Are you dry or dehydrated?

I have been working with the skin for more than 10 years and I see a lot of clients who come in and tell me their skin is dry, but when I look at their skin it’s actually just dehydrated. So what’s the difference?

Although some of the symptoms can be similar, they are different concerns and are treated quite differently.

Dry skin is a skin TYPE, caused by a lack of OIL in the skin. It is identified by flakiness or roughness of the skin. Excessively dry skin can become sore and irritated if not treated. Although, it is possible for your skin type to change throughout the years, it is something that cannot necessarily be changed with the use of products. We can however, control the dryness and make it feel more comfortable by adding more oil into the skin.

Dehydrated skin is a skin CONCERN, caused by a lack of MOISTURE, or water, in the skin. It is not usually flaky, but can feel quite tight and look dull in appearance. Dehydration lines can appear. Because oil and water do no mix well, it is common for an oil skin to also be dehydrated. It is something that we can treat easily with products.

How can I treat my concern?

Dry skin:

The best thing to do is first, is look at your moisturiser. With very dry skin, a richer textured moisturiser is best, like Dermalogica’s Intense Moisture Balance, which also helps protect against the first signs of ageing. Using a treatment oil underneath your regular moisturiser also helps to add extra moisture into the skin. Phyto Replenish oil absorbs quickly to reinforce the skin’s protective barrier, lock in moisture and defend against free radical damage, leaving the skin feeling silky an soft. Make sure you always reapply creams in the evening. Night time is when your skin’s repair system works at its best so this is the best time to treat your skin.

If you are still finding your skin feels dry, or the creams absorb straight into the skin, look at the other products you are using. Make sure you are exfoliating 2-3 times a week to get rid of any excess dead skin cells. Dead skin can prevent products from absorbing properly, meaning you are not getting the best benefit from the products. Try Gentle Cream Exfoliant which uses AHA’s, BHA’s and fruit enzymes to break down dead skin cells naturally without the use of harsh granules. Simply apply and leave on the skin for a few minutes before rinsing. Your skin will feel smoother and look brighter.

Harsh cleansers that contain soap and face wipes can strip the skin of its natural oils, causing excess dryness and dehydration. Your skin should never feel tight after cleansing; it should complement your moisturiser. Try switching to a cream cleanser like Essential Cleansing Solution. Don’t forget to rebalance the skin’s pH with a toner before applying your chosen moisturiser.

Dehydrated Skin:

With a dehydrated skin, most people’s first reaction is to drink more water. Of course, this will definitely help, but if the body is generally dehydrated, it will use that water in other systems first before sending it to the skin; therefore you should never rely on it for optimum hydration. As with dry skin, I would always look at how you are cleansing your skin. Harsh chemicals, alcohols and foaming agents can dehydrate and strip the skin leaving it feeling tight and uncomfortable. A cream cleanser is best. Try Special Cleansing Gel, morning and night, which contains a naturally foaming extract that removes impurities and excess oils without stripping or drying the skin.

Use products that contain Hyaluronic acid, which holds up to 1000 times its weight in water, locking in moisture to maintain hydration levels. We recommend Skin Hydrating Booster daily, underneath your moisturiser, or Skin Hydrating masque twice a week to give your skin a boost.

Again, make sure you are exfoliating regularly to ensure proper absorption of products. We love Daily Resurfacer, which contains AHA’s to gently resurface and Hyaluronic acid to hydrate. For best results, use every evening after cleansing and finish with moisturiser.


If you are still unsure about what you should be using, book in a FREE consultation with any of our Dermalogica specialists, or treat yourself to a Bespoke Dermalogica Facial and let us pamper you using products chosen especially for your skin.

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