Dry, dull skin can be a real drag. It increases signs of aging and can make that elusive “youthful glow” feel permanently out of reach.
However, just because your skin feels starved for moisture doesn’t mean it’s necessarily dry, it could just be dehydrated.
If you’re thinking, “um, isn’t that the same thing?” then stick with us. And don’t worry, most people don’t realize that dehydrated and dry skin are two different issues, much less that they require totally different skincare strategies.
Let’s take a look at what exactly dehydrated skin is, how to know if you have it, and the best natural skincare ingredients to restore dewy, glowing skin.
The Difference Between Dehydrated Skin & Dry Skin
Dehydrated and dry skin may feel very similar, but there’s a big difference between the two.
- If you have dehydrated skin, your skin is lacking water.
- If you have dry skin, your skin isn’t producing enough oil.
Dehydrated skin is a condition, meaning it can come and go and affect any skin type (dry, oily, combination, or normal). It’s caused by environmental factors, such as weather, diet, caffeine consumption, and not drinking enough water.
Dry skin is a skin type, meaning it’s genetic and you’re born with it. It occurs because your sebaceous glands aren’t producing enough oil and it affects the skin on your whole body, not just your face.
Additionally, since dehydration isn’t related to oil, your skin can be both dehydrated and oily. In fact, your skin is actually more likely to be oily if it’s dehydrated because it produces extra oil to make up for the missing water. Fun, right? 🙄 (Don’t worry, we have tips on this below).
|Skin is lacking water||Skin is lacking oil|
|Is a skin condition, so it can come & go||Is a skin type, so you were born with it|
|Caused by environmental factors||Caused by genetics|
|Responds to skincare that restores water||Responds to skincare that restores oil|
How to Tell if Your Skin is Dehydrated or Dry
If your skin is lacking moisture but you’re not sure whether your skin is simply dehydrated or you have a dry skin type, here are a few things to look for.
Your skin may be be dehydrated if:
- When you pinch your cheek the skin wrinkles
- Skin feels stretched or dull
- Skin may feel both oily and dry
- You’re experiencing breakouts
- You have an increased appearance of fine lines
- Under-eye circles have become darker
- Eyes appear more sunken
Your skin may be be dry if:
- Skin is red, irritated, flaky or itchy
- Arms, legs, hands, and scalp are also dry
- Moisturizer or lotion is quickly absorbed by skin after applying
Skincare Strategies for Dehydrated Skin vs Dry Skin
Since dry and dehydrated skin have completely separate underlying causes, they respond to different skincare strategies.
You can address dehydrated skin with natural ingredients that draw water to the skin, help retain water, or contain water themselves (see below for our top recommendations). Drinking more water will also be a huge help, of course.
On the other hand, dry skin is best addressed with products rich in oils and fatty acids and it does not respond to drinking more water. Head here for our favorite natural skincare secrets for dry skin.
Top 6 Natural Skincare Ingredients for Dehydrated Skin
Here are a few of the top botanicals to include in your DIY natural skincare to overcome dehydrated skin and restore your natural glow.
Have you ever wondered why women in movies and magazines are always putting cucumber slices on their eyes? It’s because dehydration is a major cause of under-eye circles and cucumbers are master hydrators. In fact, they’re over 90% water!
Misting yourself with a cucumber water spray is a great way to reap those same hydrating benefits on your entire face.
You can make your own using cucumber-infused water or a mixture of water and cucumber extract. Simply add your finished product to a spray bottle and spritz your face with it when your skin feels dry.
Honey is an all-star natural skincare ingredient for dehydrated skin because it’s a humectant, so it draws water from the air to your skin.
It also helps maintain balanced oil production and has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. This makes it a great choice whether your skin is dehydrated and dry or dehydrated but oily and acne-prone.
To add honey’s hydrating benefits into your everyday skincare routine, try this DIY honey face wash.
Botaneri “Level Up” Tip
Choose the perfect hydrating mask for your skin concerns from these 3 DIY honey face masks. Whether you’re dealing with skin that is dehydrated and acne-prone, dehydrated and inflamed, or dehydrated and flaky, we’ve got you covered!
3. Honeyquat, Quaternized Honey, or Conditioning Honey
This lesser-known ingredient, which can go by all three names above, is derived from honey but is far more hydrating and much easier to work with.
It’s produced by giving pure honey a positive charge, which causes a quaternary reaction. This increases the natural humectant factor, giving honeyquat twice the humectant activity as glycerin (more on that below), while also taking away its stickiness.
It hydrates both your skin and hair, so it’s excellent to use in lotions, serums, hair conditioners, and hair masks.
Glycerin is likely the most popular humectant in DIY plant-based skincare because it’s inexpensive, readily available, and easy to work with.
Plus, it not only attracts moisture to your skin, glycerin also slows the evaporation of water to keep your skin hydrated for longer! It’s frequently used to make soaps and is an excellent ingredient for facial cleaners, which tend to be drying.
We recommend choosing a natural glycerin, such as vegetable glycerin, which will typically only run you about $8 for 500ml or 16 oz.
You do want to limit it to no more than 5% of your DIY skincare product’s total weight, as it can cause a sticky skin feel when used above that ratio.
5. Green Tea Extract
Green tea is rich in vitamin E, which protects your cell membranes, forming a barrier that keeps water in and cells hydrated.
It’s also packed with antioxidants, combats inflammation, and helps you produce more collagen, so green tea extract (a more concentrated form) is a great addition to virtually any skincare formula.
We love adding a few drops into our Clean Green Acne-Fighting Face Mask, and it can be incorporated in water-based lotions or toners.
6. Sodium PCA
Sodium PCA is one of the top picks when it comes to hydrating humectants, as it binds and retains water 1.5 times better than glycerin. The white-lab-coat name for Sodium PCA is Pyroglutamic Acid and it’s an amino acid that is found naturally occurring on your skin and is part of your natural moisturizing factor (NMF).
As a DIY skincare ingredient, it’s highly water-soluble, so it doesn’t affect the viscosity or thickness of the product you’re creating. It’s also very mild and doesn’t clog pores, so it’s great for sensitive skin and acne-prone skin.
It comes as a thick clear liquid that can easily be added to many types of products, including moisturizers, masks, serums, and face mists.
The drawbacks of sodium PCA are that it’s on the more expensive side at $17 for 500ml or 16 ounces, and unlike glycerin, it does wash off.
About the author
I’m Drew, creator of Botaneri and an artisanal skincare formulator and certified aromatherapist who is here to help take the mystery out of DIY natural beauty. I started creating my own plant-based skin and body care products at home to deal with my own skin issues.
What I love most is helping people create luxurious and effective self-care products right in their own kitchens. It’s a lot easier than you think. Trust me, if I can do it, so can you.