Your skin can be a confusing thing.

So much so that it can take years to figure out your skincare routine, only to have it change again because of your environment, hormones, or lifestyle.

One of the biggest mistakes we usually make is confusing dehydrated skin with dry skin. After all, the two seem to paint a picture of a thirsty, parched landscape that’s dying for any form of moisture. The problem, however, is that they both couldn’t be more different, and here’s where it gets complicated.

To help us figure it out once and for all, we’ve enlisted the help of professional skin therapist and advanced instructor of Dermalogica Lydia Scheffey. With eight years of experience in the skincare industry, the brand expert knows a thing or two about keeping your skin’s health in top form all year round.

Here, she helps us dissect the two big skin issues, how to fix either (or both), and how you can also solve other problems that come with it, like acne, along the way.

What’s the difference between dry and dehydrated skin?

Dry skin is a skin type! Skin types are determined by your genetics (kind of like your hair colour). When you have dry skin, you will experience a lack of oil over the entire body.

Dehydrated skin is a skin condition. We acquire skin conditions through external and internal factors such as UV exposure, incorrect product choices, climate and environmental changes, medication, stress and lifestyle. The condition of our skin will fluctuate whereas our skin type remains constant. When you’re dehydrated, your skin lacks water content.

Is it possible to have both at the same time?

Absolutely! When you are dry and dehydrated, it’s important to use water-based products and oil-based products to balance your skin. Water-based products will add more hydration to your skin while oil-based products will replenish the oils that your skin is lacking if you have dry skin.

Is it possible for people who are living in humid countries in Singapore to have dry skin?

Yes! Dry skin is a skin type, which means it is determined by our genetics. We are born with our skin type, so even if you live in a humid country, you can still have dry skin.

Does simply drinking more water help either skin problems?

Drinking more water can help prevent your skin from becoming dehydrated. However, our skin is the largest organ in the body and it is external, so it’s the last to receive the water. I recommend incorporating a water-based product in your skin to keep your skin hydrated. I like to use Cooling Aqua Jelly for that.

What are some of the best skincare ingredients that will rehydrate dehydrated skin?

Hyaluronic acid holds up to 1,000 times its weight in water, so it’s very restoring for dehydrated skin! Aloe vera is also a great ingredient to hydrate the skin. 

What are the best skincare ingredients to use to moisturise dry skin?

Ceramides are very beneficial for dry skin as they lock in moisture and build up the barrier function of your skin (think of the barrier lipid layer as your skins first line of defence!). Antioxidants are another must for dry skin! They not only prevent the signs of aging, but also improve the appearance of dry skin, and maintain moisture. Plant oils and butters will deposit oils into the skin to moisturize your dry skin!

How can either skin conditions lead to acne, and how should people manage their skincare routine to solve both?

It’s important to note that any skin type can experience acne. This means that even if you have dry skin, you can still struggle with acne. If you’re skin is dehydrated, your pores can often create more oil to compensate for the lack of water content, thus causing a breakout.

For either concerns (dry or dehydrated), if you are struggling with acne, I recommend regular exfoliation and using spot treatments to clear and heal your breakouts.

How does constantly wearing a face mask complicate these skin issues and what can people do to alleviate the skin irritation?

Face masks can further irritate dry and/or dehydrated skin due to the friction! To prevent inflammation and irritation, I recommend washing your face with a creamy cleanser morning and night and applying a moisturizer before and after wearing a face mask. It’s also important to ensure you are switching your masks daily.

Dermalogica Clear Start is available online at Sephora here

Shatricia Nair
Shatricia Nair is a motoring, watches, and wellness writer who is perpetually knee-deep in the world of V8s, tourbillons, and the latest fitness trends. She is fuelled by peanut butter and three cups of coffee a day.