What’s the Difference Between Moisturizing and Hydrating Anyway?

Posted By Raw Sugar on June 13, 2019

Hydrating and moisturizing, they’re two in the same, no?


No. No no no no no. There’s a difference.


We hate to be dramatic, but assuming hydration and moisture are the same thing is a big skincare booboo – albeit a very common one. While both properties are vital in giving skin much-needed nourishment, knowing the difference will help you know which to choose when targeting your skin’s specific needs.


So if the two are, in fact, different – what is the distinction between the moisturizing and hydrating descriptors you see on products while walking down the beauty aisle?


For starters, each serves its own unique purpose for your skin. Hydrators work to alleviate dehydrated skin, while moisturizers help the effects of dry skin. What they both do is make sure the skin is getting all the water it needs to take on dryness and dehydration, premature aging and environmental damage. But the difference is in how they go about the process.


Moisturizers: For skin that needs a little help, moisturizers work to lock in moisture and eliminate dryness. Our skin has a natural lipid barrier which defends it from damage and water loss. If you notice your skin feels dry or flaky, then it might not be producing enough lipid cells on its own. Enter moisturizer.


Hydrators: Hydrators are usually made up of humectants, whose job is to catch moisture that’s in the air and feed it through the layers of your skin. A humectant can attract water from its surroundings through absorption – they take it from the air and absorb it into the skin, promoting hydration. So if skin is dehydrated, it needs hydration. Dry skin of the other hand, needs moisturization.


How to identify which one you need???


This is basically about identifying whether your skin is dehydrated or dry – or both.


Signs of dry skin are easy to spot. It may feel rough, scaly or flaky – and if this is the case, a good pump of moisturizer (on the regular) goes a long way in restoring smoothness and plumpness.


On the other hand, if what you’re dealing with is a generally dull complexion, fine lines, and premature wrinkles – your skin is probably dehydrated. This means its cells are thirsty, so they tend to shrivel up – just like a raisin does in the sun. In this case, a hydrator is key in restoring water levels in the skin.


The two aren’t mutually exclusive. Sometimes your skin is suffering from both lack of moisture and hydration – in which case, both moisturizers and hydrators can be used together in an effective way.


And remember, no matter what, drinking lots of water is a non-negotiable when it comes to well-hydrated, radiant, glowing skin.

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