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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!


Hi I’m meha. Actually my skin has got dehydrated and my doctor has recommended me to use avene cleanser and avene hydrance as moisturizer. But I don’t see any change in my skin though I’m drinking quite a lot of water plus lots of fruits.

Meha @ 2020-12-14 8:30am

i thought i had dry skin all this time but i have dehydrated skin! i am dry but oily at the same time and this explains why. My skin also feels so right when cleansing. my question is the neutrogena water gel based moisturiser is that acceptable to use on dehydrated skin?

Sophie @ 2019-08-04 12:39pm

Hi I am 29 and I have oily dehydrated skin.
I have visible big pores under my eyes. Tried consulting many dermatologists but nothing works. The medications made my skin either too dry or too oily.
I visited one dermatologist who tested my skin and said I had oily dehydrated skin and gave me exfoliaters, Toner, cream and facewash with steps which I had to follow 3 times a day. I did this for 1 month and it worked. Also all those creams and exfoliaters were very expensive. I paid 10,000 Indian rs but my skin was back to normal. But it is really hard to follow as I go to office and now my skin looks dull with open pores.
It looks really bad And my skin looks very dull.
What can I do.

Priya @ 2019-07-17 7:27am

Which Face cleanser , Toner and Moisturizer do you suggest for a Dehydrated Skin for Men ? And also do you suggest for a exfoloiation for a dehydrated skin ?

SGR @ 2019-03-19 8:22am

That’s exactly my partners skin! It’ very dry, but constany with spots, especially on the forhead. He cannot use acne products because they cause even more damage… i bought for him swt of organic aloe cosmetics and it seems to help, however he left his facewash in the hotel last weekend and he was using mine (combination skin, but fully under control) and it’a again dramatic, like he’s 16 again not 28… we are running out of options. I ordered the foam but it seems like he cannot use anything else. On the top of his back are also spots. Does anyone know any proper, doctor/cosmetologist treatment? He had antibiotic treatment for 10weeks and RX cream, it didn’t work, his skin got even more dry. I was thinking that maybe the diet change (i am nutritionist), but he’s not into changing eating habits.

Dominika @ 2019-01-22 1:48am

Hey, Dani! This time of year can be brutal on us ladies with dry skin. One of my favorite all-inclusive products is https://www.skincarebyalana.com/alana-mitchell-organic-mct-facial-oil.html. It works beautifully all over the body. It can also be used a makeup remover or even a lip emollient.

Alana @ 2018-12-04 4:20pm

Hai Alana…
Im Sindhu…from India…
As u said i have very dehydrated skin and acne prone and oily skin…previously my doctor recommended me to use azeliac acid gel for acne vulgaris(which literally ruined my life very badly,i totally lost all my charm)…luckily this azeliac acid cured me from that episode…but later on when ever im using azeliac acid that part my skin is getting very dry and flaky…and more over im not getting rid of this pimples…which is making me low…and to accept my fault i dont drink water much…and to my bad luck none of skin care products suits me…i tried using many products none of them not only suits me but make me worst…for Eg-most natural bodyshops (teatree) products also made me down…and now im left with worries,low self confidence,affraid to face some one,failures….

My question is – how can i get my skin back ?
– how to reduce pimples/acne ?
– how to maintain hydrated skin (apart from drinking lots of water)
– how should i maintain my daily routine skin care ?
– should i get some treatment from dermatologist?
(Like chemical peel or laser etc as i got skin pits and acne on my skin )
– what products can i use with out any fear ?
– what care should i take to maintain plumpy skin ?
– any diet suggestions ?
Plss ALANA…. help me out from this problem…i will be very thankfull to you…my life is stucked…i just want to move on with positive hope…

Thanking you,

Sindhu penti @ 2018-06-29 10:46am

Hi! Hyaluronic acid (Sodium Hyaluronate) is actually a water binder that allows your cells to hold onto water that would normally be depleted by the products we use, our environment, etc. That being said, I think hyaluronic acid would do wonders for your skin. Here are some products that would work for you:
I have a hyaluronic acid serum from my personal skincare line in case you want to splurge :) I love it!

Alana @ 2018-06-15 1:48pm

I have suffered from acne since a young age. I recently discovered daily facial cleanser from Cetaphil twice a day, differin gel at night and salicylic acid moisturizer in the morning does wonders however it does dry out my skin terribly. I’ve always had oily skin and this has just increased my oiliness. However because this combo works for my moderate to severe acne I don’t want to stop it! I think I just need to find a great moisturizer.

I have been looking at hyaluronic acid but unfortunately it remains out of my price range. I’m struggling to find one at a drugstore budget , around $20. Could you assist with recommendations? And lastly is there a correct or more ideal way to use this product? I may be repeating a myth but I thought that this product was not actually a moisturizer but draws moisture from the air. I would greatly appreciate help because currently my choices are oily, acne clogged face or oily, dehydrated, sore around the nose and mouth from over-drying products but minimal to zero acne face. Although that choice is not clear I choose the latter. I honestly honestly believe that if I find a product that can help me sink moisture into my skin the acne might be a thing of the past. I’ve suffered terribly for over 15 years and I’m so close! I have honestly tried all of that new treatments and this unique combo is the only thing that has gotten me this clear

Clearerme @ 2018-06-15 10:29am

Hello! It’s really common for teenagers to have combination skin, which is why so many skincare lines cater to that particular skin type. I think a great option for you would be https://www.skincarebyalana.com/image-skincare/ormedic.html. It’s an organic line that caters to balancing out combination problematic skin. An ingredient that I think would be very beneficial for you would be Brazilian Propolis https://www.skincarebyalana.com/epicuren-products/brazilian-propolis.html. It’s a natural ingredient that works diligently to balance acneic skin. I hope this is helpful!

Alana @ 2018-06-13 11:39am

Hey, I am 16 and i have oily dehydrated acne prone skin, my areas around the nose and forhead are greasy while my cheeks are dry and itchy and sometimes sticky. i got some blackheads too. i also got some red scars on my face as i poked them earlier. my skin is irritant to chemicals and cause me to break out most of the time. i am actually searching for some organic skin care products (cleansers, moisturisers, sunscreen mainly) to fix this issue. ,My dermatalogist said me to avoid sugary, dairy and caffeine like products and increase the intake of vitamins. this has helped me a bit but not fully. since i am not able to find the right products for me, i am not carrying out any skincare regimen. Help me out before my skin gets more problematic.

sanjida akter @ 2018-06-08 7:00am

Hi, Monica! I personally love any moisturizer with hyaluronic acid as it’s gentle and effective for all skin types. For exfoliation, I love chemical-based products (think alpha hydroxy acids and fruit enzymes). I hope this helps!

Alana @ 2018-05-31 10:21am

Thank you for the info. Which moisturizer would you recommend? What about exfoliation?

Monica @ 2018-05-30 4:37am


I am going through a bit of a skin change (i pray that its temporary). For the past three weeks my face has been VERY oily. I don’t normally have oily skin so I started panicking! I immediately went out to the store to buy gentle cleansers and moisturizers (cetaphil) and establish a daily skincare routine, cleansing and moisturizing morning and night. And I tried using a clay mask (have only used it once so far). After doing this for a week now, I have not noticed a difference. My face gets gradually more oily throughout the day and this is not normal for me at all. At first I thought it might be due to stress or the weather. This started at the beginning of May when it has gotten a lot warmer. I was also going through finals and other stressful situations. Another thing I might add is that I believe i have pityrosporum folliculitis which is an overgrowth of yeast and creates small tiny bumps all over the forehead.. A lot of blogs were saying to use Nizoral (a dandruff shampoo) twice a day and use nothing else and that should clear it up. I started doing that but that’s exactly when my oily skin started to happen. I stopped using it when I noticed my skin was getting oily, but the oil hasn’t gone away, and got worse. That’s why I am wondering if I may have dehydrated my skin and now its over producing sebum? I’m not sure what to do at this point. I’m frustrated because I look awful! Do i continue using the products for oily skin or do i use products for normal/dry skin? Is my skin actually dehydrated? I couldn’t tell if the pinch test worked. Any advice would help!

Heidi @ 2018-05-23 4:44pm

Hi Heidi! I recommend a gel-based moisturizer or a moisturizer with skin-balancing properties like the ones below:


Additionally, ingredients like hyaluronic acid, silver, and willow herb will help hydrate your skin and balance the overproduction of sebum.

I hope this helps!

Alana @ 2018-05-25 8:46am

Hi, I have 46 yo skin that in my forties has become DRY slightly combo but is definitely dehydrated badly and I have developed severehormonal cystic acne on my chin, jawline, and under my chin that are very painful as well as hair in the acne. Would you still recommend the above products. Which ones and I noticed you didn’t recommend a cleanser or toner.
Please help,

Monica @ 2018-03-23 1:49am

Hi Monica, since your acne is hormonal, I recommend visiting your doctor to fix the root of the issue. Products will help, but they won’t be the final solution. Ingredient-wise, hyaluronic acid is going to become your BFF! It’ll add hydration without oiliness, which can complicate an acneic skin condition.
That being said, I’d recommend trying the Image Ormedic Cleanser. You can find it on my website! It’s organic and a thicker gel consistency to hydrate and cleanse without stripping moisture. It’s also pH balanced so you won’t need a toner.
I think the products listed in the post would work for you, but to be safe, I wouldn’t try everything at once. For example, start with my Moisture Boost serum and see how your skin reacts. Then work your way up to layering it with a moisturizer. I hope this helps!

Alana @ 2018-03-27 9:04am

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