Home > Beauty & Grooming > Skincare > Is your skin dry or dehydrated? Know the difference and fix the problem
Is your skin dry or dehydrated? Know the difference and fix the problem

You may be spending a lot of your time and money on new skincare products this year but you may still end up with flaky or parched skin. It’s time you understand the difference between dry and dehydrated skin. 

It’s only the second month of 2020 and there’s nothing better to do than to revisit a few basics of skincare and customise your skincare routine to suit your needs. Plus, we’re at this transition phase where the weather is no longer cold and it’s not full-fledged summer yet. That means issues that range from scratchy to dry-as-a-bone skin.


The questions you need to ask yourself is: Why is your skin always dry despite you having normal skin type? Why do dry skin products not work through the day? How do I make my skin look plump and dewy? The answer is simple — your skin is not dry, it’s just dehydrated. All skin types face this issue, not just dry-skinned ones.

Terms that are more often used interchangeably, there is quite a difference between dry and dehydrated skin. Treating both can make a big difference to how your skin feels and looks. “Dry skin is known to produce less sebum than normal skin, while dehydrated skin is just parched skin with no moisture at all,” says Dr Kiran Sethi, cosmetic dermatologist and founder of Isya Aesthetics, New Delhi. 

“Dehydrated skin can happen to varying skin types: Dry, oily skin, combination, or even sensitive skin. Often confused as the same, dry skin and dehydrated skin are NOT synonyms to each other”, says Dr Geetika Mittal Gupta of ISSAC LUXE, Delhi.

Take The Test

Are you intrigued? Let’s try a small test.

Pull your cheek to see how fast it bounces back. “If you pull the skin and the recoil takes longer than usual, typically that means its dehydrated,” confirms Sethi. 

“A simple way to know if you have dry skin is to wash your face and let your skin be for 10 seconds. If your skin feels stretchy, you mostly have dry skin,” adds Dr Gupta.  

Dos and don’ts 0f dehydrated skin

fix my curls review

Fine lines in 20s are often a sign of dehydrated skin, not ageing, says Susan Yara, a renowned beauty expert on YouTube. Dehydrated skin is often accompanied by redness or congestion, and can be easily treated by opting for a good, ingredient-oriented skincare routine. From cold weather to not drinking enough water and using over-drying products, all of these can lead to dull and dehydrated skin.

Other culprits that lead to dehydrated skin are excessive alcohol, sodas, air-conditioning, and caffeine. Small additions to your daily routine do count – alkaline water or lemon water help retain water in your body and make your skin look radiant in minutes. And a humidifier even during summers can make a big difference.

Most experts say using harsh soaps or cleansers either with SLS or salicylic acid can often strip your skin of its natural oils. So it’s important to balance out your skincare routine if you’re using an anti-acne cleanser with humectants, peptides (essentially amino acids) etc.

Do’s and Don’ts of Dry Skin


While you can’t change your skin type altogether, you can definitely avoid flaky skin. Remember you lack lipids to retain moisture, so heavy moisturisers are the way to go. Avoid SLS based foaming cleansers, make most of ceramides, humectants and occlusives. Instead of using salicylic acid, speak to your dermatologist about using azelaic acid or lactic acid. “Also Look for creams with a lot of Omega 3 fatty acids, remember sebum is oil and fat and that needs to be replenished,” says Dr Sethi. Make most of facial oils and hyaluronic acid to prevent trans epidermal water loss.

Lifestyle Asia Recommends: For Dry Skin

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer, Rs 2,550

Estee Lauder Revitalizing Supreme + Global Anti Ageing Cell Power Creme, Rs 7,500

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel, Rs 849

Dermalogica Super Rich Repair, Rs 5,490

The Face Shop Mango Seed Moisturizing Butter, Rs 2,649

Lifestyle Asia Recommends: For Dehydrated Skin

Avène Hydrance Intense Hydrating Serum, Rs 2,770

Glamglow Waterburst Hydrated Glow Moisturizer, Rs 4,200

Clinique Moisture Surge 72-Hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator, Rs 2,700

belif The True Cream Moisturizing Bomb, Rs 2,660

Clinique iD™: Hydrating Jelly + Active Cartridge for Uneven Skin Tone, Rs 3,800

Pictures via Getty Images & Shutterstock

Manvi Siddhanti

Manvi Siddhanti is a writer, editor and influencer based out of New Delhi. When she’s not writing on beauty and lifestyle, you’ll find her sipping on Chardonnay or bing watching Netflix.