Dry skin and dehydrated skin may sound very similar, but in fact these are two separate skin conditions that need very different approaches to healing. Just as you may see the terms “moisturization” and “hydration” used interchangeably when talking about skincare, it’s important to define what these terms mean to find the best solution for your skincare problems.
What is The Difference Between Dry Skin and Dehydrated Skin?
In the simplest terms: dry skin lacks oil, while dehydrated skin lacks water. While this may sound simple, only by understanding the root causes behind lack of oil or water in the skin can you start to heal. Luckily, Japanese skincare solutions offer effective treatments for both dry and dehydrated skin.
Of course, it is important to combine not only quality products, but also lifestyle changes for issues related to dry or dehydrated skin. But before we delve into that, let’s look closer at each term.
What is Dry Skin?
Dry skin is a skin type caused by a lack of sebum production in the skin. This can be caused by genetics, as well as external factors. External factors that contribute to dry skin can include:
- The weather
- Taking long, hot showers
- Use of harsh soaps, or detergents
Dry skin often appears flaky, rough, and tight. Those with severe dry skin may also experience symptoms such as redness or itchiness.
What is Dehydrated Skin?
Dehydrated skin is usually only a temporary state caused by a lack of water in the uppermost layer of the skin, disrupting the skin’s protective barrier function. Healthy skin should contain around 30% water, which is essential for maintaining skin’s strength, elasticity, and plumpness. If your skin loses more water than it takes in, it will become dehydrated. This can manifest in several ways, including:
- Fine lines
Dehydrated skin can also cause the skin to produce excess oil in an attempt to balance itself, which can lead to acne and breakouts.
Causes of Dehydrated Skin
Dehydrated skin can be caused by a wide array of factors, including:
How Do You Know if You Have Dehydrated or Dry Skin?
One of the easiest ways to tell if you are dehydrated is to do what is known as the “pinch test”. Simply pinch a small amount of skin on your cheek, abdomen, chest, or back of your hand and hold for a few seconds. If your skin snaps back into place quickly, you are likely not dehydrated. If your skin takes more than a few moments to bounce back to normal, you are likely dehydrated.
Dryness is one of the five primary skin types (normal, oily, combination, sensitive, or dry). Age also can contribute to dry skin as your skin’s ability to produce sebum over time declines, especially after age 40.
How Do I Know If My Skin Needs Moisture or Hydration?
If your skin is dry, it is lacking oil and therefore needs moisturizing products and care. If your skin is dehydrated, your skin is lacking water and needs hydrating products and care. Remember that while hydration makes skin feel soft, it cannot stay soft if there is no oil to protect that hydration from escaping.
Water escapes our skin in a process known as Transepidermal Water Loss, or “TEWL”. TEWL is the amount of water that evaporates through your skin passively due to water vapor pressure gradient on both sides of the skin barrier. This is why it is so important to build up and protect your skin's barrier function, to slow down TEWL and help retain moisture and hydration in the skin.