SKIN | Fixing dehydrated oily skin

If there’s one thing worse than oily skin, it’s dehydrated oily skin. It sounds like an oxymoron, but dehydrated oily skin is really common, and the dehydration can be making your oiliness look and feel worse.

It took me a while to figure out that my skin was dehydrated and oily, and that these were two different concerns I needed to address. From my time working at Clinique I’ve learned how to identify dehydrated oily skin, and three different techniques for addressing it.

Do you have dehydrated oily skin?

You’ll know if your skin is oily, but there are some common signs of dehydration if you’re not sure if your skin is oily and dehydrated. It can feel like you’ve got oily skin, but dry skin underneath—as though the excess oil your skin produces is just sitting on the surface. This feeling can come from products as well, like they’re not sinking in properly.

Sometimes you’ll see signs of texture: flakiness or just a crepe-y network of fine lines, especially when you pinch or lift the skin. You can do this to yourself, or find a friend and scrutinise each others’ skin together.

Gif showing how to test for dehydrated oily skin

Okay, so now what? My first piece of advice is get more water in ya. Flush your body to get rid of toxins, right? (Oh god it hurt just writing that.) Drinking more water will always help your skin, though, as well as having a million other health benefits. Drinking more water is not a magical fix for dehydrated oily skin, however.



Chemical exfoliation can go two ways, because overly stressing out your skin can make it more dehydrated. It is an important step, however, in ensuring that your follow-up treatment steps are as effective as possible. As well as removing excess oil and helping to balance its production, AHAs and BHA can help set your skin up to absorb products better. Better absorption = better hydration. Simple.

Products of choice: Formula 10.0.6 So Totally Clean Sensitive; Clinique Turnaround Revitalizing Lotion; First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads; Elizabeth Arden Skin Illuminating Retexturizing Pads*.



Give your skin something to drink up! This step is especially important if you’re in a dry-aired environment, like an office, aeroplane or generally not-humid place. Choose facial spritzes with hydrating active ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin. If you like plant-based ingredients, look for things like wheat germ extract, yeast extract and aloe vera (aloe barbadensis) water or extract. Even a simple water spray before adding your moisturising layer can be helpful, as the occlusives will lock that moisture into the skin.

Products of choice: MAC Mineralize Charged Water; Trilogy Hydrating Mist Toner*; Clinique Moisture Surge Hydrating Facial Spray (not pictured because Callum has mine!).



These are the products you might head straight towards for dry skin, but steer away from if your skin is oily at all—I know for a long time I avoided anything that talked about hydration or calling itself ‘intensive’ because I pictured it to be thick, heavy and greasy on my already oily skin. The key here is to look for water-based serums. Oils can and do work for oily skin, but they’re not what we’re after here, because they can’t introduce water. Instead, you want ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin and caprylic/capric triglyceride.The products pictured here are all very lightweight and absorb quickly, but deliver big hits of hydration.

If you’re desperate to keep your oil in your routine, by all means do so, but layer it over a water-based hydrating serum.

Products of choice: Antipodes Hosanna H2O Intensive Skin Plumping Serum*; Kiehl’s Hydro-Plumping Re-Texturizing Serum Concentrate*; Eve Lom Intense Hydration Serum; Goodness Every Morning Moisturiser*.

Go forth and hydrate! Let me know if you have any questions. Do you think you have dehydrated skin?

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  • Lucie_EB

    Morgan! How do you find the Kiehl’s and Eve Lom serums? I have a sample of the Kiehl’s to try and I tested out the Eve Lom in Mecca yesterday (it seemed nice on the hand). I’d love to know ya thoughts!

    • I love the Kiehls one because I can use it on its own on my oily skin – it pumps out like a gel but immediately feels very wet when you rub it in. The Eve Lom is similar but the dropper makes it slightly less convenient and I think it’s more expensive so I would suggest the Kiehls one over it probably!