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There’s a big difference between these two skin-sapping symptoms, but which one applies to you?

Written by: 100% PURE®

The distinction between DRY and DEHYDRATED skin is a nuanced one. Often the symptoms and signs are overlapping, interlinking, and self-reinforcing. You might have a little bit of both going on, or one that’s causing the other, or maybe you’re decidedly DRY but not DEHYDRATED. Or maybe it’s vice versa – everyone’s skin is different, so a close look at your skin’s behaviors is essential in solving this mystery.

Identifying your skin moisture status is not a straightforward task, but it’s absolutely essential to sleuthe out what’s going on with your unique set of symptoms, in order to make informed and healing decisions about how to get back to glowy-supple-nourished skin status.

Oil Pour

First, let’s do a basic breakdown of the symptoms that define both dry and dehydrated skin. Take notes – we’ll be quizzing you down below!

DRY Skin

DRY skin is a condition that you’re predestined to have (or not have) at birth. It’s a skin type which is defined by having a low or reduced level of lipids present in your epidermal layer. Naturally, dry skin doesn’t produce as much sebum (that waxy substance we know as ‘oil’) as other skin types do, and as a result this skin type will be chronically flakey and papery to the touch.

Dry skin sufferers will also be more prone to symptoms on their hands, neck, and scalp. Because of this lack of lipids, this skin type is in constant need of oil-rich moisturizers and skin protectants. The natural lipid barrier exists to protect the skin from external toxins and impurities, so dry skin, with its compromised lipid barrier, is more prone to inflammation and dermatitis.

The takeaway? Dry skin needs MORE OIL. Try incorporating a clean, pure facial oil like argan oil into your daily routine, and use the ‘sealing’ method. This means pairing moisturizing product applications with a protective layer of facial oil as your final step (e.g. after moisturizer, seal it in with an oil). The idea is to make sure the moisture (oil + water) stays locked in.

For those of you dealing with chronic dryness, we’ve crafted a dry skin routine that you can use year round – make sure to get the full scoop!

Water Pour

Dehydrated skin on the other hand isn’t so much a skin type as it is a skin condition. It occurs when the epidermal layer seriously lacks WATER. Skin that’s dehydrated is often simultaneously oily, leading to congestion, dullness, and combination symptoms. It will appear to be greasy and dry simultaneously, may experience breakouts, and will come and go based on a variety of external factors. These factors can include sun exposure, weather, hydration, diet, and caffeine and alcohol consumption.

Dehydration can be the culprit behind the bags under your eyes, general dullness, and premature wrinkling on your forehead. Makeup application over dehydrated skin can be a nightmare, as even the best products tend to sit in fine lines, and emphasize problem areas.

Your game plan for dealing with dehydrated skin needs to be all about WATER. This means using organic aloe water, floral waters, cucumber water, coconut water – opt for products that integrate plant-based waters and hydrosols (like our Rose Micellar Water) that are naturally amped up with antioxidants and minerals. Exfoliation is also key: dead skin buildup can be one of the culprits behind your skin’s inability to retain water, so try incorporating a weekly slough-off. The idea is to make sure that your water based hydrants are properly absorbing into your deeper epidermal layers.

And of course, lifestyle and hydration are absolutely key here. Make your water bottle your favorite accessory, and aim to fill and refill the liter at least twice a day. Water rich fruits and vegetables can also make a serious difference for dehydrated skin. You know the drill!

Ultimately, because dehydration is a function of external factors, it’s key to know what habits are helping it, and what habits need to be nixed. Peep our roundup of ten ways you might be drying out your skin with everyday habits.

Quiz: Is Your Skin DRY or DEHYDRATED?

With this knowledge, how can you be sure if you’re dealing with DRY skin or DEHYDRATED skin? In the spirit of helping you get to the bottom of it, we’ve put together a quiz to help you determine whether or not your skin is DRY or DEHYDRATED.

On a day to day basis, you wake up in the AM with:

  • a) Itchy, scaly patches around the nose and mouth
  • b) Oiliness, roughness, and dullness that you hadn’t noticed the night before

When you apply foundation or concealer to your skin, you usually struggle with:

  • a) The existence of rough patches where the makeup flakes off
  • b) Makeup settling into fine lines and creases

After a hot shower, skin on your face and body typically feels:

  • a) Itchy and inflamed
  • b) Sensitive and ‘squeaky’ feeling

Facial oil:

  • a) Absorbs well into your skin, and makes it look radiant and plump
  • b) Seems to sit on your skin’s surface, making you feel oily and dry simultaneously

The tightness and flaking you experience:

  • a) Feels like a constant problem that affects your face and also your scalp, neck, and hands
  • b) Seems to come and go depending on changes in the weather, your diet, and the products that you’re using

Your general level of preventative care when it comes to sunblock and UV rays is:

  • a) Very good: You religiously apply sunblock and opt for shade when you can
  • b) Shaky at best: sometimes you throw caution to the wind and try to get your tan on

Products with anti-aging active retinoids in them generally:

  • a) Leave your face red and sensitive, verging on chemical burn status
  • b) Are well tolerated by your face, and temporarily reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles

When you apply a moisturizer to your skin in the AM, it will:

  • a) Soak up quickly, and your skin will want more of it by midday
  • b) Take a while to absorb and definitely tide you over until the PM routine

On a day to day basis, your natural oil production:

  • a) Is left with a red mark and some sensitivity, but bounces back to its original shape
  • b) Wrinkles even with gentle pressure and doesn't immediately bounce back to its original shape

Go through the quiz and tally up your answers. If you’ve checked more A boxes then B boxes, you’re suffering from chronically dry skin. Make OIL your mantra with creamy daytime moisturizers and rich nighttime moisturizers.

If you checked more B boxes, things are a little bit more complicated. It’s time to find a water based toner and serum, add a Deep Hydration Mask every other day, up your daily H2O intake, and make a plant-based facial mist your new friend.

If you’re still stumped, come find us in a 100% PURE store – we’ll help you pinpoint your symptoms in a one-on-one consultation.

We carefully hand-select products based on strict purity standards, and only recommend products we feel meet this criteria. 100% PURE™ may earn a small commission for products purchased through affiliate links.

The information in this article is for educational use, and not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should not be used as such.

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