The Difference Between “Hydrating” and “Moisturizing”

When browsing the skincare aisle at any store, you’ll often see the words “hydrating” and “moisturizing” on many products. The two, in fact, are NOT one and the same.

While it’s easy to think that these two words mean the same thing and can be used interchangeably, they each mean something different and serve different purposes when it comes to your skin.

Hydrating means that this product contains less than 5% lipid ingredients. It usually uses glycerin or polymers that have hydrophilic side and lipophilic to attach on the skin and catch the water meanwhile. But it doesn’t not have full lipid to seal and protect the skin. This kind of products look clear and like gel or jelly, ie. serums, gels, toners…etc.

On the other hand, Moisturizing products contain at most 25% of lipid. Moisturizers can provide certain lipid to protect your skin. The lipid only stays atop the skin, instead of being absorbed by the skin, to form a transparent layer to prevent water loss. At the same time, the hydration permeates into skin. The products tangibly look white or creamy.

Your skin is the largest organ on your body. It holds in all of our bodily fluids, which prevents dehydration.  It’s vital to keep our skin nourished and to make sure it has all the tools it needs to fight any damage caused by dryness, skin conditions, or environmental damage.

Dry skin affects males and females equally and is a very common issue in older people, who are prone to having dry skin.  That’s because, as we age, our skin tends to produce diminished amounts of natural skin oils and lubricants. The lack of water vapor in the surrounding air (humidity) is another cause of dry skin.

So, when do moisturizers work best? When should you opt for a hydrator?

Hydrators vs. Moisturizers

Both moisturizers and hydrators work to ensure that our skin receives moisture. The natural lipid barrier of our skin protects itself from damage and loss of water, but if you’re someone who suffers from dry, flaky skin, then you may need some extra reinforcements – enter moisturizers.

Dry skin means your skin isn’t producing enough lipid cells on its own, so moisturizers can help lock in moisture.

Hydrators, on the other hand, usually contain humectants. These work to catch moisture from the air and saturate it through the layers of your skin.

So what’s the difference boil down to? Basically, dehydrated skin needs hydration. Dry skin needs oil and moisturization. Identifying the difference is crucial in treating the exact issue.

Dry Skin vs. Dehydrated Skin

So, hydrators alleviate dehydrated skin, and moisturizers help the effects of dry skin.

Dry skin is classified as a skin type, which means a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors has contributed to your skin’s inadequate production of natural oils.

Dry skin can flake, itchy, and cause an overall dull, rough, or lackluster appearance. Dehydrated skin, on the other hand, is caused by a lack of water.  Not oil, like dry skin. So, yes, this means even oily skin types can suffer from dehydration.

When the water content of your skin is depleted, the results become visible in your skin, leaving it less elastic and supple.

Research indicates that 75 percent of the American population falls short of the daily 8-10 cups of water that are recommended. In other words, a majority of people in the United States are functioning in a state of dehydration.

What You Can Do?

We can’t always control the environment we are exposed to, so it’s important to know what matters we can take into our own hands to improve the quality of dry or dehydrated skin.

First, and we talk about this all of the time, drinking plenty of water is an absolute must. No matter your skin type or condition, nothing bad can come from drinking the right amount of water.

If you feel that your skin is dehydrated, choose a hydrator with hyaluronic acid, a natural substance that helps keep your skin hydrated and youthful-looking. It works to keep your skin stable, protected, and regenerated while holding in a substantial amount of moisture.

When it comes to moisturizers, look for creams that contain natural oils, fruit extracts (Vitamin C is a great one), cocoa butter or even beeswax to help your skin lock in and retain moisture.

A natural humectant ingredient like honey or aloe will nourish your skin while moisturizing it. Natural oils will help fight signs of aging, too. Eating nutrient-rich fruits and water-based can also help hydrate your skin.

Sun-exposed skin can easily lose moisture and make your skin appear dry, flaky, and even more wrinkled. That’s why our mantra of wearing 30 SPF or higher sunscreen every day is imperative.

There’s also nothing wrong with using both a hydrator and a moisturizer together! Just be sure to apply any hydrating products first, and a moisturizer second.

This routine will help ensure that you’re adding the necessary hydration and moisture to the skin while locking it in all day.