Water plays an integral role in regards to your overall health. It’s the beverage of life that helps to keep your skin healthy, smooth, and radiant, yet so many people don’t drink enough of it. For this reason, it makes sense that every skin care aisle contains products that promise to hydrate and moisturize the skin. Although people use these terms interchangeably, they are not one and the same. Both hydrators and moisturizers work to nourish the skin, but knowing the difference can help you determine which is right for your skin.
What’s The Difference Between Hydrating And Moisturizing?
Moisturizer is an umbrella term for the following types of moisturizers: emollients (fats and oils, occlusives, and squalene (oil). The terminology gets a bit of a makeover when it comes to beauty products, though. In fact, a 2017 study found that there was some gray area when it came to distinguishing hydrators from moisturizers. Moisturizing is all about trapping moisture and sealing it into the skin in order to form a protective barrier. This helps prevent water loss and keeps the skin as soft and smooth as possible. Moisturizes are oil-based ingredients, which is how they prevent water from escaping the skin.
Hydration refers to the water content within the cells that makes them plump and bouncy, making them reflect light well. If your skin cells are dehydrated, they shrivel up and your skin can look dull. If you use a topical hydrator, though, you work to infuse your skin cells with water and improve your skin’s ability to absorb nutrients and moisture. Humectants, for example, are great hydrators because they increase the skin’s hydration by attracting water molecules from the environment to your skin. Additionally, humectants draw moisture levels from deeper layers of the skin, bringing them from the dermis to the epidermis.
Which Is Best For Your Skin?
With so many creams, lotions, balms, ointments, moisturizers, and hydrators to choose from, how do you know which one is best for your skin? The truth is, most of them do the same exact thing. Most skin lotions contain both occlusive, emollient, and humectant ingredients, so they moisturize and hydrate at the same time. Whether the product comes in gel, balm, oil, or cream form doesn’t affect how it performs. The form merely affects the experience of applying the product to your skin.
For Dry Skin
If you have dry skin, a thicker moisturizer will help restore your skin to its natural plump state. This isn’t always true because your skin may not be dry; rather, it may be dehydrated, in which case a hydrator is necessary. If you want to know whether or not your skin is dehydrated, you have to pay attention to your skin’s condition. The skin has a natural lipid barrier that protects itself from environmental damage and water loss. Dry, flaky skin is an indication that it doesn’t produce enough lipid cells to form that protective barrier. That’s why a moisturizer may come in handy if you suffer from dry skin.
For Oily Skin
It’s important to note that oily skin can still be dehydrated. In fact, dehydrated skin can increase oiliness and the issues that come with it. Oily skin typically indicates that the skin barrier is compromised, which makes it more difficult for the skin to retain moisture. Moisture escapes the skin and it becomes dehydrated, and produces more oil as a result. The only way to break this cycle is to give your skin the proper hydration that it needs. Look for water-based, non-comedogenic hydrators and moisturizers because water-based products don’t clog your pores and feel lighter on the skin.
For Dehydrated Skin
The only way to fix dehydrated skin is to rehydrate it. That means that you have to actively add water back into your skin, and the best way to do that is by applying a hydrating serum that contains hyaluronic acid. This ingredient retains 1,000 times its weight in water, so it helps to plump up those skin cells to get your skin looking youthful and refreshed again. Aloe vera and honey are also great ingredients to look out for. Above all else, drink plenty of water and eat water-rich foods if you want to hydrate the skin.