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What to do for Oily Dehydrated Skin

It may seem incongruent to think of oily skin as becoming dehydrated, but it’s a more common problem than you’d expect. Even if you have combination or oily skin, you may struggle with dryness and irritation, as well as visible dullness. In fact, oily skin can be worsened by dehydration as the skin compensates by overproducing oil.

What causes oily dehydrated skin?

Oily dehydrated skin occurs because dehydration is the result of a lack of water in the skin, not oil. Dehydration can therefore affect any skin type, even oily complexions.

Dehydration occurs as a result of the skin’s protective barrier lacking moisture, which can happen for a variety of reasons. Picking the wrong skincare products, especially those that are harsh or astringent in nature, changes in the weather, and even changes in your diet can all lead to degradation of the skin barrier.

What are the signs of oily dehydrated skin?

Dull appearance

When the skin is dehydrated, it may appear lackluster and lose some of its radiance. Additionally, dark circles under the eyes or other areas of hyperpigmentation may appear more obvious.


Dehydrated skin can often overcompensate by producing excess oil in an attempt to hydrate itself, but this often results in clogged pores and break out. Congested skin is more likely to result in acne, ranging from blackheads and whiteheads to more severe forms such as cystic acne.

Skin texture and Signs of aging

Dehydration may also inherently worsen visible skin texture and signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles. Hydrated skin appears plumper and more radiant, it bounces back more easily and deep wrinkles won’t appear as severe. Dehydration can even cause its own series of fine lines, which should disappear once the skin is rehydrated.

How to treat Oily Dehydrated Skin

Many people believe it may be best to eschew moisturizers when their skin becomes oily, but this can often worsen the problem. It is important to moisturize your skin even if you have an oily skin type, as this can help prevent dehydration and the accompanying risk of congestion and breakouts.

Best Ingredients to Look For

Moisturizing products containing things like hyaluronic acid can act as natural humectants, meaning they act as a magnet to trap water molecules in the skin cells. Similarly, ceramides can strengthen the skin barrier and provide water retention properties.

It can be useful for people with oily dehydrated skin to use a serum before their moisturizer, as these can penetrate the skin deeper and deliver thirsty oily skin with an extra dose of moisture.

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