Health and Beauty: Signs of Poor Skin Hydration

Dry skin lacks oil while dehydrated skin doesn't have enough internal moisture.

Dehydrated vs. Dry

Dry and dehydrated skin aren't the same thing. Dry skin lacks oils to hold in moisture, causing cracked skin that can even bleed. Or your skin may have lost moisture because of low humidity. Dehydrated skin doesn't have enough moisture on the inside.

Your skin needs adequate water so the skin layers work the way they are supposed to.

How Lack of Water Affects Skin

The layers of your skin need moisture to work the way they're supposed to. Without enough water, skin can't stretch or protect you as well as it should.

If your skin doesn't have enough water, it may look dull.

Dull Skin

You may notice your skin has a flat look to it. Dull skin doesn't have enough moisture to give it the radiance and shine healthy skin has.

Dry skin may lead to darkness under your eyes and a sunken look.

Sunken Eyes

You may notice darkness under your eyes. This can happen because without enough hydration, the skin around your eyes can pull away from your eye sockets and cause a sunken look.

Dehydration may lead to increased fine lines.

Fine Lines

Wrinkles are a natural part of aging, sun exposure, and genetics -- and no amount of water will prevent them. However, very fine lines may be a result of dehydration. More moisture can make skin plumper, so faint lines fade.

Dry or dehydrated skin may lead to cracking and itching.


Both dehydrated and dry skin can cause itching. Skin that cracks from dehydration can feel itchy. It can also let in bacteria.

Lack of moisture leads to a loss of skin elasticity and you may get under eye bags.

Bags Under Eyes

As your skin loses its elasticity (stretch) from a lack of moisture, the skin under your eyes can "pool" and cause under eye bags.

Try the pinch test on your arm to assess your level of hydration.

Pinch Test

To tell if you're dehydrated, you can do the "pinch test." Pinch a bit of skin on your arm between your thumb and forefinger. If you're well hydrated, it should go back to its original position a couple of seconds after you let go. If it doesn't, time to throw back some water.



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  • Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology: "Dietary water affects human skin hydration and biomechanics."
  • Nutrition Reviews: "Water, Hydration and Health."
  • Mayo Clinic: "Dehydration."
  • Cleveland Clinic: "Dry Skin."
  • Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery: "Infraorbital dark circles: A review of the pathogenesis, evaluation and treatment."
  • Nursing: "Assessing for dehydration in adults."
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