Dehydration of the skin is a very common problem in which the body experiences excess loss of water. The upper layer of the skin, also known as the epidermis, fails to retain its optimum moisture. The internal hydration determines the amount of water that gets transmitted from the dermal reserve (inside) to the skin’s epidermal layers. This flow or trans-dermal water loss leads is the water’s movement through the epidermis.

Dryness and dehydration are two completely different phenomenons; however, people often tend to confuse between the two. Skin dryness occurs when it lacks oil whereas dehydration occurs when the skin lacks moisture. Dehydrated skin is dull and feels much like a tissue paper.

Ageing skin

Once we start ageing, the skin cells that carry less water replace the existing skin cells; this has a direct impact on how the skin looks. This is why a newborn baby’s skin feels so supple and soft; however, when you touch the skin of a older person, it is all wrinkled because the skin cells in their body carry only 50% water. As we age, cells tend to die and are replaced by the new ones, which fail to carry the requisite quantity of water leading to dehydration. 

Causes of Skin Dehydration

There are a number of internal factors that lead to skin dehydration, which aren’t under our control. However, there are also some external factors that cause skin dehydration, which include: 

Use of poor quality skin cleansers

If your skin feels extremely taut or even dry then blame is squarely upon your poor quality skin cleaners. Majority of the low-quality skin cleaners are harsh on the skin because they have highly alkaline, which leads to stripping of the thin film of hydro-lip from the skin’s surface. This exposes the internal layer leaving it unprotected and vulnerable to loss of moisture. Alcohol solutions and foam cleansers are equally harsh on your skin as they lead to the production of closed clogging, which ultimately develop into pustules and blackheads.

Skin cleansing

Skin Damage

If you have been using some topical ointments to treat chronic acne conditions then you have probably caused some damaged to your skin. Substances like retinoic acid, hydrogen peroxide hexachlorophene etc. are often used for treating acne but they can be extremely harsh on your skin. These substances heavily affect the flow of moisture, which makes your skin look withered and damaged.

Neglecting your skin

From smoking cigarettes to not drinking sufficient amounts of water, neglecting your skin involves a wide range of things. All these actually hamper the normal functioning of your body and skin. Not taking good care of your skin leads to less blood flow to the capillaries, this in turn reduces the moisture and nutrition flow to the skin cells resulting in wrinkles.

Illness and medication

Your skin can experience dehydration if you have been suffering from a chronic illness for a long period of time. There are certain illnesses that lead to internal dehydration whilst affecting the upper layer of the skin. Certain drugs like diuretics as well as the ones used in the treatment of flu and cold can adversely affect the skin’s surface. Cortisone use also leads to dehydration and can permanently affect the dermal layer.

Not moisturizing the skin

If you use the milky or light textured moisturizers then you must know one thing – these moisturizing lotions don’t provide adequate protection to your skin. Thus, there is a high chance that the water from the top surface of your skin evaporates quickly without even penetrating to the underlying layers. Thus, the superficial application of these moisturizers does very little to stop the natural dehydration of your skin cells.

moisturizing skin


Cell cohesion takes a heavy beating due to regular scrubbing, which in turn hampers the moisture retaining capacity of the cells and capillaries.


The alcohol based solutions used to wipe off sebum from your face are very strong cleansers. Now, over usage of these solutions can lead to dehydration of your skin.

Climate and air conditioning

Air conditioned rooms are often dry and the moisture on your skin will simply evaporate when you stay too long in such conditions. Similar dryness and dehydration is experienced when you are out for too long in a too hot or cold climate.


Too much of table salt can lead to a dehydrating effect on the skin and for similar reasons you must also avoid drinking too many cups of coffee or two much alcoholic beverages in a day.

balanced diet for skin dehydration

Tips to combat skin dehydration

You can easily prevent skin dehydration by maintaining optimum fluid levels in your body. However only intake of sufficient water won’t solve the problem of dehydration as you have to treat the problem internally too. You can prevent dehydration on a long term basis by resorting to a balanced diet along with application of topical lotions. You must use water based or oil based lotions only while sticking to a healthy diet.

Here is a list of things that you need to do to prevent skin dehydration:

  • Increase intake of eater to at least 2 liters every day. You must drink enough quantity of water so that your body does not lack the adequate supply of moisture to the tissues that are just under your skin.
  • You can use serums that have small sized molecules that penetrate deeper into the skin while hydrating cells. Keep in mind that the upper epidermis layer or the very topmost layer of the skin does not have its own blood supply. Which is why the external addition of the serum molecules help in keeping it hydrated, healthy and bright.
  • Exfoliate at regular intervals but don’t overdo it. Too much exfoliation can again lead to water loss or dehydration in the upper layers of the skin
  • Cream with lipid content: You must use protective creams with higher lipid content. This is because they have the same chemical composition as the upper layer of the skin. You need to use it in small quantity so that it forms a thin film on top of the skin and helps it in preventing water loss.

Even though dehydration can have long term consequences on your skin’s health, you can still regain some lost moisture by making finer changes to your diet. You must eat foods that have a higher content of essential fatty acids. Oils, fat, Avocado, Anchovies, Sardines, green vegetables and Tuna are some foods that have high amount of essential fatty acids. Thus, an internal and external healing approach is needed to effectively tackle the problem of skin dehydration.

Leave a Reply