dehydrated skin often shows fine lines

Dehydrated Skin Or Oily Skin?

Is your skin oily or dehydrated? It might be dehydrated. When we think of dehydrated skin, we think of dry skin. I know I always have. That is until I suddenly was very sick for a prolonged period of time and wound up with oily skin. 

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I was perplexed. It turns out that dehydrated skin can often be mistaken for oily skin. That is because your body is trying to compensate for the lack of moisture by pumping up the oil production. As I started to hydrate my skin, it went from oily skin to seriously oily in some places and seriously dry in others. It turns out it can take weeks for your skin to return to normal, but these tips can help you get there a lot faster. 

How Do You Know If You Have Oily Skin Or Dehydrated Skin?

oily skin

First, you have to make sure that you actually have dehydrated skin. Both of these conditions can make your face have a lot of extra shine, so it can be hard to tell the difference. To determine whether you have oily skin or dehydrated skin, you need to look for signs of dehydrated skin. If you don’t have dehydrated skin, it means that your skin is just oily. 

Signs Of Dehydrated Skin

Most of the time, you’ll instantly start looking for signs of dry skin to see if your skin is dehydrated. You’ll think of dry and flaky skin that gets irritated easily. This is possible, but it’s also possible to have dehydrated skin and not have dry, flaky skin. How your skin reacts when it’s dehydrated depends on your body, and how severe the dehydration is. We’re all different.

Recent Illness Can Cause Dehydrated Skin

If you’ve had a recent illness that has resulted in losing bodily fluids, and then suddenly have oily skin, it’s more than likely due to dehydration. When your body loses fluids, it loses them from everywhere. This is particularly common in people with conditions like Celiac Disease, food intolerances, IBS, and other conditions that cause diarrhea and vomiting. Take a moment to think about when you developed “oily skin.” 

Dehydrated Skin Has Less Elasticity 

In the medical community, this is called skin turgor. Skin turgor is the skin’s ability to return back to its normal state. The skin bounces back into place when moved, just like elastic does. (That’s why it’s called elasticity.) 

To test how dehydrated your skin is, pinch the back of your hand, pulling the skin up. Severely dehydrated skin won’t return to its normal shape very quickly. The longer it takes for your skin to return to normal, the more dehydrated you are. 

It’s important to note that your skin returning to normal doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not dehydrated. If you’re mildly dehydrated you can still have some symptoms of dehydrated skin, but you’re not dehydrated enough to see this yet. 

Dehydration is on a spectrum. It’s not as simple as being dehydrated or not being dehydrated. Instead, you can be fully hydrated, severely dehydrated, mildly dehydrated, etc. Some people are more sensitive to dehydration than others, too. While one mildly dehydrated person won’t experience symptoms, another might suddenly develop oily skin. 

You’re Suddenly Aging

Dehydrated skin can show wrinkles and fine lines more than hydrated skin. Hydration tends to help plump the skin, making the appearance of these fine lines less noticeable. Dehydration tends to make things on the face sink in more, from your eyes to your wrinkles. If you’ve suddenly developed fine lines and your wrinkles are deeper, it could be due to dehydrated skin. 

Dark Circles Under The Eyes

It’s common to have darker circles under your eyes if you haven’t been getting enough sleep. However, this can also be a symptom of dehydration. You’ll notice that those Prada bags under your eyes are suddenly bigger and darker than normal. 

Itchy Skin

Sometimes, your skin will start to overproduce oil in some parts but remain dry in others. This can occur in patches. The dry parts will be itchy. The oily parts can be itchy too. 

Increased Sensitivity

This was hard for me to determine because I’ve always had sensitive skin to an extent. However, it’s a lot more sensitive than it used to be. Skin products that had never caused irritation before were suddenly making my face red. I had to start leaving my clay mask on for five minutes instead of ten. If you’re skin suddenly feels irritated by things that never bothered you before, it’s a sign that something else is going on. 

Your Face Feels Tight

Smile really big. Dehydrated skin won’t be as flexible, so it will feel as though you’re really stretching your skin when you simply smile. If your skin is severely dehydrated, it can actually hurt to smile. 

How To Fix Dehydrated Skin

foods for dehydrated skin

In order to fix dehydrated skin, you need to hydrate yourself from the inside out. Making sure that you get plenty of water is ideal. If you’ve been sick recently, your skin should return to normal on its own as more time goes on. Simply stay properly hydrated. 

In some cases, you’ll also need to keep yourself hydrated from the outside with products that are best for dehydrated skin. There are a lot of things that you can do to keep your skin hydrated throughout the day to help it return back to its normal state sooner rather than later. 

Hydrating Dehydrated Skin From The Inside Out

Hydrating your skin involves a lot more than using the correct moisturizer. Granted, the right products are going to help. However, you need to help your skin be healthy from the inside out to make a lasting difference. Try: 

  • Eating more foods that are packed with water, like fruits and vegetables
  • Drinking at least 64 ounces of plain water a day
  • Have some Pedialyte for faster rehydration
  • Enjoy some milk (it’s surprisingly hydrating)
  • Sip on water, smoothies, soups, or other hydrating beverages throughout the day instead of chugging beverages

Water is always recommended for staying hydrated, but I get tired of water sometimes. So, what I drink to stay hydrated other than water? These are some delicious, hydrating things you can drink: 

  • Sports drinks
  • Smoothies
  • Milk (I can’t drink milk, but if you love it have a glass or two)
  • Coconut water
  • Aloe juice
  • Soup
  • Broths, like chicken broth
  • Tea
  • Herbal tea
  • Fruit infused water

These are the best ways to keep your skin hydrated from the inside out. Try fruits that are known for their high water content, like watermelon and strawberries. Make sure that you’re getting plenty of water throughout the day to help your skin bounce back. 

Hydrating Skin From The Outside

facial mist

Sometimes, you need something a little more than just drinking water and eating some fruit. You know that you’re hydrated, but your skin is displaying symptoms of dehydration. This is especially true in areas where there are harsh winters that are known for drying out the skin. These tips can help you keep your skin hydrated externally. 

Pick Up A Humidifier

A humidifier puts more moisture into the air. These are often recommended to help soothe skin conditions like eczema that cause dry, irritated skin. Putting more moisture into the air in your home can be especially helpful to combat dry, winter air. 


Lotion is designed to help lock in moisture. Thicker lotions are not always absorbed by the skin, but instead, they create a barrier on top of the skin. This helps keep moisture locked inside. Using facial lotions as a final step in your skincare routine can be very beneficial. However, it’s important to note that if you’re working on hydrating the skin using external methods throughout the day that barrier can prevent some of the moisture from getting to your skin. 

How To Hydrate Your Skin Without Lotion

If you don’t want to use a thick lotion throughout the day (I only use one at night), that’s understandable. Sometimes they can leave your skin feeling greasy, which isn’t ideal. Instead, pick up some aloe vera. This is known for being soothing when you have a sunburn, but it’s also a great product for giving your skin a quick boost of hydration. 

Use A Facial Mist Throughout The Day

Facial mists are great for a quick boost of hydration throughout the day. I skipped the makeup routine so that the ingredients in my facial mist could be easily absorbed throughout the day. Then, I kept a bottle of Pixie Glow Mist on my desk. It helped soothe the burning and irritation in my dry patches and didn’t make my oily patches worse. Make sure to check the ingredients list in your facial mist to get maximum hydration. Aloe vera is a great ingredient to look for. 

Rosewater is another great idea. Rosewater is known for its ability to hydrate skin. I don’t think it works quite as well as a facial mist with aloe vera, but we’re all different. If you find that your facial mist isn’t working for you, pick up some rose water. 

Use Hydrating Products

Illamasqua Hydra Veil is an awesome product for dry skin. It’s designed as a primer, but can also be used as a moisturizer. As a primer, it’s not the best on the market. It is amazing as a moisturizer for dehydrated skin. 

I get a dry line along my jawline during winter months that makes it look like I’m a beginner at applying foundation. The skin gets redder and is obviously a different color than my face. That line gets dry and irritated. Illamasqya Hydra Veil works wonders to soothe my skin and help with dryness. It’s worked wonders while my skin returns to normal, too. 

I love this product for this situation because you can keep using it after your skin isn’t dehydrated anymore. It works well if you have combination skin too. This product doesn’t make my oily patches worse. The gel like consistency means that a little goes a very long way. Even if you use this every day, it’s going to take a while to get through the entire jar. (Bonus: Illamasqua is also cruelty free.)

Final Thoughts

Temple Spa US

Dehydrated skin can be more than just another skin condition. It can result in quicker aging, painful irritation, and more. First, determine if you have dehydrated skin. Going to a dermatologist for a proper diagnosis is best, but these tips can help you decide what to do before your first appointment. If you do have dehydrated skin, combine as many of these tips as you can to get your skin hydrated as quickly as possible. Check out this article for more skincare tips!

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