Dry skin vs. Dehydrated skin. What’s the difference?

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Have you always thought that dry skin and dehydrated skin are the same thing? Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. It’s a very common mix up that unfortunately even beauty therapists can at times get wrong – so I’m here to set the record straight on the differences between dry and dehydrated skin and also tell you the (very important) reasons why you need to know about it.

Skin type vs. Skin condition

Dry skin, like oily or combination skin, is a skin type. Your skin type is the balance of characteristics that your skin is naturally prone to. Those with dry skin lack the ideal balance of naturally occurring oil and sebum to maintain a soft and supple complexion.

Dehydrated skin on the other hand is a skin condition, meaning that it is not necessarily part of your natural set of skin characteristics and is caused by either external or internal environmental, lifestyle and health factors. The problem with dehydrated skin is not lack of oil – it’s crying out for something very different ­– H20. Yes, water!

Why knowing this makes all the difference

Confusing dry skin for dehydrated skin and dehydrated skin for dry skin can lead you around in circles when it comes to giving your skin what it really wants. Misdiagnosing your skin’s fundamental needs often results in wasting massive amounts of time and money on products that are not serving your skin’s best interests, nor will they give you the beautiful skin-balancing results you were hoping for.

For example, treating dehydrated skin with an oil-based product won’t be giving your skin what it is actually lacking, which is water-based moisture. This not only completely overlooks the core issue but also risks throwing your skin out of balance even more by loading it up with products it doesn’t want or need.

What dehydrated skin really wants

Dehydrated skin requires treatments that work to up the skin’s water levels, thereby increasing moisture and restoring balance for a clear, healthy and radiant look. What you want to look for are professional skin care products that contain hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a glycosaminoglycan – a chain of disaccharides, or sugars, found naturally in the human body and lauded for its exceptional ability to retain moisture in the skin. My top go-to products for maximum hyaluronic acid hydration factor are Restyfluid moisturiser and the ultra-luxe HD System Hyaluronic Delivery Masques, both by Bio-Therapeutic.

What dry skin really wants

Dry skin however benefits from being nourished with rich plant or nut based oils such as avocado oil or almond oil to drive up oil content in the skin and combat dry, uneven texture, flakiness and irritation. Look for cleansers, moisturisers and masque treatments containing ingredients such as these if your skin is naturally on the dry side.


Determining whether you are dry or dehydrated

As dry and dehydrated skin are often misdiagnosed, the best thing to do is to book yourself in for a professional skin consultation with a qualified skin therapist. They are able to use special skin diagnostic technology to accurately analyse oil and moisture content levels in your skin and determine the best course of treatment, so you can enjoy healthy skin harmony all year round!

Find a skin specialist in your area by calling The Global Beauty Group on 1300 006 607.


Marina is the Skincare Ambassador at The Global Beauty Group. Her devotion to understanding the science of skin is unmistakable. When it comes to laying the foundation for healthy skin Marina advises, “Never underestimate the power of a solid skincare regimen.”