Is your skin dry or dehydrated?

With winter coming we thought it was a perfect time to look at dry and dehydrated skin because the colder weather is so much harsher on our skin.

To look after your skin it’s important to know the difference dry and dehydrated skin – they have many of the same signs and symptoms, but they are quite distinct.

In this blog I’ll outline the differences between the two, how to work out what your problem is, what to avoid and how to make it better.

In summary:

Dry skin lacks oil.

Dehydrated skin lacks water.

In more detail:

Dry skin is a skin type – basically it’s a result of your genes. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make it better or worse. And it can be made worse by weather, cleansing, aging, poor diet, stress and some medications – including the pill. Simply put, dry skin does not produce enough of the oil that’s essential for maintaining the skin barrier. Oil provides water-proofing and protects us from outside chemicals. It also ensures your skin is flexible.

Dehydrated skin is a condition that can happen to anyone whether you have normal, dry or oily skin. It is when your skin loses water through evaporation and it is not replaced effectively. Hydration is essential for flexible, plump, smooth skin and to allow the normal biological processes of the skin to occur. Dehydrated skin is worsened by cold, wind, sun, aging, harsh cleansing and over-exfoliating.

How to tell if your skin is dry or dehydrated?

Here is a quick breakdown of how these two problems differ and what to look for.

Dry skin is usually flaky, has rough patches and may be itchy. There will be no oil visible on the surface. This can cause your make-up to settle into lines and creases; and moisturiser sinks in when applied. Dry skin is often “sensitive” as the oil needed to form a protective barrier is missing, exposing your skin to irritants.

Dehydrated skin will feel dull and drawn; wrinkles and fine lines will look more severe without water to plump up the outer layer of skin. As a result your make-up will often look patchy as the skin absorbs any moisture available, including the water in your foundation.

 If your skin is oily but still tight and dry then it’s almost certainly dehydrated. Your skin produces more oil when it is dehydrated so bizarrely you need to moisturise or apply oil until hydrated

Dry and dehydrated skin will start to crack and lose its protective barrier.

Can I avoid dry or dehydrated skin?

Ironically if you have dry skin – wash it less! Cleansing is one of the harshest things we do to our skin and it can strip away the natural oils. It is best to avoid harsh or foamy cleansers and exfoliants that strip the outer skin barrier and no matter what you may have heard it is never a good thing for your skin feel squeaky clean. Use a gentle cleanser at night and just splash your face with water in the morning. Your dry skin will also thank you if you drink less alcohol, stop smoking and protect it in harsh weather – from the cold, wind and using SPF even in winter.

As for dehydrated skin – believe it or not your face can get dehydrated if you have too many hot showers! It’s hard in winter but try not to turn up the hot water. Air conditioning, wind and sun are other factors that will cause water to evaporate from your face – and in winter the air is generally drier than summer.

What can I do to help?

Dry skin lacks oil so we need to put oil back in. Oil does two critical things – first, it is an emollient (or softener) that keeps skin smooth and flexible and stops itching. Oil is also an occlusive – or a barrier – that partially blocks water from evaporating.  Most oils do a bit of both but some are more specialised than others so use a high quality oil rich in protective lipids.

Dehydrated skin simply needs water. But how do you get water into your skin? Drinking can help but no matter how much you drink the last place water goes is to the outer layers of your skin and splashing or immersing your face in water really does not work. This is where you need a moisturiser – particularly one high in rich protective lipids and what we call humectants. A moisturiser works because it’s a blend of water and oil. The oil – as well as acting as an emollient and occlusive – helps deliver the water into top layer of the skin by trapping it there. A moisturiser with good level of humectant is also vital – a humectant is something that draws water to itself.

Dehydrated skin needs water.

In both cases feed your face well at night. Skin permeability increases during night which can result in more water loss than during the day so it’s important to use a good thick moisturiser or high quality oil and on the plus side the increased permeability also allows for more nourishment in so easy way to look after your skin while you sleep.

What product is right for me?

At Agnes&Me we don’t believe in selling you something you don’t need but here’s a brief reason why our face cream, oil, balm and mask should be part of your regime to protect against dry and dehydrated skin.

Agnes&Me face cream is perfect for dehydrated skin.

Agnes&Me Face cream – perfect for dehydrated skin. Full of rich oils which act as  a carrier to deliver water to your face to increase hydration. The oils then lock in the moisture as well as nourishing and softening the skin.  Our face cream also has a high level of natural humectant. While big companies will use chemical humectants, we use only natural ingredients so our “water sponge” is organic glycerine, a sugar derived from plants. It helps draw moisture from the lower layers of your skin to keep your outer later hydrated and healthy. Your body has loads of water so that’s OK and you are preventing further water loss by making the top layer hydrated.

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Agnes&MeFace oil – ideal for dry skin. We’ve chosen luxurious rejuvenating organic oils rich in anti-oxidants and omega fatty acids. The oils do the basics of providing a protective barrier as well as softening the skin but they do much more good work – such as fighting free radicals that cause premature aging. Check out the recent blog to get more of the good oil

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Agnes&Me Blam blam balm – our balm has multiple benefits for both dry and dehydrated skin. It is a beautiful effective gentle cleanser  If you haven’t seen the video on how to do this, watch it here. The balm has many other uses – which deserve a blog in their own right – but for dry and dehydrated skin it is a great occlusive mask which keeps the water in so keeping it hydrated and nourishing the skin with all the amazing oils and butters. Try it 2-3 times a week as a sleeping mask.

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Pink Clay Mask – this is just divine for people with dry and dehydrated skin. We’ve talked about how harsh cleaning and exfoliants can damage the skin – stripping away the protective barrier. A clay mask is an incredibly gentle way to deep cleanse your face and revitalise it. Our mask mildly draws out impurities, lightly exfoliates without irritation and cleanses without removing the natural oils and leaves it feeling soft. Read more about it here.

I hope this helps and you can always drop me a line at if you have any questions; or if you are in Auckland I would love to see you at a market