Cold weather is quickly coming upon us, and many people struggling with itchy or flaky skin are not quite prepared for it. How do you know whether your skin is dehydrated or dry? Knowing the difference between dry skin and dehydrated skin is the first step in targeting your ideal skincare regimen. We did the research in identifying the two so you don’t have to.

How To Tell The Difference

Many of the symptoms for dry skin and dehydrated skin are fairly similar, making it difficult to distinguish the difference. How do you tell whether your skin is dry or whether you’re lacking water? A great tip to remember is that dehydration is more of a skin condition and dryness is a skin type.

If you struggle more with dull skin, a tired appearance, and/or itchiness, then you’re probably dealing with dehydration. Dehydration happens when there is a lack of water in your skin cells, causing symptoms of premature aging to appear. Severe dehydration symptoms can include dizziness, fatigue, and sunken eyes.

If your struggle seems to be more along the lines of flaky, itchy skin, you more than likely have dry skin. Dry skin is caused by your skin not producing enough oil and is probably a genetic factor. Other causes can be aging, frequent swimming in chlorinated pools, or working a job that has you immersed in water constantly.

While both have very similar symptoms, there are discernible differences that can help you determine what is causing your skin irritations. Of course, the most accurate way to determine your skin type is to see a dermatologist. But if you have the time to try out different products and wait for results, we’ve gathered information on your first steps to clearer skin.

How To Approach Treatment

How To Approach Treatment

The first step in any type of treatment is finding out what the root cause is so you know what you’re dealing with. Now that you know the difference between dry and dehydrated, it should be easy to pinpoint what course of action to take to treat your skin.

Both types need their skin to be moisturized and hydrated. Since you know what skin type you have, you should know what your primary focus should be. If you have dehydrated skin, you should focus more on your water intake. If you have dry skin, you should focus more on moisturizing.

The best lotion products l contain glycerin, citric acid, or aloe and are great for dehydrated skin. Especially if they’re water-rich and not of a heavy texture. Serums full of hyaluronic acid are also great to add to your routine because they boost your skin’s ability to produce its own. Avoiding harsh skincare products and limit  caffeine and alcohol to  reduce your symptoms.

Your skin naturally produces hyaluronic acid to help your body maintain moisture. When your body is unable to produce the amount needed, or when outside elements depleted your supply, you can use topical serums to help bounce back your supply . The hyaluronic acid works as a sponge that can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water. It also has antioxidant properties so it can be used as protection against elemental aggressors like free radicals.

Glycerin works by attracting water from the environment to hydrate your skin, which makes it a humectant. Not only does it penetrate moisture deep into your skin cells, but it also creates a protective layering to keep the moisture locked in.

Citric acid is a weak acid that helps repair your skin’s barrier function. It works by maintaining the ideal level of acidic pH needed in certain areas of your skin. Aloe can be great for hydrating your skin if used in moderation. It contains Vitamins A and C, antioxidants, enzymes, and is anti-inflammatories making it perfect to soothe your skin. If you’re looking for treatments for dry skin though, aim for products that contain plant oils, shea butter, or nut and seed oils. Avoiding hot showers and moisturizing while your skin is still moist can be beneficial as well. The weather can really have an effect if you struggle with dry skin, so be sure to moisturize during the drier months.

There are so many different types of plant oils to choose from and each has its own special focus, so do some research on what oil would be the most beneficial for you. Some of the more popular oils you’ll find are argan oil, grapeseed oil, and coconut oil. Using natural products and oils are ideal because, with them, you can avoid irritants such as perfumes or other cheap additives that would dry out your skin.

Shea butter works as an emollient, meaning it helps lock moisture into the skin to create baby soft skin. It’s also anti-aging and anti-inflammatory so it’ll smooth your skin while also working against the clock. It usually has a creamy texture to it that makes it feel luxurious while applying, which can absolutely be a bonus.

Using nut or seed oils are a great, natural way to moisturize your skin. While it may feel strange picking out your skincare from the grocery aisle, chemicals can dry out your skin, so a more natural approach may be beneficial. Oils such as avocado oil, olive oil, and almond oil all have healing potentials for dry skin. Macadamia nut oil is great for anyone with severely dry skin because it has a high fatty acid profile.

Seeing a dermatologist would also be beneficial, regardless of your skin type, to help create a skincare routine around your skin’s needs. They would also be able to help pinpoint the root causes of your irritations and determine how to prevent further symptoms.

How To Avoid Any Further Symptoms

As with any other type of skincare, the best treatment is taking preventative measures to ensure your skin is in prime condition. With dry skin, you’ll be fighting against your genes which makes it complicated to completely eradicate all symptoms. But by avoiding irritants such as heavily perfumed products and hot showers, you’re less likely to have as many symptoms arise.

Take a look at your living conditions. If your house is humid, that’s perfect for dry skin. If your air is dry, get a humidifier to help keep your skin from drying out. Keep sunscreen by the front door and apply it every time you leave the house. This helps moisturize your skin as well as protect your skin from harmful UV rays. And lastly, this one may seem obvious, drink plenty of water. Your skin is the very last body part reached when you drink water. So, obviously, then you need enough to get through all the other organs to then hydrate your skin.

Learn to make lotions, serums, and water-rich foods your best friends. The proper lotions and serums give you the moisture your skin is thirsty for and then locks it in. Stocking up on foods like watermelon and celery is a great way to hydrate your body.. If drinking straight water is difficult for you, start cutting up fruit and putting it in jars of water overnight for a delicious treat the next day. There are many tips and tricks to getting yourself to enjoy water, and it takes only a second to google.

Changing your diet can also do wonders for your skin. By cutting out sugars and caffeine, your skin won’t dry out and age so quickly. Instead, add in healthy fats like avocados and salmon. Exercising, and drinking water while doing so, is also great at keeping your body healthy and promoting overall skin health.


Think of your skin as another organ your body needs to survive. Having dry, cracked skin not only is painful but lets down your defense system in protecting your body. By treating your skin as an essential need instead of a way for optional self-care, you’re making an effort for your body’s overall wellness.