The best moisturiser for dehydrated skin is needed when environmental and lifestyle factors affect the condition of our skin, giving it a dry, lacklustre feel. When we are hydrated, we have a sufficient water content in our body, so our body temperature can be regulated, toxins can be flushed out of our body, and the good stuff that is the oxygen and nutrients can be transported to our skin to nourish it from the inside out.

Sometimes people will misdiagnose their skin as dry when it is actually dehydrated. It is also possible to have oily skin that has a tendency to be either dry or dehydrated. Yes, it is possible to have acne and skin that is dry and/or dehydrated at the same time.

Dehydrated skin is a condition that can affect any skin type. Dry skin can become a condition, but essentially it is a skin type. With dry skin, there is a lack of oil, or lipids, but when skin is dehydrated, there is a lack of water in the top layer of the skin, which is called the stratum corneum.

It does not matter what your skin type is, as you’re not immune to the factors that can cause dehydration to attack, and for when it does, or to prevent it even getting there, finding the best moisturiser for dehydrated skin is a good place to start.

Dry skin feels rough, and can be flaky, whereas you can distinguish dehydrated skin from dry when it looks dull, has a tight feeling and feels rough too. It may be sensitive and show fine lines. This is obviously not how we want our skin to look and feel, so knowing what causes dehydrated skin is useful to know, so measures can be taken to stop our skin shrivelling up in a frenzy of thirst.

Causes of Dehydrated Skin

Dehydrated skin can be caused by environmental, health and lifestyle factors.

  • Environmental Factors

Sun - UVA from the sun is one of the major culprits for dehydrating our skin. A little bit of sun can give us the essential vitamin D that our body needs, but too much sun accelerates the ageing process, and increases both free radicals in the cells and oxidants in the skin.

Summer weather – along with the sun, often comes heat and dry air. This is also very dehydrating.

Winter weather – wind, rain and frost can result in dull, lifeless, red skin. This is the winter face you don’t want.

Air-conditioning and Central Heating – sometimes in hot or cold weather, we want to cool or warm the body up, but using air-con or central heating too much can take the hydration and life out of our skin.

  • Health Factors

Menstrual Cycle our skin changes depending on the stage of our menstrual cycle. Our skin is at its worst pre-menstrual as our estrogen levels drop, and estrogen helps to keep our skin hydrated, supple and smooth.

We are also more acne prone in the days leading up to menstruation. During menstruation itself, our estrogen levels remain low, so during these times in our cycle it would be an ideal time to use the best moisturiser for dehydrated skin.

Pregnancy – throughout pregnancy, your body uses high amounts of water, so it is more susceptible to becoming dehydrated.

Medication – there are certain medications that causes water loss in the skin.

Ageing – as we get older, our skins ability to retain water becomes less, and we are more likely to have dehydrated skin. This is why it is more important than ever to choose the best moisturiser for dehydrated skin.

Excessive sweating simply put, as we sweat, we lose water in the body and in the skin, and sweating excessively makes replacing these lost fluids a little harder.

  • Lifestyle Factors

A) Hot Showers, Baths and Hard Water – in places where the water quality is hard, there is a higher level of limestone that can remove water from the skin. Having shorter baths and showers can reduce the dehydrating effects hot water can have on the skin.

B) Lack of Skincare – this is where finding the right and best moisturiser for dehydrated skin is vital, as this is a factor that you can have more control of. When we neglect our skin by not removing our make-up, for example, we make the skin work harder to repair and renew itself, especially if we are wearing our make-up to bed, which is the prime time for our skins renewal and rejuvenation.

C) Too Much of the Wrong Skincare – harsh chemicals can aggravate our skin and sometimes we have simply chosen the wrong products for our individual skin, or we are using our products infrequently. Buy a cleanser for your skin type, and research the best moisturiser for dehydrated skin which will help to replenish your skin.

D) Stress - stress can be detrimental on the skin. Over time, it can cause a person to age quickly, along with a host of other skin issues including redness, acne, dryness, and of course, dehydration. When the body is stressed, its response is to overproduce the cortisol hormone. Our adrenal glands are always producing cortisol, but when we feel the effects of stress, our bodies can produce too much.

Cortisol is inflammatory, and amongst many effects it can have one is that it decreases your body’s ability to retain water. The result is dull, dry skin. Learning how to better manage the inevitable daily stress of our lives will not only make us a lot calmer and happier, but we are more likely to have more hydrated, glowing skin.

Many people report that meditation has a drastic effect on the condition of their skin because improved circulation means that oxygen in the body is getting to the skin more efficiently, and facials muscles also become more consistently relaxed which leads to less wrinkle-forming frowning.

E) Eating Foods that Dehydrate – many of us have to have a few cups of coffee a day to give us the strength and energy to get through the day. The bad news is that this daily habit could be keeping you in a constant state of dehydration, as caffeine is a diuretic, simply meaning that it dehydrates the skin. For those coffee and tea lovers out there, maybe reducing the amount of cups you have a day will help to rehydrate your skin.

Sugar is another dehydrating culprit. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. A glycation process happens in the body after consuming sugar, which is when the sugars attach themselves to proteins to form advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These are molecules that damage collagen and elastin and this means lacklustre skin wrinkling at a faster rate.

Alcohol causes inflammation in the body, as well as dehydrating it, which has a detrimental effect on the skin. These two effects combined can result in red, blotchy, dull and dehydrated skin. Drinking water can counteract the negative effects alcohol can have on the body, and so can cutting back on alcohol a little bit, or even altogether.

Saturated fats affect the blood circulation, which impedes the nutrients getting to your skin through the oxygen in your blood supply.

F) Not Drinking (Or Eating) Enough Water – it’s important to drink 8 – 10 glasses of water a day, but sometimes this is not enough to hydrate us sufficiently, because we should always try to eat our water in water-rich fruit and vegetables. This is a way to make sure we are staying hydrated by consuming the pure water from the fruit and vegetables and the nutrients and minerals that will also add to the vibrancy of that skin glow we desire. Not to mention the added benefits to your overall health when you increase your intake of fruit and vegetables.

G) Smoking – most smokers already know that smoking is detrimental for the health of their lungs, heart and brain, so this is something they don’t need to be told. Not all smokers are aware of the damaging effects smoking has on the skin, but it effects skin both immediately and over time. Smoking decreases oxygen in the blood and constricts blood vessels. When combining smoking with the skins contact with UV rays, the effects become more significant.

So, these are the causes of dehydration that we can try to manage and sometimes avoid. A factor that we can control is what we put on our skin to fight all the other factors. Now here is a list of the best moisturiser for dehydrated skin:

Natures Best Moisturiser for Dehydrated Skin

  • Shea Butter

Shea butter is renowned as one of the top, best moisturiser for dehydrated skin that is a natural option. The butter is easily absorbed into the skin and offers a bit of extra protection from the suns harmful rays, as an SPF 6. Make sure not to ditch your normal SPF though, as shea butter alone cannot be relied on to protect your skin from the burning and aging effects of the sun.

Shea butter nourishes the skin for optimal collagen production. African women in the areas where the nut is grown, such as in the dry savannah of West Africa and the Ethiopian highlands, use it to keep their skin deeply moisturised in the extreme, drying weather conditions. This is because shea butter nourishes the skin with vitamin A, vitamin E, and an abundance of phytonutrients.

What makes shea butter hydrating is its richness of oleic acid, which helps the skin seal in extra moisture. It strengthens cell membrane integrity, keeping the skin healthy and its water levels intact.

It also contains oleic acids cousin - linoleic acid. This supports the regeneration of skin cells. If you have both dehydrated and acne prone skin, linoleic acid helps to rehydrate the skin but is suitable for the treatment of acne as well. There is a huge myth that oils are bad for oily skin. This is not true, although different oils will work for different people. People with oily skin should look for linoleic acid as a component of oils, because this skin type has lower levels of this. A top-up of this acid can help in the treatment of acne, whilst supporting healthy hydration.

  • Avocado oil

Persea Americana, or better known as avocado oil, can often be found as one of the ingredients in many skincare products these days, and for good reason. It might not smell of roses (got to be honest), but it’s not an awful smell either – just nice and nutty! That feels a little insignificant when you look at the extraordinary properties avocado oil has, making it one of the best moisturiser for dehydrated skin.

This oil is rich in essential fatty acids and vitamins A, C, D and E, as well as an abundance of minerals. When avocado oil is unrefined and cold pressed, which is how you buy it for a better quality of the oil, it will have a dark green colour.

Despite the thick texture and heavy feel, the oil absorbs fast, and has a low to moderate comedogenic rating of causing acne. The revitalising goodness of avocado penetrates deep into your epidermis, the outer layer that makes up the three layers of skin.

The oleic acid content in avocado oil is also anti-inflammatory. You should always patch test an oil and then try it out for a few weeks to see what kind of impact it has on your skin and if it causes acne.

  • Camellia Japanese oil

There are not enough words to express how camellia oil feels when you slip it onto the skin. Camellia oil is native to Southern Japan and its other names are Rose of Winter, and Tsubaki in Japanese.

Not only is it very gentle, but you can find pleasure in knowing that the Japanese geishas have been using this as their ultimate beauty secret for centuries, and the modern-day geishas still use the oil to this day. And geishas know a thing or two about long-lasting vitality and beauty. Knowing that this oil has been passed down for generations as part of Japanese rituals makes you feel an affinity to a rich culture and history.

The oil makes the skin feel and look smooth and supple, and that has to do with its omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids, essential for maintaining water levels in the skin. Another component is linoleic and oleic acid, vitamins A and B, tocotrienols (Vitamin E) Palmitic acid, linoleic acid and oleic acid. These all work together to synergistically replenish lost moisture levels. Your skin gets that glow after it has been soothed by the anti-inflammatory oleic acid. Are you going to make camellia oil one of your calming rituals?

  • Marula oil

Africa’s best beauty secret is this deeply hydrating and nutritive oil, full of antioxidants, vitamins and omegas that all nourish the health of the skin. Its essential fatty acids of Omega 9 – Oleic and Omega 6 – linoleic hydrates and moisturises the skin, as marula oil reduces transepidermal water loss, making it one of the best moisturiser for dehydrated skin.

Marula oil is an excellent antiaging moisturiser for partly because of its rich vitamin C content, which is essential for promoting the production of collagen. As dehydrated skin is prone to fine lines, wrinkles, blotchiness and redness, marula oil works against this to replenish the water loss and restore skin elasticity and suppleness. The result is a radiance and your friends asking what moisturiser you are using.

Firmness of the skin is encouraged with the presence of vitamin E in the oil, which promotes the production of collagen and elastin. Free radical damage from the environmental stressors that can cause dehydrated skin can be tackled with marula oil, as the antioxidants help protect against and prevent this damage.

For more nutritional information about marula oil, you can read this article on how marula oil and argan oil compare and finding which one is right for you: marula oil vs argan oil

  • Carrot Seed Oil

Carrot seed oil is a rejuvenating oil, extracted from the seed of the carrot plant. Smelling wood and root-like, what makes carrot oil special is carotol. This is one of the components that makes up 40% of carrot seed essential oil. Vitamin E is also found in large amounts, which helps to lock in moisture in the skin.

Another key ingredient is Vitamin C, which protects your skin from the ravishing effects of environmental factors. When Vitamin C and Vitamin E are combined in skincare, the antiaging and sun protection benefits are greater than if you used one of them alone. Together they are a powerful duo that fights aging by destroying free radicals that are out to attack your precious collagen.

One thing that makes this oil great is that it is a nourishing moisturiser, minus any pore clogging. You don’t have to worry about your skin becoming more congested with acne or blackheads!

Use a few drops of carrot seed oil to massage over your face or mix it in with your moisturiser for an added splash of extra hydration. Alternatively, you can mix it with other plant oils and create your facial oil combination yourself!

So, these natural options are the best moisturisers for dehydrated skin. My personal favourite is camellia oil, but yours might be one of the others!

Are you excited to try one of these moisture replenishing oils? Feel free to let us know how you get on with any of them!


Written by Jess Burman

Wellbeing writer

BA (Honours) in Writing