Is your skin dry… or is it dehydrated? Why NOT knowing the difference is holding you back from having better skin.

Is your skin dry… or is it dehydrated? Why NOT knowing the difference is holding you back from having better skin.

Lady's face with dry skin

I know you might be thinking, “wait, there’s a difference between the two?!” Yes there are absolutely is and knowing the difference, is going to be a total game changer when it comes to treating your skin the right way. It’s crucial to know the difference because when you don’t,  so many symptoms you are experiencing in your skin can lead you down a rabbit hole of products and treatments that will either not work for you, or potentially make your skin even worse.  Maintaining a balance of proper hydration and proper moisture, and knowing what to use when on your skin, is important to a glowing, youthful appearance. A lack of either can leave your skin feeling tight, dry, and thirsty. So what’s the difference? Let’s get into it.

Hydration vs. Moisture


Simply put: hydration refers to your skin’s water content, while moisture refers to its oil content. While dehydrated skin is a condition, dry skin is a skin type, meaning it will basically stay that way throughout your life unless it is affected by environmental factors, hormones, health issues and even age. Dry skin produces less oil overall, which is why we care for it differently than oily skin. Dehydrated skin can be the result of environmental stressors and weather, which is why, even if you’re an oilier type, you may notice more uncomfortable dryness or itchiness in the winter. Cold air and forced heating zap up the water in our skin, leaving us feeling “dry,” while we’re actually dehydrated.  Dehydration can also be caused by the misuse or overuse of harsh ingredients or scrubs. Meanwhile, dry skin lacks oil all year long, but can still be dehydrated, or lacking water, especially in the winter months. Are you still with me? Great!


How to Tell the Difference


If your skin type is dry, you’ll most likely experience the effects throughout your life. It doesn’t suddenly appear unless there has been a significant, environmental, hormonal or health change in your life. Skin can be dry, flaky, and itchy. It affects not only the skin on your face, but the skin on your body and scalp. You likely keep lotion on your hands all year round. Dryness feels uncomfortable and staying consistent with moisturizing helps keep that in check. Could you cleanse your face without applying a moisturizer after? No, You could never? Then, dry is likely what you are experiencing. 


On the other hand, dehydrated skin is something that can come and go in any skin type. It can affect anyone, no matter your skin type. Dry skin is a lack of oil, while dehydrated skin lacks water while still producing oil, so your skin can be oily and dehydrated at the same time. While it may also feel tight and dry, it can come with a whole other host of issues. When skin is dehydrated, the skin barrier is disrupted. As we talked about in our previous blog post on acne, keeping a healthy skin barrier is crucial to maintaining the appearance of healthy, glowing skin. A lack of water in your skin can lead to acne, inflammation, dullness, and redness. Under eye circles may appear darker, and you may notice wrinkles or lines in your skin that aren’t usually there.  


If you are dehydrated, you are likely experiencing new symptoms and sensations in your skin that are cropping up that haven’t typically been the norm for you in the past. Remember, any skin type can be dehydrated so don’t be too quick to dismiss the idea!

skin cream

How to Treat Dry Skin


If your skin type is dry, it’s important to learn how to treat it, as it’s going to stay that way. Thankfully, there are plenty of products out there to keep your skin moisturized and happy. Look for products with ceramides, which help to soothe skin and lock in moisture. A common ingredient in moisturizers, ceramides naturally occur in skin and can boost appearance and feel of skin when applied topically. Squalane is another commonly found ingredient that does wonders for dry skin, and can be found in moisturizers and facial oils. Oils in skincare can help restore lipids and lock in moisture. 


Lactic Acid gently exfoliates and hydrates without overstripping, which is ideal for dry skin. Lastly, consider adding an antioxidant to your routine. Antioxidants like Vitamin C, Vitamin E (the two work well together!), and niacinamide cancel out skin damaging free radicals, which can help keep your skin looking fresh and prevent premature aging. 


Be careful not to overdo it on active ingredients, as that can leave your skin feeling drier and more irritated. Most importantly, treat your skin kindly and pay attention to how it reacts to different ingredients and products. 


How to Treat Dehydrated Skin


When treating dehydrated skin, you want to look for products and ingredients that are going to address the hydration levels in the skin (aka the water) not lack of oils.  Look for a hyaluronic acid based serum or essence to add into your routine. Hyaluronic acid attracts water, which in turn hydrates and plumps your skin. Hyaluronic Acid can and should be used on any skin type as it hydrates and relieves that dry, itchy, often sensitive feeling without using oils.  Yes, even oily or acneic skin can benefit greatly if you think you are experiencing dehydration as well.   Pat your hyaluronic acid onto damp, freshly cleansed and toned skin, and immediately top with a moisturizer to lock everything in. The moisturizer step is essential, as skipping it can lead to water being drawn OUT of your skin - no thank you! HA also has anti-aging benefits, as it plumps your skin for a smoother, bouncier appearance, and can help prevent and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Who doesn’t love a multi-tasker?!


As dehydrated skin is often caused by misusing skincare products or being too harsh on your skin, it’s important to take a look at your routine. You may want to back off of your most potent products until your skin barrier returns to its healthy, radiant self. Use a gentle cleanser along with products that are hydrating, moisturizing, and soothing. When you add your other products back in, be sure to do it gently and slowly. While acids, antioxidants, and retinoids can have fabulous results on skin, overuse can cause many issues - and a whole lot of frustration. Be gentle with your skin, use products as directed, and simplify your routine if it’s too much for your skin to take. 


Whether your skin is dry, dehydrated, or both, The Spa Curator has you covered with a whole selection of products to restore water and moisture. A disrupted skin barrier, lack of oil, and lack of water can all contribute to premature aging. Healthy skin looks more youthful and radiant. Be gentle and make sure you’re using the correct products in the correct frequency - your skin will thank you! And, as always, no matter your skin type or condition, using SPF daily will help keep your skin barrier in check and prevent future damage. 


So tell us, do you have dry or dehydrated skin?  What was your greatest takeaway?  Let us know in the comments below!


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