Recognizing the difference between dry and dehydrated skin and more..

The terms ‘dry skin’ and ‘dehydrated skin’ often describe similar skin problems, but there is an important distinction between the two. Let’s dive into the nuances of these common skin conditions, their possible causes, and how to best treat them.

The skin barrier is a complex structure made up of several layers, with the epidermis as the outermost and most visible layer. This barrier plays a crucial role in protecting the body against external influences such as bacteria, viruses, harmful substances AND fluid loss. Here are the main components of the skin barrier:

  1. Epidermis: The epidermis is the top layer of the skin and consists of several layers of cells. New cells are continuously produced in the bottom layer and migrate to the surface. This layer also contains melanocytes, which produce pigment and protect against UV radiation.
  2. Stratum corneum: The outermost layer of the epidermis is known as the stratum corneum. It is composed of dead, flat skin cells (keratinocytes) linked together by lipids (fats), such as ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids. These lipids form an essential part of the skin barrier and prevent excessive moisture loss.
  3. Intermediate matrix: Between the skin cells in the stratum corneum there is a matrix of lipids and water, which keeps the skin supple and hydrated. This complex network of lipids forms a barrier that prevents moisture loss and protects the skin.

Skin barrier

Disruption of your water balance or lipids causes dehydrated or dry skin

When the skin barrier becomes disrupted, it can lead to a phenomenon called trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL). TEWL refers to the loss of water through the epidermis to the environment. The result is dry and dehydrated skin.

Dry skin is mainly caused by a deficiency of lipids or natural oils in the top layer of the skin, also known as the stratum corneum. This phenomenon can be influenced by various factors. Genetics plays a role in this, as some people naturally have a tendency towards less oily skin. In addition, external environmental factors can contribute significantly to the dehydration process.

Exposure to extreme weather conditions, such as cold winds or intense sun, can disrupt the skin’s natural moisture balance. Bathing or showering in hot water for long periods of time, while pleasant, can dry out the skin by washing away its natural oils. In addition, the use of harsh soaps can damage the skin’s protective lipid layer, causing moisture to be easily lost. Learn more about: Dry skin

Treatment: Restoring lipids is essential. Choose moisturizers with ingredients such as ceramides, fatty acids and cholesterol. Avoid hot showers and use mild cleansers to prevent further drying.

In contrast to dry skin, dehydrated skin is a specific condition in which there is insufficient water in the skin. This condition can occur when the skin’s natural moisture balance becomes disturbed, resulting in the skin being unable to retain sufficient water. There are various external factors that contribute to the development of dehydrated skin, with exposure to various environmental influences playing a key role.

Modern conveniences, such as air conditioning and central heating, can significantly contribute to skin moisture loss. Both the cold air from air conditioning and the heat from heating systems can deplete the skin’s natural hydration levels. In addition, extreme climatic conditions, such as low humidity or strong winds, can also rob the skin of essential moisture.

Treatment: Hydration is key. Use moisturizing products with hyaluronic acid, glycerin and other water-attracting ingredients. Drink plenty of water and consider using humidifiers in dry environments.

Distinguishing between dry and dehydrated skin can sometimes be difficult, but here are some tips that can help you:

Skin texture:

  • Dry skin: Often feels rough and flaky, with possible visible cracks or fissures.
  • Dehydrated skin: May feel soft, but may show fine lines and a tight feeling after cleansing.

Visible symptoms:

  • Dry skin: Possible redness, irritation and itching.
  • Dehydrated skin: Fine lines, especially around the eyes and mouth, and a dull appearance.

Seasonal changes:

  • Dry skin: Can be a constant condition all year round, often worsening in cold, dry weather conditions.
  • Dehydrated skin: May be seasonal, for example aggravated by air conditioning in summer.

Responds to products:

  • Dry skin: May respond to rich moisturizers.
  • Dehydrated skin: May benefit from light, moisturizing products without heavy oils.


  • Dry skin: Absorbs water slowly, may feel tight after exposure to water.
  • Dehydrated skin: Absorbs water quickly but does not retain it well, which can lead to rapid dehydration.

Age and genetics:

  • Dry skin: May be genetic and may be more common in older people.
  • Dehydrated skin: Can occur at any age and is often sensitive to external factors.

Response to treatments:

  • Dry skin: May take longer to respond to moisturizing treatments.
  • Dehydrated skin: Can improve quickly with moisturizing measures.

Both dehydrated and dry skin can lead to eczema. Dry skin can lead to eczema because the skin barrier is damaged and the skin becomes more sensitive to irritants. Dehydrated skin can lead to eczema because the skin becomes more sensitive to allergens and irritants.

Dehydrated skin can also lead to itching and irritation, which can contribute to the development of eczema. It is therefore important to properly hydrate both dry and dehydrated skin and protect it against irritants and allergens to reduce the risk of eczema.

Iconic Elements Sensitive and Calming Cream are designed for sensitive skin, and the Calming Cream is ideal when your skin is irritated.

What is the smartest way to hydrate your skin? The focus is on restoring your skin barrier in the epidermis. There are three types of ingredients that can help hydrate the skin: occlusive, humectant and emollient ingredients.

  • Occlusive ingredients, such as petroleum jelly, balms and mineral oil, form a barrier on the skin and prevent moisture from evaporating. They are especially useful for people with dry skin as they help the skin retain moisture.
  • Humectant ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, honey and glycerin, attract and retain moisture in the skin. They are especially useful for people with dehydrated skin as they help the skin retain moisture.
  • Emollient ingredients, such as shea butter, macadamia and jojoba oil, help keep the skin soft and supple by softening and hydrating the skin. They are useful for all skin types, but especially for those with dry skin.
Dehydrated Skin, Glycerin Moisturizer-Occlusive-Humectant-Emollient
Different Moisturizers: Occlusive, Humectant, Emollient

It is important to remember that using one type of ingredient is not enough to hydrate the skin. It is best to use a combination of occlusive, humectant and emollient ingredients to keep the skin well hydrated.

Iconic Elements Natural Moisturizer Cream is formulated with three main ingredients that effectively hydrate your skin without leaving a sticky feeling.

  1. Exfoliation: For both dry and dehydrated skin types, mild exfoliation can help remove dead skin cells and promote cell renewal.
  2. Sun protection: Protection against harmful UV rays is crucial for both skin types. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen to prevent further damage.
  3. Nutrition: A balanced diet with essential fatty acids and sufficient water intake contributes to healthy skin.

Diet can also influence skin health. Here are general dietary recommendations for both skin conditions:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Find them in oily fish such as salmon, chia seeds, flax seeds and walnuts. Omega-3 fatty acids hydrate the skin and reduce inflammation.
  • Vitamin E: Nuts, seeds, almonds and spinach are rich in this antioxidant. Vitamin E helps restore the skin’s moisture barrier.
  • Avocados: These contain healthy fats and vitamin E, both essential for healthy skin.
  • Water-rich vegetables: Think of cucumber, celery and tomatoes. Foods high in water contribute to the body’s overall hydration.
  • Zinc-rich foods: Red meat, beans and nuts are sources of zinc, which promotes skin healing and repair.
  • Vitamin C: Citrus fruits, strawberries and peppers contain vitamin C, which stimulates collagen production. Collagen is a structural protein that is essential for the firmness and elasticity of the skin. As we age, natural collagen production decreases, which can lead to the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. In addition, topical Vitamin C has also moisturizing properties, which means it can help maintain a good moisture balance in the skin.
  • Water intake: It sounds logical, drinking enough water is crucial for maintaining moisture in the skin.
  • Silica-rich foods: Oats, cucumber and lettuce contain silica, which supports skin hydration and elasticity. Silica is a trace element found in foods and is involved in the synthesis of collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid. This means that silica contributes to the elasticity and suppleness of the skin
  • Green Tea: The antioxidants in green tea promote healthy skin and hydration. It contains antioxidants, such as EGCG, which protect the skin against harmful external influences and can help reduce acne and pimples. Antioxidants are essential for healthy skin, as they also protect against damage and skin aging.
  • Collagen: a popular supplement is collagen, both skin elasticity and skin hydration were
  • Vitamin D supplementation: Vitamin D supplementation can be considered in consultation with a doctor, as a deficiency can cause skin problems. Learn more about vitamin D and dry skin
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol: Excessive intake can promote dehydration.

Understanding the nuances between dry and dehydrated skin is the first step to effective skin care. Consulting a dermatologist for a personalized treatment plan is always recommended to maintain the health and vitality of the skin.

Picture of Dr. Francis Wu

Dr. Francis Wu

Dr. Francis Wu, een vooraanstaande dermatoloog, is de drijvende kracht achter Iconic Elements. Hij heeft sinds 2004 zijn expertise ingezet om een veilige en effectieve huidverzorgingslijn te creëren, geschikt voor zowel gezonde huid als huidproblemen. Iconic Elements, opgericht in 2016, is de eerste brede skincare lijn in Nederland ontwikkeld door een dermatoloog. Als medisch specialist streeft Dr. Wu naar het bevorderen van het welzijn van mensen door hoogwaardige en effectieve huidverzorgingsproducten te bieden. De proefdiervrije en vegan producten vermijden schadelijke chemicaliën en bevatten natuurlijke ingrediënten.
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