Dry vs Dehydrated Skin: What’s the Difference?

Is your skin dry or dehydrated, darling? Learn the differences between dry vs dehydrated skin and discover the best ways to address these common skin concerns.

Darlings, is your skin dry, dehydrated, or perhaps both? Learning the differences between dry vs dehydrated skin will help you to choose the perfect skincare products to revive the look and feel of your skin.

Discover the differences between dry and dehydrated skin below, as well as the key skincare steps you can take to tackle each of these common concerns.

Dry vs Dehydrated Skin model shot

What’s the Difference Between Dry vs Dehydrated Skin?

Our skin can become dry or dehydrated – a lot of people confuse being dehydrated and having dry skin, but they are separate skin concerns. Skin can be dry and dehydrated at the same time but understanding the key differences between the two will help you to remedy your skin concerns.

Dry skin and dry patches are caused by a lack of oil in the skin whether that’s due to environmental factors like cold weather drying out the skin or having a naturally dry skin type. While anyone can experience dry patches, dry skin is a genetic skin type that makes you prone to dryness on the face and body.

Dehydrated skin on the other hand is down to water loss from the skin, which can be caused by factors like not drinking enough water; prolonged exposure to sunlight; and low humidity. Dehydration is a skin concern rather than a skin type; every skin type can become dehydrated - even oily skin.

Characteristics of Dry Skin

Dry skin is a skin type that is prone to flaking and chapping. It often feels tight to the touch and is more susceptible to skin concerns such as redness, sensitivity, itching and inflammation. When skin is dry, you are unlikely to experience oiliness on the face and instead may contend with dry patches, eczema, or psoriasis. Skin can feel dry all over your face or in localised areas – generally in parts of the face that produce less oil such as the lips, cheeks and around the nose.

Edna Magic Cream model shot

Characteristics of Dehydrated Skin

If your skin becomes dehydrated, you will notice that your complexion appears tired and dull. Dehydrated skin can have a greyish tone – especially on deeper complexions – and may feel tender to the touch. Dehydration can cause dark circles to look more apparent and can accentuate the appearance of fine lines in the skin. If you feel your skin is dehydrated, try gently pinching your face and observing how slowly your skin returns to its natural pigmentation – if it takes a moderate amount of time to return to normal, it may be dehydrated.

Aliana Water Cream model shot

Can All Skin Types Become Dry?

If you experience dry skin frequently, then it is likely that you have the dry skin type; this means that you may have fewer oil-producing glands in your skin and are genetically predisposed to becoming dry. 

Normal, combination and oily skin can also experience dryness and dry patches when exposed to stressors such as severe cold weather and harsh winds. Combination skin is particularly prone to dry patches as a result of its tendencies to be both dry and oily in different areas. As dryness is caused by a lack of oil in the skin, oily skin types experience dry skin much less regularly, however, they can still display dry patches now and again.

Can All Skin Types Become Dehydrated?

Having dehydrated skin is a skin concern rather than a skin type like dry, oily, normal and combination. Every skin type can become dehydrated due to a lack of water in the skin, and so everyone is susceptible to dehydration. 

Since dehydrated skin is caused by water loss rather than lack of oil, even oily skin can become dehydrated. No matter your skin type, it is important to regularly hydrate your skin to prevent it from becoming dehydrated.

Causes of Dry Skin

Your skin can be genetically predisposed to being dry as a result of having fewer oil producing glands – this is known as having the dry skin type. Dryness can also be caused by external factors, like climate and temperature sometimes playing large roles in drying out the skin. Skin can become dry due to being exposed to dry air, harsh winds, central heating and hot baths and showers. Some soaps and skincare products can also feel stripping on the skin, removing its natural oils and causing it to become dry.

Causes of Dehydrated Skin

The main cause of dehydrated skin is not consuming enough water – if you aren’t drinking enough water, darlings, your skin will certainly become dehydrated. One of the fastest ways that our skin becomes dehydrated is through exposure to UV rays. Other external factors that dehydrate your skin include cold climates that can sap the skin of its moisture; consuming alcohol which is a natural dehydrant; and emotional factors such as stress, fatigue and overtiredness.

How To Moisturise Dry Skin

When moisturising dry skin, the goal is to replenish the moisture that the skin is lacking or has lost. I recommend washing your face with a gentle, non-stripping cleanser and lukewarm water, then applying face mist, toner and serum, before reaching for a moisturiser to help seal in all the skincare benefits.

I recommend reaching for a rich cream formula that absorbs comfortably and nourishes the skin throughout the day. Choose a face cream that contains hydrating humectants like hyaluronic acid and nourishing, moisturising ingredients like shea butter to give dry skin the moisture boost that it needs.

Tilbury Tip: Charlotte’s Magic Cream is my essential day cream for dry skin, darlings! It is a rich cream moisturiser that revives the look of dry skin, helping it to look smoother, plumper and lit from within.

Skincare Routine for Dry Skin still life

How To Hydrate Dehydrated Skin

When your skin is dehydrated, it’s important to reach for products that flood the skin with hydration. To effectively hydrate your skin, begin by applying a face mist and toner with hydrating ingredients (like Charlotte’s Magic Hydrator Mist with Hyaluronic Mesh Technology and Glow Toner with Sodium Hyaluronate). These thinner formulas will help the skincare that follows to penetrate deeper into the skin barrier for best results! 

Then, reach for a hydrating face serum and moisturiser combination to drench and revive your dehydrated skin. Choosing serums and moisturisers that contain skin barrier-strengthening ingredients like niacinamide to help lock in moisture, and brightening ingredients like vitamin C that help to illuminate the appearance of a dull complexion is the secret to healthy, hydrated skin!

I recommend potent serum like Charlotte’s Magic Serum Crystal Elixir which is enriched with hydration powerhouse Polyglutamic Acid (a humectant that’s 4X more hydrating than Hyaluronic Acid), and a silky gel-cream moisturiser like Charlotte's Magic Water Cream to deliver 100 HOURS of HYDRATION** and combat dehydrated skin. 

Finally, apply a high-factor sunscreen like my Invisible UV Flawless Poreless Primer with SPF 50 to help prevent UV rays from dehydrating your skin throughout the day!

Tilbury Tip: Charlotte’s Magic Water Cream is my gel moisturiser for generation dehydration! It’s my secret to drenching dehydrated skin with 100-hour hydration!**

Dehydrated Skin Routine still life

How to Help Prevent Skin from Becoming Dry

  1. Model applying Super Radiance Resurfacing Facial to the back of the hand

    Exfoliate regularly

    As dry skin is prone to flaking, exfoliating regularly is a means of helping to remove dead skin cells and creates a smoother-looking canvas. Some exfoliators can be rough on skin, and so it’s important to use a gentle formula that agrees with your dry skin. I recommend exfoliating every three days using Super Radiance Resurfacing Facial, following up with a hydrating serum like Charlotte’s Magic Serum Crystal Elixir and an SPF50 sunscreen like Invisible UV Flawless Poreless Primer to protect your resurfaced skin from UV rays. This should give your skin cells time to naturally turnover and help to gently resurface any dry patches for smoother-looking skin.

    Shop exfoliator

  2. Model washing their face with Goddess Cleansing Ritual

    Wash your face with warm rather than hot water

    Hot water from the sink or shower can cause skin to become dry. The drastic change in temperature from extremely hot to room temperature can lead to skin losing important moisture; by switching from hot to warm water when bathing, showering, and performing your skincare routine, you can help to preserve a healthy level of moisture within your skin and start your day with a well-moisturised, fresh-faced canvas.

  3. Collagen Superfusion Facial Oil with flower petal backdrop

    Layer your moisturisers and face oil

    Every skin type needs to be moisturised, but dry skin appreciates a heavier dose of moisture to compensate for its low oil levels. Layering a rich, creamy moisturiser like Charlotte’s Magic Cream with a luxuriant face oil like Collagen Superfusion Facial Oil provides the skin with deeper hydration and nourishment. You can even layer moisturisers, using Charlotte’s Magic Cream to nourish and revive your dry skin and Charlotte’s Magic Water Cream to flood the skin with hydration.

How to Help Prevent Skin from Becoming Dehydrated

  1. Charlotte's Magic Water Cream submerged in water

    Drink plenty of water

    Drink your water, darlings! It’s really that simple; hydration begins from within and drinking plenty of water will make all the difference to your dehydrated skin. It is recommended that we should all be drinking between 1.5-2L of water a day which is equivalent to 6-8 cups. By quenching your thirsty skin by drinking the advised amount of water, you can help to hydrate dull-looking, dehydrated skin while receiving a plethora of other health benefits thanks to the wonders of water.

  2. Model wearing Magic Water Cream for hydrated, glowing skin

    Use a humidifier indoors

    Humidifiers help to add moisture to the air in your home, which in turn helps to maintain the moisture levels in your skin. Using a humidifier processes air through a damp filter to create water vapour, which then evaporates into the air to increase the humidity level. Factors such as central heating, air conditioning and fireplaces can decrease humidity in your home, creating dry air that’s dehydrating for the skin. Switching on a humidifier will help to increase moisture in the air, creating a comfortable environment that doesn’t feel dehydrating and harsh on skin.

  3. Charlotte's Magic Hydrator Mist standing in water

    Apply a face mist throughout the day

    For around-the-clock hydration, apply a face mist to give dehydrated skin an extra fix of hydrating skincare benefits. Whenever your skin feels tired, dehydrated, and in need of a boost, applying a fine mist of a moisture-boosting formula like Charlotte’s Magic Hydrator Mist helps to instantly hydrate the complexion. Face mists feel instantly refreshing and give the face a dewy-looking glow, helping you to look and feel hydrated all throughout the day. Keep your face mist in your bag as a glow-on-the-go essential and douse your dehydrated skin with moisture anytime, anywhere!

  4. Flatlay of Charlotte Tilbury's supercharged skincare products

    Be consistent with your skincare routine

    The secret to gorgeous, glowing skin is being consistent with your skincare routine! Whatever your skin type, darlings – whether you’re dry, oily, normal or combination – applying a supercharged skincare routine that’s tailored to the individual needs of your skin is the key to having your best skin day, every day. Use hydrating skincare products morning and night to help keep dehydration at bay and feed your skin with ingredients that account for its skin concerns and allow it to flourish.

*To learn more about how Charlotte Tilbury Beauty collects and processes your personal information, including the images you provide in the Dehydration Analysis Tool, please see our Biometric Processing Notice and Privacy Policy. Your results may be affected by the quality of the image submitted i.e., lighting, or camera quality.

**Tested on 33 people.