The Primary Differences Between Dry Skin and Dehydrated Skin

Many people often use the terms dry skin and dehydrated skin interchangeably, assuming that they are one and the same. However, there are significant differences between the two conditions that affect how we should treat them. In this article, we will explore the nuances of these distinctions to help you navigate the coming seasonal changes. 

Dry Skin: Lack of Moisture

When we talk about dry skin, we are referring to a skin type that is lacking in moisture. This means that the skin does not have enough oil or lipids to keep it hydrated, and supple, and prevent TEWL aka transepidermal water loss. Dry skin is typically characterized by a dull appearance, rough texture, and occasionally flaky skin or patches. It is often caused by genetics, hormonal changes, and environmental factors such as harsh weather, seasonal changes, dry environments, or using harsh products on the skin that disrupt the barrier.


Skin Barrier Function

To understand why dry skin lacks moisture, we need to look at the role of the skin’s barrier function. The outermost layer of our skin, also known as the stratum corneum, acts as a protective barrier between our body and the environment. This barrier is made up of dead skin cells, lipids, and natural moisturizing factors (NMFs) that help to lock in moisture and prevent it from escaping. It also acts as a defense against UV radiation, pollution, and other harmful agents. When this barrier is compromised due to genetics or environmental factors, it can result in dry skin.


Dehydrated Skin: Lack of Water

In contrast to dry skin, dehydrated skin is a condition that results from a lack of water in the skin cells. This means that even if your skin has enough oil, it may still feel tight, itchy, and show signs of fine lines and wrinkles. One of the main causes of dehydrated skin is also a disruption in the skin’s barrier function. When this barrier is damaged, it becomes easier for water to escape from the skin, leading to dehydration. This damage can be caused by harsh products, low-level humidity environments, over-exfoliation, or even excessive exposure to hot water. Additionally, dehydrated skin can also be a symptom of an underlying medical condition such as eczema or psoriasis. It can also be a temporary condition that comes and goes, depending on the external factors affecting the skin.

The Link Between Dry and Dehydrated Skin

As we have seen, both dry and dehydrated skin can be caused by a disrupted skin barrier. It is essential to note that dry and dehydrated skin can go hand in hand. When the skin’s barrier is disrupted, it can lead to both conditions simultaneously. This means that even if you have an oily skin type, you may still experience dehydrated skin due to barrier dysfunction. This emphasizes the importance of maintaining a healthy skin barrier through proper skincare routines, products, and lifestyle habits.

Remember to always listen to your skin and seek professional help to achieve the healthy, glowing skin of your dreams.


Xoxo, Kristen



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