You Might Be Confusing Your Dehydration Lines with Wrinkles, Here’s How To Tell

Dehydration Lines vs Wrinkles

Dehydration lines can easily make you think that you’ve aged overnight. Because they’re commonly mistaken for fine lines and even wrinkles. The good thing is that dehydration lines are much, much easier to get rid of than permanent wrinkles. In case you don’t know if you have them, we’re here to clear the air. But know that it’s important to make this distinction. Because women, especially young women, are constantly bombarded with anti-aging creams to treat the wrinkles they don’t even have. So the information below will help you get to know your skin and actually save you the frustration. Keep reading to learn about the differences between wrinkles and dehydration lines, what causes dehydration lines, and how to get rid of them.

What Are Dehydration Lines?

Dehydration lines are subtle, fine lines that appear on the skin caused by the lack of water, aka hydration, in the skin. In other words, dehydration lines form as a result of dehydrated skin (1).

Dehydration lines can appear all over the skin but they’re more visible on the forehead, around the eyes, and on the cheeks.

Dehydration lines can also worsen the look of existing lines on the skin such as the ones between the brows and around the mouth, which might make it easy to mistake them for expression lines or regular wrinkles.

Dehydration Lines vs Wrinkles

The major difference between dehydration lines and wrinkles is the cause, which factors into how you treat them too.

Dehydration lines form as a result of dehydrated skin caused by exposure to skin-stripping products, hot weather, or hot showers and if dehydration isn’t treated, it leads to dry skin (2).

As you can infer, if something is caused by a sudden change, it can easily be reversed by a quick change, which we’ll get to in more detail below.

Wrinkles, on the other hand, form as a result of collagen loss due to aging and other factors like UV exposure that add up over the years (3).

And as you can infer, if something takes years to form, it can take an equal amount of time to reverse, or in the case of wrinkles, reduce or soften.

Though there are different types of wrinkles, they don’t really have anything to do with how you hydrate or don’t hydrate your skin.

Unlike dehydration lines, actual fine lines and wrinkles require a dedicated anti-aging skincare routine followed consistently.

Depending on your preference, it involves using retinol, antioxidants, or even trying skincare treatments for quicker and better results.

What Do Dehydration Lines Look Like?

To better understand what dehydration lines look like, you need to know what dehydrated skin looks like. In general, dehydrated skin looks paler than usual.

Because lack of water causes a decrease in circulation, which gives the skin a dull appearance. Because of that, you usually don’t see healthy-looking rosy cheeks on dehydrated skin.

Additionally, dehydrated skin usually feels tighter, which is accompanied by itching. The second you start to scratch your skin, it feels like paper.

You can also feel the loss of elasticity where the skin doesn’t feel supple or bouncy but is rough and rigid. Sometimes, you might also see flaky skin and experience sensitivity.

So what do dehydration lines look like? Dehydration lines look like superficial lines on the skin. They can be in various shapes but they’re mostly superficial lines and creases.

When you look closely into a wrinkle, you can see that it actually looks like a valley in the skin where the wrinkle is entrenched and surrounded by plumper skin below and above it.

Dehydration lines don’t have that ‘valley’ appearance. They are superficial in every sense of the word.

How to Know If You Have Dehydration Lines or Wrinkles

A very simple way to understand if you have dehydration lines or wrinkles is by hydrating your skin topically. Use a hydrating serum or a hydrating moisturizer on damp skin. If the lines disappear after 15 minutes, they are dehydration lines. If they’re improved but still there, they’re wrinkles.

Are Dehydration Lines Permanent?

Dehydration lines are not permanent. Once you hydrate your skin, they are gone. However, skin dehydration can definitely make your expression lines look worse than they are and accelerate their settling. That’s why people with dry and dehydrated skin tend to look more wrinkly than they actually are (4).

And that’s why we always talk about the importance of establishing a proper skincare routine for women in their 20s. You don’t know how much difference hydration makes in your complexion until you properly hydrate it.

Additionally, we’ve established that dehydration can lead to dry skin. And dry skin, because of an impaired skin barrier, is more prone to damage from UV exposure or pollutants. So though indirectly, dehydration can accelerate the formation of premature signs of aging.

How to Get Rid of Dehydration Lines

The best and fastest way to get rid of dehydration lines is by using topical skincare formulated with hydrating skincare ingredients. Here’s how you can do it.

1. Determine the cause

You first need to identify whether your dehydration is acquired or chronic. For example, all skin types, including oily skin, can have dehydrated skin and experience dehydration lines from, say, over-exfoliation. But if your dehydration is chronic or if you have a dry skin type, it can mean that you have a compromised skin barrier and your skin not only lacks water but also lacks oils. In that sense, you need to care for dry skin and look for ways to improve your skin barrier function.

2. Start a hydrating skincare routine

Dehydration calls for hydration every step of the way. It means using a non-drying cleanser like a cream cleanser to stop further dehydrating your skin.

3. Use products for dehydrated skin

Add a hyaluronic acid serum into your routine, which is the antidote for dehydration lines.

4. Use humectant moisturizers

They are rich in hyaluronic acid, and glycerin. Look for lipids like ceramides and squalane in your humectant moisturizer to enhance hydration and smooth out the look of dehydration lines on the forehead and cheeks.

Also, the best type of eye cream for dehydration lines around the eyes is gel-based eye creams made with humectants. They attract and bind water to the skin and get rid of those fine lines and creases.

5. Use gel patches for dehydration lines

Anti-wrinkle patches, under-eye patches, or hydrogel patches are great for a quick win. They instantly hydrate and plump your skin and make your dehydration lines on the forehead and around the eyes disappear.

Hopefully, you now have a better idea about the differences between dehydration lines and wrinkles. Treating dehydration lines is easier than you think. You get rid of them by getting rid of dehydration. But the best way to make sure you don’t deal with them in the future is by avoiding the cause. Also, drinking enough water is always a reliable way to keep your body and your skin hydrated.


  1. Maul, J. T., Maul, L. V., Kägi, M., Cheng, P., Anzengruber, F., von Laue, M., Chen, Y., Kägi, M., & Navarini, A. (2020). Skin Recovery After Discontinuation of Long-Term Moisturizer Application: A Split-Face Comparison Pilot Study. Dermatology and therapy10(6), 1371–1382.
  2. Gade A, Matin T, Rubenstein R. Xeroderma. [Updated 2021 Nov 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from:
  3. Hashizume, H. (2004), Skin Aging and Dry Skin. The Journal of Dermatology, 31: 603-609.
  4. Choi, J.W., Kwon, S.H., Huh, C.H., Park, K.C. and Youn, S.W. (2013), The influences of skin visco-elasticity, hydration level and aging on the formation of wrinkles: a comprehensive and objective approach. Skin Res Technol, 19: e349-e355.

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