4 signs your perpetually dry skin isn't actually dry. It's just really thirsty.

Thanks to our brand partner, Sukin

Hands up if you’ve ever been asked, ‘what’s your skin type?

From which foundation to choose to what skincare is best, it’s a question that comes up a lot. But just quietly, not all of us actually know whether we have oily, dry, normal, combination or sensitive skin.

Sometimes we get it mixed up, and one of the most common skin type confusions is the difference between dry skin and dehydrated skin. Yep, they aren’t the same thing.

If you’re not sure if your perpetually dry skin is actually dry, or just really, really thirsty, keep scrolling for a guide on figuring it out, as well as the simple skincare ingredients and swaps you can make in your routine for plump, juicy skin.

Dry skin v dehydrated skin… what’s the difference?

The big difference between dry and dehydrated skin is: Dry skin doesn’t have enough oil and dehydrated skin doesn’t have enough water.

As My-kaela Najm, Sukin’s product trainer and skin expert, explains, dry skin fundamentally doesn’t produce enough oil, whereas dehydrated skin is caused by low water levels in the skin.

“Dry skin has a lack or low level of oil flow over the skin, whereas a dehydrated skin is an essential lack of water and moisture across and within the skin,” she told Mamamia.

OK cool, but what’s the difference between how dry and dehydrated skin looks and feels? Let’s break it down.

Dry skin craves oil. Dehydrated skin wants water. Image: Getty.

What is dry skin?

Dry skin is a skin type. We all have a skin type that's determined by genetic and hormonal factors, and yes, our skin type can change as we age, but your skin type can stay the same for many years.

Dry skin can feel: Sometimes itchy, tight, uncomfortable and easily irritated.

Dry skin can look: Flaky, red, enhanced pigmentation, more defined wrinkles and older looking skin tone because the skin barrier doesn’t have enough moisture and is broken.


What is dehydrated skin?

Dehydrated skin can appear dry, but it's not the same as having a dry skin type. It's temporary and can be fixed.

A skin condition isn't fixed. It's something that develops because of environmental factors like fragrances, irritants, the weather and the products you're putting on your skin, and there are things you can do to treat a skin condition.

For example, I always thought I had oily skin because I had angry, hormonal acne in my teens. But when I went to see a skin specialist, she explained my skin type was actually dry, and it was severely dehydrated from all the oily skin/acne skin products I'd been using.

Dehydrated skin is also really common because skincare can be confusing and, like I was, using harsh, stripping products can upset your skin's moisture levels. It's also important to note, any skin type can become dehydrated. Even you, oily-skinned friends.

Where it gets tricky is telling the difference between dry skin and dehydrated skin because, most of the time, they look and feel the same.

So, how do I know if my skin is dehydrated?

Good news! There are a few ways you can figure out if your skin is dry or dehydrated.

"Common signs of a dehydrated skin include dullness, feeling like your skin is looking lacklustre and the presence of fine lines," Najm said.

"Another way of assessing if your skin is dehydrated is using the 'pinch test'. If you gently pinch the skin of your cheek and notice fine lines this is an indication of dehydration. Whilst dehydrated skin may look and feel similar to a dry skin, the key difference is that dehydration signs will come and go and all skin types can experience dehydration."

Best skincare ingredients for dehydrated skin.

If you've done some skinvestigating and have decided your skin is dehydrated, here are the ingredients to look out for on the back of product packaging:

1. Hyaluronic Acid.

"A hydration hero to look for is Hyaluronic Acid (HA). Known to be a humectant (can retain or preserve moisture), this ingredient can keep a large amount of water within your complexion for a soft dewy appearance," Najm said.

The great thing about hyaluronic acid is you don't have to spend a lot to get a great HA product. Check the ingredients list on the back of a product's packaging and if you see the term 'sodium hyaluronate', you're in good hands. Sodium Hyaluronate is a salt form of Hyaluronic Acid. It's in most skincare formulations because it's a small molecule form of HA that can get deeper into your skin. Win

2. Maize.

Najm also explained a lesser-known but just as effective ingredient to look out for is Maize.

"Maize helps to bind moisture to the skin, keeping you hydrated for longer, resulting in a fresh, dewy appearance. Both ingredients can be found in Sukin’s innovative Bio-Marine blend, a first for natural skincare clinically proven to lock in moisture and deeply rehydrate thirsty skin."


You'll find both of these dehydration heroes in the new Sukin Hydration range that promises to lock in moisture and rehydrate thirsty skin. Think of it like the skincare equivalent of guzzling three litres of water every day.

Look out for the blue packaging of the Rehydrating Gel Cream ($22.95), Biomarine Facial Serum ($24.95), Hydrafusion Night Cream ($22.95), Hydra Eye Gel ($19.95) and Deeply Hydrating Biodegradable Sheet Mask ($8.95) at your local chemist.


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Skincare tips for dehydrated skin.

Now you know A) if you have dehydrated skin and B) what ingredients to look for in your skincare, here's a few tips on how to use your products within your daily routine.

1. Avoid washing your face with hot water.

When the weather is cooler, it feels lovely to wash your cleanser off with warm water, but this isn't always great for dehydrated skin.

Najm's advice? "When using water to cleanse away product, ensure that the water is not too hot, heat will naturally draw moisture out of the skin."

2. There's such a thing as cleansing too much.

One thing I've found has helped keep my skin from drying out is actually only cleansing my face with a cleanser at night when I need to remove makeup and grime from the day.

Unless you've got oily skin, most of us won't need to remove oil build up in the morning, and over-cleansing can mess with your skin's moisture barrier (the old acid mantle). I simply wet my face with cold or lukewarm water in the shower - sometimes I'll use a cloth for a bit of a scrub if I feel I need it - and then apply my usual morning skincare.

3. Add a hydrating serum into your routine.

Serums are the best way to get hydration into your skin because they are thin, gel/lotion-type products containing a high concentration of our friends like Hyaluronic Acid.

You can apply your serum morning and night after cleansing and any toner/essence/mist step you use, and before moisturiser. Try Sukin's Biomarine Facial Serum on your face, neck and collarbone area.

4. Try a hydrating eye gel.

"A lot of people commonly notice signs of dehydration around the eye area," Najm said.

This is because the skin under and around our eyes is thinner than the rest of the face, and dehydration there can pronounce fine lines. If your serum is really thin, you can take it up to the eye area, but for double duty, you can also add in an eye gel specifically designed to look after that delicate area. Sukin's Hydra Eye Gel is a great option to use after cleansing in the morning or at night.

5. Always wear a face sunscreen.

Finally, wearing sunscreen is one of the simplest ways to combat dehydration because we know, for some, sun exposure can cause dehydration.

Najm added, "Don’t forget to apply your SPF in the morning, even if you are working indoors or from home. The UV exposure from the sun plays a big part in further dehydrating our skin and is quite proficient at penetrating through glass windows."

And that is how to rehydrate your thirsty AF skin. Now excuse me while I go skol a litre of water.

Feature image: Getty.


Sukin was born in Melbourne from a need to ‘say no’ to puffery, chemicals and marketing spin. The vision was clear, create a skincare brand for everyone, free from synthetics, animal cruelty and environmental impact, that makes you feel special, nurtured and protected.

We believe that everything needed to make our products can be found in nature. So at Sukin, that’s what we use. No hidden surprises, no harmful processes, and no compromise on results. Just ingredients from nature that work.

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