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Answering the Question: Is It Possible to Have Both Dehydrated & Oily Skin?

Our skin can be a like complex puzzle full of contradictions.

Combination skin?

Adult acne?

Premature aging?


One question I get often from confused clients is, Is it possible to have oily and dry skin at the same time?

The simple answer is: yes. Dry but oily skin is no myth! One of the reasons this seems so odd is that many people mistakenly diagnose their skin as being dry when that’s not necessarily the case. Here is where you can learn how to treat oily skin that also feels dry!

According to Marie Bertrand, SkinScience Clinic founder and CEO:

In 80% of cases, think their skin is dry, but it’s actually dehydrated.

That’s right, ladies. All those times we don’t refill our water glasses, stay out too long soaking up the sun, or don’t apply lotion after a hot shower (But, I’m all shivery!) are doing a number on our skin.

There are a variety of factors that contribute to a dehydrated face, including dry weather. And with fall and winter right around the corner - Yay! Sweaters! Scarves! - it’s a good time to unravel the befuddling idea of having skin that feels oily and dry at the same time.

Today, I’m going to tell you how oily and dry skin is even possible, and share some of my favorite tips to care for your unique skin condition. Let’s get to it!

Skin Type vs. Skin Condition

First thing's first, it’s important to note the difference between your skin type and a temporary condition.

Your skin type is the skin you were born with and the way that your skin behaves pretty much all the time due to your genetic makeup and hormones.

A skin condition is usually a temporary concern and can be the result of outside influences including weather, diet, stress, skincare products, allergies, etc.

This means that people with different skin types can experience skin conditions that might come and go without changing the way their baseline skin behaves regularly. In other words, people with all types of skin might have things like acne, wrinkles, and, yes, dehydration.

Types Conditions

So how does my skin seem dry and oily at the same time?

To answer this question, we need to get down to the what defines dry skin and dehydrated skin. While they seem similar, their causes are actually different.

Dry Skin

Dry skin is a skin type and is caused by a lack of oil production. Your skin naturally secretes oil, or sebum, from the sebaceous glands in your pores to keep skin protected and stop it from drying out. If your skin produces more sebum than normal, then you have oily skin.

Dehydrated Skin

Dehydration is a skin condition caused by a lack of water. Our skin is made up of layers of water-based cells. In fact, it’s estimated that your skin contains 64% water! The top layer, or stratum corneum, includes lipids and sebum to help keep it protected. When this top layer is compromised (by, say, dry weather), it loses its ability to maintain hydration resulting in dry, flaky, tight, or itchy skin.


So while your skin might have enough oil, it might be lacking water. When your skin senses that it’s losing hydration, it actually produces more oil in an attempt to protect itself. If you already have oily skin, this can lead to the confusing :dry oily skin" look and feel.

This means your skin might be tight, flaky, or exhibiting fine lines while a layer of oil sits on the surface of your skin.

Sound all too familiar? Not to worry, friends! I’m happy to help you identify some causes of this tricky skin combination, tips for treatment and let you know what the best products for dehydrated skin are!

Dehydrated Skin

It’s reported that 75% of Americans are dehydrated.

Getting enough water is obviously important for our bodies to function at their best, but it’s also important for skin health.

As a busy mom, it can be tough to remember to drink enough water when I’m constantly on the go. I actually downloaded an app on my phone to send me reminders to hydrate! I love it when I reach my daily goal, and I definitely notice that when I’m well-hydrated, I feel better, have more energy, and my skin looks more glowy and youthful!

How do I know if I have dehydrated skin?

It can be tough to tell the difference between dry and dehydrated skin. If your skin is dry year round and never really oily, you likely have a dry skin type.

When it’s dehydrated, your skin might feel tight, have flaky patches or show fine lines while still feeling greasy or oily. It can also look more “sunken,” and dark eye circles can be more apparent.

Also, if you notice that your skin suddenly feels or looks drier than normal, it’s a pretty good indication that the cause could be temporary dehydration.

Another way to identify dehydrated skin is the pinch test or turgor test. Gently pinch the skin on the back of your hand and see if it bounces back into place. If it forms a little skin hill for a bit, get up and chug some water.



Causes of Dehydrated Skin

  • Wrong skincare products - First off, it’s important to make sure you’re using products formulated for your skin type. Harsh cleansers, alcohol-based toners, and over-exfoliation can damage your skin’s surface and strip away moisture.
  • Weather - Cold, hot, dry, and windy weather can literally suck moisture out of the skin. If you’re anything like me, you feel like your hands can’t get enough lotion during fall and winter months!
  • Turning up the heat - Speaking of cold weather, while those heaters and hot showers might make you feel cozy, they can really dry out skin. Consider compensating during chilly months by getting a humidifier for your home or bedroom.
  • Sun exposure - Sun damage can disrupt your skin and compromise its protective layer. Think of that tight feeling your skin has after a day in the sun. Make sure to always wear your daily SPF and keep skin moisturized if you’ve been out soaking up some rays!
  • Age - As we get older, hormone changes cause our skin to lose the ability to produce as much oil and tends to dry out.
  • Diet - Not eating a well-balanced diet and indulging in too many caffeinated drinks or after work cocktails is not the best for your skin. You can nourish skin from the inside by eating lots of vitamin-rich foods with a high moisture content (hello fruits and veggies!) and, of course, by drinking plenty of water.

Unfortunately, your skin is the last part of your body to receive hydration from water, so it’s important to provide hydration from the outside as well!

My Top Tips and Picks for Treating Dehydrated Skin

When treating dehydrated skin, your goal is to retain moisture. You want to deliver hydration and seal it in. As for products for dehydrated skin, consider adding a serum to your skincare routine, which typically contains a higher concentration of ingredients to deliver hydration to your skin’s deeper layers. Follow it up with a good moisturizer to keep all that wonderful hydration from leaving the skin.

If you have oily skin, you might think that you have enough natural moisture already. But remember, while your skin might have enough oil, it may be lacking in water, so it’s good to replenish skin’s hydration. And if it senses it doesn’t have enough hydration, it will produce more oil. Look for a moisturizer formulated for oily skin (preferably oil-free) to restore hydration and balance.

Pro tip: Never leave skin bare. As soon as you’re done showering or cleansing your face, don’t wait to apply your serum and moisturizer to really lock in skin’s moisture.

Here are some of my favorite dehydrated skin products to bring skin a much-needed dose of hydration!

Alana Mitchell Hyaluronic Moisture Boost Serum

I’m so excited to bring you my serum that I personally designed to deliver lots of hydration to skin. It features hyaluronic acid, a powerful humectant that binds moisture to the skin, as well as other great herbal and botanical ingredients to infuse moisture deep into skin’s layers to plump skin and restore hydration.


Bioelements Beyond Hydration

If you’ve got that winning combination of oily but dehydrated skin, this lightweight moisturizing gel is your new bestie. It drenches skin with moisture and fortifies skin’s protective barrier to prevent water loss without adding extra shine or clogging pores. Your skin is left hydrated, healthy, and balanced!

image C

Image Skincare Vital C Hydrating A C & E Serum

This potent serum features vitamins A, C, and E and will be your hydrating ACE in the hole (see what I did there? #notsorry). The ultra-hydrating formula not only infuses skin with moisture, it also works to stimulate cell turnover as well as collagen and elastin production to tone skin and fight wrinkles. Great for dehydrated, aging, or oily skin!


Dermalogica Skin Hydrating Masque

This luxurious masque not only wraps your skin’s surface in wonderful, restorative moisture, it also penetrates deep into your skin’s layers to repair damage and fight fine lines and wrinkles. Recommended for daily use, this would be a great way to treat skin throughout moisture-zapping fall and winter seasons.


ilike Organic Skin Care Hyaluronic Time Erase Complex Moisturizer

The herbal complex in this moisturizer works like a little army to restore your skin’s natural moisture barrier. It also features hyaluronic acid to grab moisture and deliver it to the deeper layers of your skin and smooths to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.


Osmosis Quench Plus+

If you’re looking for deep hydration with a kick of anti-aging benefits, this moisturizer is for you. As I mentioned, our skin tends to lose the ability to hold moisture as we age. This dual-action formula drenches skin with locked-in moisture while smoothing skin to diminish lines and wrinkles, stimulating collagen and elastin production, and fighting free radical damage. It’s everything you need in one rich moisturizer!

Final Thoughts

It can be tricky to figure out our skin sometimes, especially if you’re dealing with something like dry and oily skin. If you think your skin is dehydrated, adopt a habit of drinking water throughout the day and replenish hydration from the outside by applying moisture.

Whatever your skin concern, it’s important to take steps to treat it ASAP to stop it in its tracks so your skin can be its happiest and healthiest!

Have questions about how to deal with oily and dehydrated skin? Ask me in the comments section!

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