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Difference between oily skin and hydrated skin

Difference Between Oily Skin & Hydrated Skin

Having oily skin doesn’t mean that your skin is hydrated - skin can be oily and dehydrated at the same time. The right oily skincare routine isn’t only about balancing oil production it needs to address hydration too.

Why oily skin can be dehydrated

Oily dehydrated skin is characterised by dullness, irritation and congestion. Many people wonder how oily skin can still be dehydrated, but it happens because dehydration is a skin condition that occurs due to lack of water, not lack of oil. This means that those with oily skin types can still be prone to dehydration, and in fact skin oiliness can be worsened by dehydration that triggers overproduction of oil.

Unlike dry skin, which is a skin type, dehydration is a skin condition that can affect all skin types, even oily ones.

This means signs of oil do not equate to signs of hydration! When the skin is dehydrated (lacking water) it overcompensates by producing more oil.

Dehydration occurs when the skin barrier, the protective uppermost layer of the skin known as the stratum corneum, lacks moisture.

Several factors can cause skin to become thirsty and dehydrated. Changes in the weather, using the wrong skincare, lifestyle choice (excessive alcohol consumption/smoking are examples), diet, and other environmental factors.

These all contribute to depleting the water content in your skin, leaving it parched and dehydrated on a cellular level.

Signs oily skin is dehydrated

If you have oily skin, some signs of dehydration include:

  • Dull skin & dark circles: Dehydration can cause skin to lose its radiance. You’ll notice your overall complexion becoming dull and lackluster when hydration levels are depleted. Shadowy circles under your eyes may become more obvious too.
  • Itchy & irritated skin: Without enough moisture in the outer layer of your skin, it can feel tight and itchy. Flaky patches are also common, even if there is excessive oil on the surface of the skin.
  • Increase breakouts & congestion: As pointed out earlier, dehydration can trigger the production of more oil - it’s the skin’s way to try and compensate for a lack of moisture. Excessive oil production increases the chance of blocked pores which can lead to everything from mild acne, like blackheads and pustules through to cystic acne.
  • Fine lines & wrinkles: Signs of ageing become more obvious when skin is dehydrated. When skin is lacking moisture, it loses the ability to bounce back. While dehydration does cause deeper lines to become more obvious, it also results in the appearance network of fine lines that are directly related to dehydration. Their appearance diminishes once skin returns to a hydrated state.

Ingredients to solve oily, dehydrated skin issues

Luckily, dehydration isn’t permanent. With the right oily skincare treatment and in some cases, lifestyle changes, you can nurture your skin back to a healthy state.

The best products for your oily skincare routine will be formulated with ingredients to keep skin hydrated.

Here are some ingredients on the hydration power list to look out for:

  • Hyaluronic acid: A natural humectant with superior hydration qualities. Acts like a magnet to attract moisture deep within the skin’s cells. Hyaluronic acid is revered for its ability to hold x1000 its own weight in water.
  • Niacinamide: Effective at restoring the skin barrier to guard against moisture loss and dehydration.
  • Squalene: Non-irritating and ideal for acne-prone skin, squalene is an antioxidant with beneficial moisturising properties.
  • Ceramides: Increase water retention properties by strengthening the skin barrier.

Other ingredients beneficial for an oily skincare routine are alpha hydroxy acids - to clear congestion - and Vitamin A ,C and E for a host of antioxidant benefits.

The best oily skincare routine


Your skin needs some of its natural oils to maintain a strong, healthy skin barrier.

A well functioning barrier means the skin is better able to retain moisture and transepidermal water loss (moisture evaporating off the skin) is minimised.

The ideal cleanser for an oily skincare routine is one that is gentle enough not to strip the skin of all oil while targeting congestion.

We recommend: The Uncomplicated Cleanser plus Charcoal Ideal for all skin types prone to congestion, breakouts, and large pores, the active ingredient charcoal purifies and balances oils for a refined, clearer complexion.


Adding a serum targeting dehydration is an effective way to give thirsty oily skin a moisture boost. Serums have a smaller molecular structure than moisturisers.

This means they can penetrate deeper into the skin to deliver a high concentration of active ingredients.

We recommend: Hyaluronic Hydrating Serum Perfect for all skin types and ages, this serum hydrates from the inside out, restores, repairs and reveals healthy skin and a hydrated glow.

Hyaluronic Serum contains Vit B3 (niacinamide) which will help to balance skin and regulate oil flow which can act as a preventative for breakouts. It also accelerates healing and repair post-breakout.


If you have any oily skin type, you might be tempted to skip the moisturising step assuming your skin doesn’t need hydration - it’s already oily!

This is a mistake as oil doesn’t signal hydration. Not moisturising means your skin won’t create the barrier that allows it to hold onto water, diminishing the hydration it really needs.

Oily skin also needs a moisturising product to improve the condition skin through the combination of humectants and emollients ingredients found in moisturising creams and oils.

Yes, that’s right. Oily skin types can use face oils! Many oils do an excellent job to help regulate oil production and increase hydration.

Not all oils are created equal though - some can aggravate sebum production. The best options for oily, breakout-prone skin are lightweight oils with a low comedogenic rating and those with calming, antibacterial properties. Jojoba, acai, rosehip, and almond oil are all effective options.

We recommend: Acai Skin Balancing Face Oil Ideal for all skin types, especially oily skin with balance concerns, this nourishing oil can replace moisturiser to improve tone, calm, and hydrate while regulating oil flow.

Peppermint Green Oil is an excellent choice for teenagers with oily skin. Highly moisturising with antiseptic and astringent properties to treat acne-prone skin, as well as anti-inflammatory properties targeting redness and inflammation.


Regular exfoliation should be part of every oily skincare regimen. Sloughing away dead skin cells and unblocking pores, exfoliation instantly improves skin tone and texture for brighter, fresher looking skin.

We recommend: Detoxifying Exfoliating Charcoal Serum. Containing a blend of lactic and glycolic acid, this powerful duo works together to slough away dead skin on the surface, reducing the appearance of blackheads and drawing out impurities.

Need help choosing the right products for your oily skincare routine? Book a free consultation with an esmi Skin Minerals Consultant. The team at esmi is always here to support you on your skin journey!

Difference between oily and dehydrated skin