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

The more I thought about your question, the better I realized it was.  On the surface (no pun intended :)) this seems easy.  But really it helps to understand what skin wants better to really answer this.

Skin wants:

  • An intact outer layer (epidermis) to defend against harsh soaps, bacteria, viruses, UV damage (light), etc.
  • Water to offset all the water we lose through our skin (called transepidermal water loss), which is MUCH more if the outer layer is damaged.  For example, think about a burn!
  • Plenty of healthy fats to keep the skin able to produce IT’S needed fats (lipids) like ceramides and cholesterols.
  • Protein to rebuild damaged or dying cells, because the epidermis (outer layer) normally turns over about every 30 days.
  • Protection from ultraviolet radiation (sun/light), especially if you have lighter skin, because it has very little natural melanin protection. Consequently, melanin creates our skin color.

Dry versus dehydrated skin:

With dry skin, the outer layer is flaking off!   Almost never due to protein deficiency, in the well-nourished, it usually means the something is irritating your skin.  Try using only a very bland cleanser (like CeraVe – no financial interest) and cream for a week or two.  Does the problem resolve?  You know then this problem is one of your regular skincare products. Add them back one week apart until you identify the culprit(s).   Or….are you taking a statin medication?  Consequently, some develop dry skin.  Can you increase your fish oil or omega 3 & 6s and get relief?  There are many causes and solutions, so please see your dermatologist if it persists.

With dehydrated skin, this may be related more to water loss through the skin.  See the paragraph above, because if your skin is irritated it won’t hang on to water as well.  Are you drinking enough water?   Are you taking diuretics for high blood pressure?  (See your doctor, don’t just stop them!)

Is crepiness around the mouth, cheeks, and chin related to the above?

Probably not!  Good skincare products will help you overall, but often volume loss in the face, and sun damage, contribute much more!  See your dermatologist for options.  Here’s a good skin care regimen start.

Hope this helps,
Dr. Brandith Irwin
Founder, SkinTour
Director, Madison Skin & Laser Center
Follow my skin tips and travels on Instagram!

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