Dry vs dehydrated skin: How to spot the difference

Targeted beauty treatments are the key to hydrated, dewy skin like Shani Darden’s client Jessica Alba

While they might sound like the same thing, these two commonly confused skin types need to be treated differently. Here’s how to discover which one you have – and how to treat it. By CHANELLE HO


‘Dry’ and ‘dehydrated’ are two very different things. While dry skin is mainly down to genetics, any of us can develop dehydrated skin, which can be triggered by everything from natural aging and sun damage to air conditioning, weather change and even hard water in your shower. Skincare expert Shani Darden – whose A-list clientele includes Jessica Alba, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Chrissy Teigen – explains how to spot the difference.


“Anyone can have dehydrated skin – even oily or combination skin types – when water is lost from the upper layers,” says Darden. The most common sign of dehydrated skin is a tight feeling and a dull, tired-looking complexion. “Dehydration is often down to using the wrong products, which can irritate skin and cause moisture loss.”

How to solve it

“One of the best treatments is hyaluronic acid, which helps skin cells to retain as much moisture as possible,” explains Darden. “If you’re prone to breakouts, avoid a heavy moisturizer that could block pores, and exfoliate at least once a week. Dr. Dennis Gross’ Alpha Beta Ultra Gentle Daily Peel pads effectively remove the layer of dead cells on skin’s surface and allow your HA serum to penetrate further.”


“Dry skin suffers from producing very little oil,” Darden explains. It will typically feel rough, look a little flaky, and will be particularly prone to developing fine lines and wrinkles. Dry skin is something you’re born with, so if your skin is dry everywhere else on the body, including your hands, legs or scalp, it’s a good indicator that this is your natural skin type. But it’s not all bad news…

How to solve it

Choose super-nourishing moisturizers that contain emollients, which will provide skin with a protective layer to prevent moisture loss. Creams or oils that contain ceramides, shea butter or squalene are particularly great, as are gentle cleansing lotions – try to avoid foaming cleansers that can dry out skin even more. “Don’t forget your SPF,” says Darden. “It’s a must-have for any skin type, but especially dry skin because the barrier is more delicate. I layer Dr Nigma Talib Hydrating and Plumping Serum No1 underneath my SPF along with a hyaluronic acid, which creates a hydrated base for the SPF to sit upon.”

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