How to Tell If Your Skin Is Dehydrated—And How To Deal

FYI: There's a difference between dry and dehydrated skin.
By Elaine Reyes

Most of us are quite familiar with the symptoms of dry skin: itchy, flaky, tight, and often uncomfortable. Common dry areas are on the cheeks, the corners of the nose and the mouth, and even the sides of the forehead.

But we bet you didn’t know this. Dry skin isn’t exactly synonymous with dehydrated skin. In fact, you can have both oily and dehydrated skin, a.k.a. a not-so-popular type of combination skin. Here, we break it down further:

Dry skin vs. dehydrated skin

When you have dry skin, it means you have less oil-producing glands in your skin. Oil or sebum is actually necessary as it keeps skin from drying out, and works to reduce water loss from your skin surface while providing a protective barrier against external aggressors. When your skin is not able to produce the needed amount of sebum, this results in skin dryness. So basically, dry skin is a skin type.

Dehydration, meanwhile, is a skin condition. Having dehydrated skin means your skin is lacking water, not oil. It can be caused by many factors, including the weather conditions, the environment, and even your diet (coffee consumption included), all of which can cause the depletion of your skin’s water content.

So, is my skin dehydrated?

Here's the thing: Dehydrated skin can exhibit signs similar to dry skin, such as itchiness and tightness. But what you should look out for is dullness, sallowness, and even darkness or discoloration especially around the eyes. Watch out for exaggerated lines and wrinkles, too—especially if they were not there  before—as well as redness, inflammation, and lots of congestion: think whiteheads, blackheads, and a thickened skin surface.

You can also try this easy test: Simply pinch your cheek and check if the skin is wrinkling rather than holding its shape. If it appears wrinkly under gentle pressure, it’s parched for water.

How to deal

Dry skin is best treated with an emollient cream, facial oil, or moisturizer to protect from moisture loss. When it comes to treating dehydrated skin, ~hydration~ is key, of course. But it takes more than just one-time moisturizing step to really nip it in the bud. Here, some skin care steps you can take:

1. Exfoliate skin.
The buildup of dirt, makeup, and dead skin cells on skin can significantly hinder your skin’s absorption of hydrators and other skin care products. Make sure to exfoliate at least once a week to detox skin and slough off unwanted debris. Be wary of using harsh, grainy scrubs and using too much friction, as these can cause more harm than good.

Deoproce Whee Hyang Firm Peeling Vegetal, P1,110
This gentle peel is infused with eight kinds of herbal ingredients and visibly lifts and sweeps away dead skin cells.

2. Add a serum to your daily routine.
A serum is a skin care product that you apply after cleansing and before moisturizing. The thin consistency makes it easy for skin to absorb, making it effective in delivering powerful ingredients. That said, it’s a great tool for targeting specific skin care concerns, such as dehydration and aging.

We recommend looking for a serum with hyaluronic acid as it boosts skin’s moisture and helps retain water in your skin.

The Ordinary "Buffet" Multi-Technology Peptide Serum, P1,099
This peptide-rich serum moisturizes and plumps up skin while also targeting multiple signs of aging.

Bioderma Serum, P1,400
This gentle serum retrains skin to moisturize itself and provides an instant and lasting hydrating effect. It’s ideal for dehydrated and even sensitive skin.

3. Moisturize in the a.m. and in the p.m.
Daily exposure to the elements—including the sun and the office A.C.—strips skin of moisture, so it’s important to prep skin in the morning with a potent but lightweight moisturizer, ideally one with skin-nourishing natural extracts and fatty acids.

Embryolisse LCC NY-Limited Edition, P1,400
Dubbed as a 24-hour miracle cream, this French skin care favorite is an all-natural hydrating moisturizer that’s enriched with plant extracts, essential fatty acids, and vitamins to deeply hydrate, soothe, and repair the skin.

At night, opt for a heavier, oil-free, and non-comedogenic moisturizer to counteract moisture loss while you sleep, and to boost skin’s nighttime repair. A snail mucin-infused product works wonders, too, as the snail extract is known for its impressive skin-healing powers.

Deoproce Snail Recovery Cream, P1,270
The mucin in this Korean cream forms a protective film to prevent moisture loss, while licorice root extract lets you achieve clearer skin by inhibiting melanin production. 

4. Treat skin to a weekly masking session.
Indulging in a hydrating sheet mask once a week not only pampers skin, it also lets you soak up powerful nourishing ingredients in one go. Here are some ingredients to try during your next masking sesh: aloe, glacier water, donkey milk, and horse oil.


Soo'Ae Donkey Milk Skin Gel Mask, P169 
This has donkey milk, which is found to be superior than cow's milk in terms of skin care benefits.

Lap Therapy Ampoule Maskpack Horse Oil Whitening & Nutrition (5 Sheets), P540
Nutrition-rich horse oil delivers intense moisture for a truly skin-soothing pampering session.


Revox Rejuvenation Sheet Face Mask, P129
This is powered by a mix of green tea extracts, hyaluronic acid, Japanese cherry blossoms, and rice milk—for optimum hydration and rejuvenation.

5. Drink lots of water
Sorry to state the obvious, but drinking enough water is vital to addressing dehydration—even in the skin. So make sure you consume  at least eight glasses of water daily, and eat water-rich fruits and vegetables, such as watermelons and cucumbers. If you sweat a lot or work out regularly, down more fluids to replenish what you lose through sweating.

6. Invest in a humidifier
A humidifier adds moisture to the air in the room, preventing dryness that can affect you and your body. This is especially helpful in air-conditioned rooms, where the air is extra cool and dry.

7. Keep a facial mist handy
A facial mist, like the BYS Hydrating Mist- Rose Quartz, gives skin a quick-me-up by delivering instant hydration. Always keep one in your purse for on-the-go spritzing.

BYS Hydrating Mist - Rose Quartz, P799
This has Rose Quartz Crystals that helps to boost energy and rejuvenate the skin. It also works as a setting spray, holding makeup in place for extended wear.

Shop more skin care must-haves here.