Posted on by CosMedical Technologies

Dryness isn’t always what it seems. When your client’s moisturizer doesn’t seem to be helping their dull, tight, or itchy skin, it’s important to find out whether their skin is dry or dehydrated (or both). The symptoms may be similar, but the causes are different — and so are the solutions. Find out how to tell the difference. 


Dry skin is a genetic skin type caused by a reduced number of sebum glands, resulting in insufficient natural oils to keep skin conditioned and moisturized. The symptoms are chronic, although they tend to get worse in the wintertime.

Individuals with this skin type experience the most facial dryness around the nose, mouth, brows, and hairline; typically, the rest of their body is prone to dryness, as well. The texture  tends to be flakier and rougher, sometimes with an audible sandpaper-like grit. 

Dehydrated skin is a temporary condition that can affect any skin type, including oily and acne-prone. It’s caused by lack of water in the skin cells, generally due to overall dehydration in the body or a very dry external environment. Symptoms come and go.

It’s common for dehydrated skin to feel both dry and oily at once. Their skin feels thinner and tighter, leading to dull, crepey texture that often presents with redness, inflammation, congestion, and more noticeable fine lines. When pinched, the skin does not bounce back immediately. 


Dry skin types require ongoing maintenance. If the client’s current moisturizer isn’t helping, it’s likely because the formula is more hydration-focused. Since their skin lacks oils to seal in water, boosting its hydration will have limited benefits — any added moisture is likely to evaporate as quickly as it arrived. 

It’s important to replenish dry skin with lipids and emollients. We recommend:

Enriched Moisture Crème 

Lavishly textured moisturizer that helps repair, restore, and quench extra-dry skin. Made with squalene, an ingredient naturally found in human sebum, plus nourishing wheat germ oil and firming algae peptides.

Lipid Drops

Replenishing serum fortified with bioidentical glycolipids and phospholipids, which play a critical role in skin’s protective barrier. Provides instant and sustained moisture for smooth texture, glow, and plumper skin. (Safe for acne-prone skin.)

Additional tips:

  • Use gentle cleansers only and moisturize both AM and PM 
  • Steer clear of products with potentially drying ingredients, such as alcohol-based toners, clay masks, and salicylic acid treatments
  • Avoid facial scrubs and other types of manual exfoliation



Most cases of dehydrated skin are relatively simple to correct. If the client is moisturizing regularly and not seeing improvement, it’s likely because their moisturizer is heavy on emollients and occlusives — these ingredients help prevent moisture from evaporating from the skin, which isn’t very beneficial when there isn’t enough moisture in there to begin with. 

Dehydrated skin responds best to humectant formulas that pull water into the skin. We recommend:

HA+ Firming Boost

Powerful protective firming serum for instant 24-hour hydration. Boosts skin moisture with hyaluronic acid, which holds up to 1,000 times its weight in water. Calms and protects against inflammation with antioxidants and botanicals.

Multi Complex Night Crème

Nighttime moisturizer that hydrates and repairs skin while you sleep. Dramatically improves plumpness and elasticity with humectant glycerin, moisture-locking shea butter, rejuvenating retinoid, and potent antioxidants Lipochroman® and CoQ10. (Safe for acne-prone skin.)

Additional tips:

  • Boost the body’s hydration by drinking more water throughout the day
  • Avoid diuretic beverages like coffee, alcohol, and soda 
  • Use a humidifier to prevent dry air from pulling water out of skin



If the client’s dry or dehydrated skin symptoms don’t improve after following your recommendations, or if their skin initially presents with cracking, peeling, or significant redness, it’s possible they have a medical condition and should be diagnosed by a professional. 

Otherwise, your client should experience substantial and noticeable positive changes in the look and feel of their skin. Once the dryness is under control, you may choose to incorporate a targeted anti-aging moisturizer into their regimen for even more advanced revitalization. Explore our age-defying formulas in last week’s Guide to CosMedical’s Anti-Aging Moisturizers.