Dehydrated skin

Dehydrated skin appears as a lack of radiance and comfort with intense, persistent tightness.

The skin feels itchy, especially after washing and also has scales. This is an unusual, temporary state that is not necessary related to a “dry” skin type. This means oily skin can easily have times when it is dehydrated.

What causes skin dehydration?

Woman drinking water
  • Water, just like air, is an element essential to life.
  • Water accounts for approximately 65% of an adult’s total body weight.
  • Thus, a person weighing 70 kg is made up of around 49 litres of water, 15% of which are concentrated in the skin.
  • Water plays an essential role in the skin. The skin is a reservoir that other organs tap into. It facilitates exchanges with the exterior environment: water moves from the dermis to the surface by impregnating the various layers by diffusion.
  • This flow of water is called Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL). Naturally protected by a hydrolipidic film on its surface, the horny layer (outer layer of the epidermis) curbs this evaporation process.
  • If this physiological barrier is impaired, TEWL speeds up, thus making the skin dry. Water in the dermis no longer circulates to the epidermis; the hydrolipidic film stops functioning properly.

All sorts of factors can cause dehydration


Environmental factors

Cold, winter, wind, pollution, UV rays, etc.;


External factors

Such as tobacco or alcohol;


Emotional factors

Stress or fatigue


Certain medical treatments

Such as anti-acne or anti-cholesterol medications

Essential oils

Cosmetic products

that are too aggressive, detergent, stripping or drying

The skin is very sensitive to water deficiencies, that’s why it has a hydroregulation mechanism.

1) Skin hydroregulation

The skin is 70% water. Nearly 75% is located deep down in the dermis where it plays an important role in the skin’s resistance.

2 elements moisturise the epidermis:

  • static water, which is fixed,
  • and dynamic water, which circulates.

Hydroregulation achieves a balance between these two aqueous components and it alone guarantees the skin’s physical and functional integrity. Three main factors contribute to hydroregulation: NMFs (Natural Moisturizing Factors), lipids in the horny layer and aquaporins.

Water drops

2) NMFs (Natural Moisturizing Factors), hydroregulation factors

NMFs are molecules that can bind water within the horny layer; they are called humectants. The most commonly known NMFs are urea and lactic acid.

Other substances used in cosmetics have the same properties; these include glycerine and xylitol.


How can you tell the difference between dry skin and dehydrated skin?

Dehydrated skin is always a temporary condition that can be reversed with appropriate products.

It is an alteration in the superficial layer of the epidermis that lacks water. This lack of hydration disturbs the skin’s barrier function and leads to discomfort.

On the other hand, dry or very dry skin is a permanent condition that describes a particular skin type that is lacking both water and lipids.


Who is affected?

All skin types can become dehydrated in certain circumstances or during particular seasons.

A dermatologist is the best resource for identifying skin disorders, finding the cause of your skin issues, and developing an adapted treatment. Please consult your dermatologist, doctor or pharmacist so that they may best advise you on your personal skin regimen.

A dermatologist will confirm your skin type and help you identify potential dehydrating factors, such as a change in work environment, swimming in a swimming pool, using an aggressive soap or shower gel, a recent illness or a medicated treatment (anti-cholesterol, etc.).

If you are able to identify the factor responsible for dehydration, you must correct it as soon as possible.

Doctor with patient - Prescription

  • Although skin dehydration is linked to poor water movement in the skin, you should still be sure to stay hydrated by drinking at least 1.5 litres of water per day (unless your doctor tells you otherwise).
  • Try to maintain a healthy indoor atmosphere by avoiding overheated or air conditioned rooms that accelerate evaporation. Also, it is always important to choose non-aggressive cleansing and skincare products.
  • Use rehydrating, non-detergent and, if necessary, superfatting cleansing products (in the form of milks, creams, balms, ointments and oils depending on the area and degree of dryness).


The aim is to reduce water evaporation, maintain a sufficient amount of water in the epidermis and repair the impaired skin barrier.

Brandwonden verzorgen

On you face and body, use products with a suitable pH that do not contain aggressive surfactants, such as a soap-free syndet or an emollient cleansing balm.

Woman washing her face with water

Twice a day after washing, remember to always gently apply a hydrating emollient product to repair the skin barrier and reduce tightness.

Protect yourself if you will be exposed to intense cold or UV rays. Remember to hydrate your skin after the pool to limit chlorine’s drying effect.

Bioderma - woman applying cream on the face