Dehydrated Skin; How To Fix It and Why It Happens

Table of Contents

What Is Dehydrated Skin?

Dehydrated skin is a common skin concern that can affect people of all ages and skin types. It occurs when the skin lacks sufficient moisture, resulting in a dry, tight, and sometimes flaky appearance. Dehydrated skin can be uncomfortable and can lead to premature signs of aging if left untreated. In this blog, we will discuss the causes and symptoms of dehydrated skin, as well as provide tips for how to hydrate and nourish the skin to achieve a healthy, radiant complexion.

Symptoms of Dehydrated Skin

Some symptoms of dehydrated skin are obvious or painful such as cracked skin, but some are significantly more subtle. Here are a few of the telltale signs that your skin is dehydrated.

Dehydrated Skin Symptoms:

1. Dull skin: A sure fire sign your skin is lacking moisture. Dehydrated skin just doesn’t glow the way you want it to. Without enough hydration, our skin loses the ability to reflect light.

2. Sunken eyes or dark under-eye circles: While often caused by stress or lack of sleep, dehydration can cause also cost those pesky “bags under the eye”. Otherwise known as dark circles.

3. Itchiness: One of the more annoying and sometimes painful symptoms. Dehydrated skin can range from mildly to very itchy and uncomfortable.

4. Fine lines and wrinkles: Dehydration is a big cause of premature aging. It increases fine lines and wrinkles and makes them appear more pronounced.

5. Cracked skin: Usually seen in cases of more severe dehydration, skin can become cracked and painful. Many people are prone to this in the dry winter months, especially on the lips.

6. Flakey skin or “catching” foundation: Have you ever noticed those white flakes that can appear? Or maybe your foundation is “bunching” up in small spots instead of smoothing over the skin.

7. Redness or irritation: In more sever cases, redness and irritation to the skin can be caused. Moisture is necessary for healthy cell turnover.

8. Increased incidence of psoriasis, eczema, or dermatitis: Dehydration can increase the incidence of skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis.

9. Dry mouth: Are you thirsty? Your skin is too!

What Causes Skin Dehydration?

In some cases it is as simply as not drinking enough water every day causing your skin to be lacking hydration, but there are some other very common culprits you should be aware of.


Winter weather can be especially harsh on our skin, especially for those with dry skin. The dry air and indoor heating that are common during the winter can strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to even more dryness. Cold temperatures outside and hot, dry air inside can create a vicious cycle of dehydration for the skin. It’s important to take extra care of your skin during the winter to keep it hydrated and healthy. This may include using a humidifier to add moisture to the air, using a gentle, moisturizing cleanser, and applying a thick, nourishing cream or oil to the skin after bathing or showering.

Hot (or too many) Showers

It’s also a good idea to avoid taking long, hot showers, as hot water can further strip the skin of its natural oils. By taking a few extra steps to care for your skin, you can help to keep it hydrated and healthy throughout the winter season.

Skin Care Routine

Our skin is only as good as our skincare routine. If yours is feeling tight, itchy, or otherwise uncomfortable, you should double-check if you are using the right products for your skin type. You will also want to check the labels to make sure there isn’t something in your products that could be causing an adverse reaction.

Next, you should review a) if you are using each product the correct amount and b) if you are applying the products correctly. For example, many folks over-exfoliate without realizing it by pressing too hard, using exfoliators too often, or using an exfoliator that is stripping moisture rather than nourishing the skin. The guidelines may also change if you are struggling with a skin condition.

(Check out our free Skin Type Quiz to find your personalized routine.)

Do I Have Dry or Dehydrated Skin?

These two are often confused with each other because of the similar symptoms, but the causes differ. Dry skin is a skin type caused by an underproduction of oils, while dehydrated skin is caused by a lack of water or moisture in the dermis.

In addition, dry skin tends to be more ongoing or chronic and is caused more by environmental factors, genetics, or medical conditions. Dehydration is usually short-term and caused more by weather and dietary factors.

It’s important to understand what is causing your skin concerns in order to pick the correct solution for your unique skin.

One way to distinguish between dry skin and dehydrated skin is by the feel of the skin. Dry skin tends to feel tight and rough, while dehydrated skin feels tight and lacks elasticity. Dry skin is also more prone to flakiness and cracking, while dehydrated skin may appear dull and sunken.

It’s also possible to have both dry and dehydrated skin, in which case it’s important to address both the lack of oil and lack of water in your skincare routine.

How To Get Hydrated Skin

So, we’ve established that proper hydration is crucial for healthy skin. Now, let’s talk about how to accomplish this and fix dehydrated skin.

Use a Gentle Cleanser

Picking a nourishing cleanser is one of the best ways to retain moisture. All cleansers are not made equal, and some will do more damage than good. A rule of thumb is to opt for non-foam/sulfate-free cleansers. The detergents found in foam cleansers will actually strip your skin and can even cause irritation.

Always be sure to follow up with a good moisturizer. After removing dead skin cells is the perfect time to rehydrate your skin. The product will also be able to penetrate deeper when your skin is clean.

Establish a Skin Care Routine

Pick The Right Product For Your Skin Type! This is probably the most common misstep in skin care and can be devastating to skin health. You probably already know the general rule of thumb: If you have dry skin, use moisture rich products. If you have oily skin, use oil-free products. These are a good base line, but there is so much more to it than this!

We are all unique, with different skin types, living in different climates, exposed to different environmental factors, and eating different diets. All of these factors can effect your skin health and needs.

Don’t worry though, you don’t have to navigate this rocky terrain alone! Check out our quick Skin Quiz for personalized (and free!) product and routine recommendations.

Lukewarm Water

Bathing in water that is too hot or washing our skin too frequently can strip natural and necessary oils. This throws off the skin’s natural balance. Opt for lukewarm water instead, combined with a cleanser for your skin type.

Protect Your Skin

Skin cells regularly regenerate, but we still have to set them up for success. You guessed it, using the right products matters. However, there are lots of other small things we can do to keep our skin healthy and hydrated. This can be as simple as wearing a scarf when it’s cold and windy, and making sure to get your fruit and veg.

Don’t Forget Proper Nutrition

It all starts with nutrition! Try to eat more plant-based foods and make sure you always drink plenty of water. Food that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin E are especially great for the skin. Fish, avocados, walnuts, spinach, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, and of course seaweed are all good sources of these. Aim to have variety in your diet to get a good mix of vitamins and minerals.

Check out some new recipes for healthy but delicious options.

Replenish Fluids Regularly

Drink plenty of water! Try to make a habit of drinking plenty of fluids. There are lots of great apps for tracking water intake to stay hydrated every day. Eight glasses are generally recommended, but remember, this is a minimum! If you are very active, you will likely have more fluids to replenish due to sweating. Headaches, low energy, dry mouth, and dry lips are always all good signs that you need to drink more water.

Hydration and Anti-Aging

Both dehydrated and dry skin can be a factor in the appearance of aging. When skin is well-hydrated, it can appear plump and smooth, which can make fine lines and wrinkles less noticeable. On the other hand, dehydrated and dry skin can accentuate the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and make the skin look dull and tired. It can also cause skin damage that will accelerate wrinkles, patchiness, rash, and even skin infections.