Dehydrated skin

Is your skin thirsty? Not only does it then become creased and brittle, it can even age more quickly. But how do you recognize that your skin is dehydrated and how can you treat it?

  • A disturbed skin barrier can cause the skin to lose too much moisture.

  • Dry (low-fat) skin is often dehydrated at the same time. Under unfavorable conditions, however, all skin types can be affected.

  • For dehydrated skin, it is important to drink enough and use moisturizing skin care products.

Dehydrierte Haut: Ursachen und Pflege
From Head of Cosmetics:

From Head of Cosmetics:

Medically reviewed by:

Medically reviewed by:

Dehydrierte Haut

What does dehydrated skin look like?

Dehydrated skin can be uncomfortably tight. Depending on your age, small wrinkles may appear more frequently and your skin may also flake or appear cracked. Dehydrated skin on the face is often noticeable through dark shadows or circles under the eyes. Or does your make-up quickly become blotchy and settle in the lines of your skin? This can also be an indication.

Important: An oily sheen does not rule out the possibility that your skin is lacking water. Your skin may well be oily and dehydrated at the same time. In this state, the skin feels tight and may even flake, even though it secretes sufficient sebum.

Severely dehydrated skin often leads to the symptom of standing skin folds. You can test this yourself: gently pull up a fold of skin on the back of your hand or forearm and release it again. Normally, the skin should return to its original smooth state within a few seconds. If the wrinkle remains for a long time, your skin is probably dehydrated. Note that the skin’s elasticity naturally decreases with age. This means that the test is not quite as meaningful at the age of 60.

How does dehydrated skin develop?

Normally, your skin protects itself from excessive moisture loss through various measures. You have already read about the hydrolipid film that seals your skin from the outside in the introduction.

In addition to skin lipids, the hydrolipid film contains another secret ingredient: natural moisturizing factors. These are various endogenous substances that have a hygroscopic, i.e. water-attracting, effect. They collect moisture and thus counteract evaporation. These moisturizing factors include lactic acid and other acids that are produced as waste products from sweat, sebum and dead horny cells. So a little “dirt” on the skin does no harm.

Despite these protective mechanisms, it can happen that the skin loses too much moisture. There are various external and internal causes for this – and often several of them play together.

External causes of dehydrated skin

Under unfavorable environmental conditions, it is very easy for your skin to lose too much water. The following factors may be to blame:

Humidity: Water evaporates more quickly at low humidity. You probably know this effect from air travel. Air conditioning or heating can also sometimes create a desert atmosphere in offices.
Temperature: Heat, cold and temperature fluctuations contribute to moisture loss from the skin. You also lose a lot of water through your sweat glands in the heat.
UV radiation: UV radiation is an important factor in summer. Among other things, it hinders the production of certain moisturizing factors in your skin.

You can protect yourself against some of these external causes: For example, by using sunscreen or setting up humidifiers indoors.

Internal causes of dehydrated skin

There are often (additional) internal causes if your skin is dehydrated, for example:

Lack of fluids: Sometimes dehydrated skin is a warning sign that the body is generally lacking fluids. Elderly people who feel little thirst are particularly at risk.
Diseases: Dehydrated skin is a typical symptom of many skin diseases or metabolic disorders. Certain medications are also a possible cause.

Skin ageing:
With increasing age, the body reduces the production of moisture-retaining substances. This is why mature skin is particularly prone to moisture loss.

Dry skin:
One of the most important causes of dehydrated skin is skin dryness, i.e. a lack of skin lipids. This makes it easier for moisture to evaporate from the top layer of skin.

What are the differences between dehydrated skin and dry skin?

Dehydrated and dry skin are not the same thing. Because “dehydrated” means low in water. And “dry”, on the other hand, refers to the lack of skin lipids. While dry skin has a
skin type
that does not fundamentally change over the course of a person’s life, dehydrated skin is a temporary skin condition. It is reversible if the causes can be eliminated.

Dry skin is often also dehydrated because it is less able to retain water. Under unfavorable conditions, however, all skin types can become temporarily dehydrated.

When does dehydrated skin become a problem

Unfortunately, dehydrated skin is not just a beauty problem. This is because the lack of water makes the skin more brittle and therefore more susceptible to injuries and skin tears. In extreme cases, dehydration eczema, also known as craquelure eczema, may develop. The name comes from the fact that the fine cracks and fissures in the skin are reminiscent of the craquelé look of old oil paintings.

Once damaged, the skin becomes more sensitive to environmental influences. Pollutants, allergens or pathogens have an easier time. In addition, the ability to regenerate is impaired because water in the skin serves as a means of transportation for nutrients. This can also contribute to premature skin ageing.

Dehydrated skin: the right cleanser

Although dehydrated skin needs more water, cleansing can still be part of the problem: you’ve probably noticed that your fingertips look like shriveled dried fruit after a long bath.

What happened there? The horny layer of your skin initially soaks up water and swells. At the same time, however, the water removes valuable skin oils and moisturizing substances from your skin. This allows the moisture to evaporate unchecked in the next step, leaving behind skin that is both dry and dehydrated.

It would therefore make medical sense to wash as briefly as possible and not too frequently – even if this often contradicts our modern hygiene habits.

An exception is blemished or acne-prone skin, which should be cleansed twice a day to remove excess sebum. Ask the pharmacy or doctor’s surgery for advice on which products are suitable. Commercial products are sometimes too aggressive, which can unbalance your skin: It dehydrates and is still very greasy.

Dehydrated skin: the right care

You now know the symptoms of dehydrated skin, possible causes and risk factors. But how can dehydrated skin be treated?

Supply the skin with water from the inside

The first important step is to drink enough, especially pure water. The medical recommendation is at least 35 grams per kilogram of body weight, which means around 2 liters a day for adults. If you lose a lot of water through sweating, your fluid requirement quickly doubles or more.

Scientific studies show that people who don’t like to drink benefit most from replenishing their fluid stores. However, if you are already drinking enough and still have dehydrated skin, the causes are to be found elsewhere.

Type-appropriate care for dehydrated skin

Dehydrated skin craves water. However, to prevent the moisture from evaporating again immediately, good skin care creams contain water-binding substances. This is an attempt to imitate the function of the natural moisturizing factors in our skin. So make sure your moisturizer contains moisturizing substances such as urea, lactic acid or glycerine.

It is also important to know and consider your skin type:

  • For
    dry skin
    you should treat the causes and not just the symptoms. This means that your skin urgently needs oils as well as moisture. A lipolotion or even fatty ointment helps to rebuild the skin’s hydrolipidic film.
  • For
    oily skin
    the formulation of your moisturizer can be lighter. It should therefore contain a higher proportion of water and less fat.

  • Combination skin
    often requires adapted care products for oily and drier skin areas. Here you should pay close attention to the current condition of your skin.

Good to know: Moisturizers are an anti-aging tool that is as simple as it is effective. This is because well-hydrated skin not only looks plumper and smoother, it is also healthier and can regenerate better, which counteracts signs of premature ageing such as wrinkles and age spots.

Any questions? Our FAQ section has the answers!

These are not necessarily mutually exclusive. You can recognize oily skin by its typical greasy shine and enlarged pores. Dehydrated skin is subjectively noticeable through a feeling of tightness, externally the skin can appear dull and flaky. Dehydrated skin is often dry (low in oil) at the same time. However, oily skin can also be dehydrated (dehydrated) at times – it then becomes tight and greasy at the same time.

If the skin is dehydrated, many metabolic processes no longer function as well. This is because the water stored in the skin serves, among other things, as a means of transportation so that nutrients can reach the cells directly. In addition, dehydrated skin becomes more brittle, deforms and stretches less readily, which can lead to minor injuries such as skin tears.

A good moisturizer should contain substances that help to bind water in the skin. These ingredients, among others, have a remoistening effect:

  • Urea
  • Lactic acid
  • Amino acids (such as alanine, arginine, glycine, histidine)
  • Glycerine
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Pyrrolidone carboxylic acid (PCA)

More questions? Simply make a personal consultation appointment online.


Last updated: 28.05.2024