The difference between dry and dehydrated skin

The difference between dry and dehydrated skin

The difference between dry skin and dehydrated skin and how to treat both. 

Because dry and dehydrated skin can look and feel similar, it can be difficult to know the difference and spot it on your skin. But distinguishing between dry and dehydrated is crucial to ensure you’re getting the right treatment, as they are actually quite distinct from one another. 

It may shock you to hear that hydration and moisturisation are two different things, and to find out which is best for your complexion - you must first distinguish between dehydrated and dry skin. So let’s delve into it, shall we?

What is dehydrated skin?

Dehydrated skin is a skin condition that occurs when there is a lack of water in the skin. Just like our bodies, our skin stores and retains water - and also like our bodies, when we don’t get enough water, our skin gets dehydrated too. And it might shock you to hear that this can actually happen to all skin types, even those with oily or combination skin. Dehydrated skin is usually noticeable by a dull appearance, and can start to show premature signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles. 

With dehydrated skin, you might notice dark under eye-circles or overall tired eye appearance, dullness, more sensitivity to fine lines and wrinkles, and itchiness. A great way to determine whether your skin is dry or dehydrated is by using the pinch test. While it’s not scientifically definitive, it’s a great place to start. 

What is the pinch test?

  1. Pinch a small amount of skin on your cheek and hold it for a few seconds. 
  2. If your skin snaps back, you’re likely not dehydrated and more likely to be dry. 
  3. If it takes a few moments to bounce back, this could be an indication that your skin is dehydrated. 
  4. Repeat it on any other areas of your skin as you like, for example, your chest, back or the back of your hand. 

What is dry skin?

Dry skin, on the other hand, isn’t related to your water retention. Unlike dehydrated skin which is categorised as a skin condition, dry skin is a skin type like combination or oily. When the skin lacks oils, lipids, and hydration the skin can appear flaky and dry. If you have a dry skin type you might notice; a scaly appearance, flakes, redness, and in some cases psoriasis, eczema or dermatitis. 

How do you treat dry skin and dehydrated skin?

Once you’ve established whether your skin is dry or dehydrated the work doesn’t stop there. Both dehydrated and dry skin types need slightly different treatments. For all people, no matter your skin type or condition, if you want to look and feel your best - hydration and moisturisation at the very least are non-negotiables. But this rings even more true if your skin tends to get dry or dehydrated. 

If you’re hydrating and moisturising, using hydrating ingredients first and then taking the steps necessary to seal that moisturiser in is your best recipe for success. Here’s a list of skincare ingredients that work well for each. 

The best skincare ingredients for both dry and dehydrated skin

Hyaluronic Acid 

Anyone and everyone can benefit from including this hydrating powerhouse in their skincare routine. Use hyaluronic acid both morning and night before applying your moisturisers or sunscreen. Skinsmiths includes Sodium Hyaluronate which is a smaller form of hyaluronic acid, designed to deeply penetrate, hydrate and plump the skin in almost all its serums and moisturisers. 


Ceramide-rich skincare has taken the world by storm recently for being a hydrating wonder ingredient. Both dry and dehydrated skin can benefit from incorporating ceramides into their routine. Ceramides are a skin-identical ingredient that reinforces and replenish the skin’s protective lipid barrier. They seal in moisture and smooth the utmost layers of the skin. 

UVA/UVB Filters

Organic chemical UV filters provide sherr broad-spectrum SPF30 protection. Everyone needs good sunscreen on hand, as it will help protect your skin from damage and prevent the skin from drying out more. 

Shea Butter

Shea Butter is rich in moisturising fatty acids and vitamins E, A and D, that all work to moisturise and nourish the skin while also supporting a healthy skin barrier. 

The best skincare ingredients for dry skin 


Oils such as grape seed, avocado, or hemp are a great way to hydrate and soothe dry skin. You can either buy an oil separately, or find products that incorporate them such as Skinsmiths Ultimate Renewal Serum, or the Gentle Cream Cleanser. 


Niacinamide is a bioactive form of Vitamin B3. It plays a role in healthy skin barrier function, which is crucial to repair and heal dry skin. The healthier your skin barrier, the more effective your skincare products will be. Niacinamide is also known to inhibit melanosome transfer resulting in a lightening effect that helps even skin tone. 

The best skincare ingredients for dehydrated skin 


Glycerine is a type of moisturising agent that pulls water into the outer layer of your skin from deeper levels. Glycerin is commonly used with another type of moisturising agent to trap the moisture it draws into the skin. This makes it an excellent ingredient for those who suffer from dehydrated skin. 


Squalane is a lightweight oil that is quickly absorbed into the skin, making it an excellent choice for those with dehydrated skin. It helps to lock in moisture and prevent water loss from the skin, which can help to improve skin texture and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. 

Aloe Vera 

Aloe Vera works to bind moisture into the skin, as well as soften hardened skin cells. All of this works to prevent water loss in the skin, which makes it a great ingredient if you have dehydrated skin. 

Ready to defeat dryness and dehydration?

If you’re still at a loss for whether your skin is dry or dehydrated, the good news is that as you can see above there is quite a bit of cross-over between which ingredients work best for each. Keep an eye out for brands and products that include some if not all of the non-negotiable ingredients you’re looking for. For example, oils might be better suited to dry skin, but they will also benefit those with dehydrated skin. 

Finding all the right ingredients and products for your specific skin needs can be really daunting and time-consuming. That’s where Skinsmiths rituals come to the rescue. Each of them is designed to target a certain skin concern such as dryness, ageing, redness or blemishes. Then, the experts have chosen and curated the products that work best to treat your specific skincare concern and put them all into one handy ritual so you can access all the treatments, ingredients and products that you need in one place. 

The Defeat Dryness PRO Essentials Kit contains all the hydrating deliciousness you could ever need and/or imagine including: 

Gentle Cream Cleanser 

Silky emollient-rich formula to gently remove make-up and daily impurities while injecting protective hydration to nourish dry and sensitive skin. Including Avocado and Hemp oil to soothe, repair and replenish the skin barrier. 

Ultimate Renewal Serum 

For the ultimate hydration boost. Inspired by the clinic, this plumping and lifting elixir is not just another hyaluronic serum. This serum includes peptides, niacinamide, glycol and hyaluronic acid - tick tick tick! 

PRO Collagen Eye Complex 

A ceramide-enriched targeted eye treatment – Our answer to taking care of the delicate skin around the eyes. 

Complete Recovery Moisturiser 

‘Advanced hydration to seal in moisture to repair and protect the skin barrier for healthier and younger-looking skin. This moisturiser incorporates ceramides, hyaluronic acid, shea butter and avocado oil. 

Daily Antioxidant Defence SPF30

You can’t forget sunscreen, and Skinsmiths moisturising sheer sunscreen provides daily-broad spectrum antioxidant protection, while also incorporating hyaluronic acid to moisturise and replenish. 

Dryness and dehydration can be incredibly frustrating and in some cases, painful. But with the right products and ingredients, these skin concerns are absolutely treatable and manageable. But if you get product paralysis with the overwhelming amount of choices - we totally get that! 

If you’re ready to wave goodbye to dryness and dehydration, try the Skinsmiths Defeat Dryness PRO Essentials Kit. It is designed specifically with these skin concerns in mind, and the experts at Skinsmiths have put years of expertise and knowledge into curating the perfect ingredient and product combinations. This means you don’t have to spend hours and hours researching all the conflicting opinions and advice, you can find it all in one easy-to-buy and use place. If you have any questions about the range, try using our chat feature on our website and one of our expert staff will get back to you.