Home > Skincare Class: Dry vs. Dehydrated Skin

Skincare Class: Dry vs. Dehydrated Skin

Identifying your skin type and pinpointing what your skin needs is truly the key to great skin. As we are officially in the dead of winter (the coldest and driest days of the year), I thought it would be beneficial to discuss the difference between dry skin and dehydrated skin.

Dry Skin vs. Dehydrated Skin

Dry skin is a skin type characterized by lack of oil.

Dehydrated skin is more of a skin condition due to lack of water in the top layer of the skin. So, you can still have dehydrated skin despite having oily or combination skin.

Dry skin can feel flaky, itchy and uncomfortable. Common dry areas on the face are between the eyes, around eyebrows, forehead and corners of the mouth. Common dry areas on the body are lower legs, neck and inside of arms.

Characteristics of Dehydrated Skin

You can tell if you have dehydrated skin if you notice the following:

  • dullness
  • tightness
  • roughness
  • redness, inflammation and congestion
  • sensitive skin
  • exaggerated dark circles
  • shows signs of ageing (sagging/fine lines/deep wrinkles)

A quick test you can do is pinching your cheek. If you pinch with gentle pressure and see fine lines as opposed to your skin holding its shape, you have dehydrated skin.

Causes of Dehydrated Skin

  • Frequent hot showers/baths and hard water (all of these sap moisture from skin
  • Central heating/air conditioning (promotes dry conditions within your home)
  • The wrong skincare for your skin type (harsh cleaners and wimpy moisturizers are top offenders)
  • Aging (the slow down of cell turnover and the natural diminishing of water in the body as time rolls on)
  • Sun (UVA rays in sunlight boost oxidants in the skin, saps moisture, speeds up aging and increases free radicals in skin, therefore damaging it at a higher rate than anything else)

How To Treat Dry, Dehydrated Skin

Treating dry skin is relatively easy. Heavier moisturizers and water are your friend. Upping antioxidants in your diet is a dry skin fighter too that will boost your glow and end that whole dusty look.

Dehydrated skin is a little trickier though. The following tips can transform dehydrated skin to buttery soft skin you’re happy with:


Add a great serum to your routine…and my number one pic is anything with hyaluronic acid (HA) in it. Your skin already creates HA, but why not help it along? HA attracts water too.

Exfoliate Regularly

One of my favourite dryness fighters is a good exfoliation! Even a simple rub down in the shower with a washcloth will slough off any dead skin dulling your glow.

That build up of dead skin too prevents your favourite moisturizers from working (this is why dermaplaning is so beneficial for skin).

There are a few exfoliators I swear by, such as SkinMedica’s AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser and Dermalogica’s Microfoliant. Both are highly effective and do not contain any mechanical exfoliators that end up doing more damage than good.

STAY AWAY from exfoliants with crushed seeds, nuts, etc. When I look at St. Ives Apricot Scrub at the drugstore, I run away screaming. Why not just drag your face along a sandy coastline? Exfoliators such as St. Ives combine crushed shells that cause micro tears in skin which lead to inflammation. The inflammation leads to acne and redness.

On top of the crushed shells, the cream that the shells are mixed into is usually heavy and oppressive, leaving a comedogenic (acne-inducing) film on skin that further promotes zits.

Reach For A Good, Heavy Night Moisturizer

Use a heavy moisturizer at night. This will replenish moisture that much more effectively as skin does a lot of “deep repair” at night. In addition, we lose moisture while sleeping, so a heavy cream or moisturizer will counteract this effect.

Be sure to choose the right moisturizer for your skin – one that is non-comedogenic (does not promote acne). Once your skin heals, start using a retinol at night too (but easy does it as most cause flaking and dryness until your skin gets used to it).

A favourite of mine is Estée Lauder’s Nightwear Plus Detox Creme. It’s lighter than a lot of nighttime moisturizers and is loaded with the same antioxidants in Lauder’s best-selling Day Wear cream. Additionally, it’s affordable and leaves your skin baby smooth the next morning.

Pro tip: Splurge on a silk pillowcase. These don’t suck the moisture out of your skin like cotton ones do. They are much more gentle on your face also, therefore reducing the look of fine lines.

“Water Is The Essence of Wetness”

LOL – sorry. I recently watched Zoolander…

Drink as much water as you humanly can! Internal hydration shows in your skin. Eat as many veggies and fruits as you can (bonus points for water-rich ones like watermelon and cucumber), and foods with essential fatty acids (ex. salmon).

I assume that celery juice tastes as good as it sounds, but it is a hydration all-star. Choke it down first thing in the morning to start your day off on a hydrated start.

Skincare And The Seasons

Find out which skincare works best for you according to whatever season and switch up your routine accordingly.

I am a huge fan of Darphin Rose Hydra-Nourishing Oil Cream as it is heavy enough for the winter season…but I won’t use it in July. Alternatively, Dermalogica’s Active Moist moisturizes my skin perfectly over the summer months, but it’s a little too light for me during the Canadian winter (all this being said, they may work for your skin type, so try them out).

Trial and error is the best way to find those great products that will transform your skin, but it gets expensive. Ask for samples before splurging on something that may not work.

Humidifiers Are Skin’s Best Friend

Recently, my husband splurged on having a humidifier attached to our furnace (he’s obsessed with extending the life of our hardwood floors).

This right here, is possibly my number one piece of advice for dry skin sufferers – arm yourself with a humidifier. It worked like a charm and healed my eczema in record time.

You don’t have to break the bank either. Small humidifiers are sold at the drugstore – many for under $20, and I use my Saje Wellness diffuser all of the time. It’s on right now as I type!

I hope these tips help you. They most certainly work for me. Got any more tips? Drop them in the comments!

Dominique Baker
Dominique Baker

Dominique is a Canadian-based fashion and beauty influencer with a strong voice in Ottawa’s black community. Since launching her blog Style Domination in 2015, she has amassed a global fanbase. Dominique shares her life through beautiful imagery and compelling story-telling that speaks to her fans on a personal level. She’s been featured in The Guardian, Flare, The Kit and Cityline. She also hosts events for Dress for Success, the Gem Conference, and has been named a United Way Person 2 Know for the past three years.

Find me on: Web | Instagram


  1. erika
    February 3, 2020 / 11:04 am

    Great article!

    I love a daily green smoothie in the morning to keep me hydrated. berries, banana, kale, oat/almond/coconut milk are more exciting then choking down celery juice (lol!!), but hey to each their own!

    • Dominique
      February 3, 2020 / 11:07 am

      You know what, Little Dude? I’m thinking of investing in a juicer. You know that I actually love celery, and I’m reading so many benefits of drinking celery juice. I’m also looking at those Myron UV light-blocking jars to store the juices in. And yeah – your smoothies seem way more appetizing. LOL! I think I cannot handly kale. I get super bloated each time I consume it. And it tastes like what I imagine berber carpet would taste like. AND why are juicers more expensive than a car payment?

  2. February 10, 2020 / 8:24 am

    This is such an informative read dear. And a great roundup of products you have here too. Thanks a lot for sharing!

    Jessica | notjessfashion.com

    • Dominique
      February 24, 2020 / 7:08 pm

      Thank you!

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