Hydration vs. moisturization is one of the hottest skincare battles around— terms that are often used interchangeably in the industry and by clients. While you may find they don’t think they need both, the truth is they are not one in the same. Simply put, products that hydrate (e.g. serums and gels) add water, while products that moisturize (e.g. lotions, creams, and facial oils) seal in the moisture and help the skin retain water or help prevent trans-epidermal water loss. Well, when it comes to the skin, both are crucial when it comes to healthy skin and protecting the skin’s barrier. The truth is no matter what your skin type, your skin is thirsty for both. So, if you are ready to become an expert in understanding the difference between hydration and moisturization, read on for all the details.
Hydration = Infusing water or moisture into the skin
Since hydration is the amount of water in the skin, dehydrated skin is lacking in water and needs a product that will deliver water to the skin’s layers. Some of the causes of dehydrated skin? Skin type, climate, hormones, diet, and water consumption. The temperature and environment such as wind, sun, pollution and more can have a direct effect on the skin’s hydration levels. In very cold or dry hot climates, for example, the skin loses water more quickly, because of low humidity levels in the air, leading to dehydrated skin. That’s why you need to replenish lost moisture by using hydrators in your skincare routine—ingredients like humectants that help bring water to the skin. If you live in a low humidity environment, try this tip: apply your HA serum to damp skin so it has a base to work with and follow it up with a moisturizer to seal it in. You can still follow this tip if you have oily skin, but apply to dry skin since your skin can naturally lock in moisture. Live in humid, tropical climates? Still hydrate the skin, but you might not also need to moisturize.
One of the best skincare hydrators is hyaluronic acid. It’s a major structural component of our skin, and this jelly-like lubricant cushions our joints and plays a pivotal role in repair after an injury has occurred in the body. Native HA (in our bodies) can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water and is responsible for giving skin its plumpness and volume. When used on the skin, it will protect and hydrate. Advanced formulas can maintain 5,000 times its weight in water to give your skin a smoother, more supple appearance. Ideal for any skin type and every environment, a hyaluronic acid serum with antioxidants will also help support healthy collagen and elastin and can protect the skin from free radicals and environmental pollutants. It’s the tall drink of water your skin is craving.
Moisture = Oil moisturization = occluding the skin to help prevent moisture loss
Moisturizers are on double duty when it comes to healthy skin. Many moisturizers contain oils that soften, condition, protect and help seal in moisture on the surface of the skin while preventing hydrators from evaporating. Moisturizers hold water in the outer layer of the skin using ingredients such as shea butter, sunflower butter, and vitamin E—many of which mimic oils the skin naturally produces. Using the right amount of moisturizers can help the skin maintain its balance, and keep skin issues such as acne and fine lines and wrinkles in check.
Moisturizers can benefit all skin types and conditions including acne, mature skin, and sensitive skin. The key is to select the right formula that will condition and restore the skin. A moisturizer should always be used as part of a morning and nighttime skincare routine. In the morning it’s applied just before sunscreen, while at night apply after an essential oil to help stimulate regeneration.