skin’s resilience to harsh environments.

Use a Light Moisturiser at Night

Moisturisers are generally best to use during the day as the stop the skin from losing moisture to the weather and act as a protective barrier against pollution, heating and wind. However during the winter months bringing a light moisturiser like the Odacité Oleosomes Time Release Delivery Crème in to your routine can prevent moisture loss overnight.

Image via  @conscious.kin

Image via @conscious.kin


Dry Skin

Truly dry skin is actually quite uncommon and is classified as a skin type rather than a condition. Dry skin is when the skin has fewer oil gland that are producing sebum, leaving the skin feeling flaky, itchy and uncomfortable. This reduction in oil production tends to happen with age as the oil glands stop producing, however can affect anyone. The treatments for dry skin tend to be a little different to dehydrated skin as with this skin type its oil that is lacking not just water.

A few things you can do to keep the dryness under control:

Reduce the amount of acids in your routine

Reducing the use of acids such as glycolic and salicylic in your routine can help reduce dryness. While it can be tempting to use an acid to rid yourself of the flakiness, acids can break down the skin mantle barrier reducing the skin’s ability to retain moisture. That’s not to say you shouldn’t exfoliate as this helps remove dead skin cells from the surface allowing for your moisturiser to work a little better - instead, opt for an enzyme-based exfoliant like the Josh Rosebrook Active Enzyme Exfoliator or a gentle physical exfoliator.

Use a heavy moisturiser at night

Just like dehydrated skin, dry skin needs protection from losing moisture at night. Where dehydrated skin needs a light moisture to keep water-based moisture in, dry skin needs a heavy moisturiser like Sodashi’s Nourishing Repair Treatment, to replace the oils the skin is not producing on its own.

Some more tips for dry and dehydrated skin

While the underlying cause of skin feeling dry differs between dry and dehydrated skin, there are a couple of things that both skin types can benefit from:

  • Using a humidifier during cooler months when the humidity levels tend to be lower. This is compounded by the use of heaters which wick moisture out of the air. Replacing the moisture in the air can help to reduce your skin losing water to the air.

  • Incorporate omegas into your diet in order to help balance your skin’s production of oil.

However, the best thing you can do to keep your skin happy through the winter months is to investigate why you’re feeling dry, whether it is dehydration or lack of oils and give your skin what it really needs.



Do you suffer from surface level dryness or chronic dehydration?

What are some tools that you’ve discovered work best in managing your oil and water balance?

Let us know via commenting below.

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