Dry and Dehydrated Skin

People often state that their skin is ‘dry’, describing it as feeling tight and uncomfortable, complaining that it is flaky, and saying that it looks matte and lifeless. 

However, despite the fact that a lot of people believe their skin to be dry, true dry skin (as defined as a skin ‘type’) is far less common than is generally believed, and it is more correctly called Lipid Dry skin because it refers to skin that is lacking in oils (lipids). More often those complaining that their skin is dry actually have dehydrated skin, that is it lacks water not oils. 

True lipid dry skins are often related to conditions such as eczema where the body’s mechanism for producing oils in the skin is compromised and as a result the skin is crusty and flaky.

What is the difference between dry and dehydrated skin?

Our skin produces two types of oils (lipids) 

 1) Sebum, which is produced by the sebaceous glands attached to follicles in the skin, is the most commonly known, due to its link to acne and oily skin. This also forms an integral part of the skin’s chemical barrier function, helping to maintain its pH and protecting the skin from harmful bacteria   

  2) Epidermal lipids, which are produced within cells lower down in the epidermis. These less well known lipids, including ceramides, fill the spaces between the epidermal skin cells, helping to cement the cells together. So, similar to bricks (cells) and mortar (epidermal lipids) creating a wall, they form a resilient physical barrier which helps to maintain water levels within the skin, preventing excess water escaping.  

A true lipid dry skin is lacking in sebum and epidermal lipids. Therefore their natural barrier function (both chemical and physical) is compromised and not as resilient as oilier skins.