While hydrating and moisturizing are similar functions, they are often confused and are actually distinct methods for maintaining water levels in the skin. A healthy and youthful appearance is highly dependent upon good lifestyle and skincare habits. So what are the differences between hydrating and moisturizing the skin?
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Hydrating

Dehydrated skin simply means our skin is lacking water. Our skin’s water levels are mostly determined by what we eat and drink but can also be enhanced by quality skincare products. In general, consuming water throughout the day is important for our health. In terms of anti-aging, water aides in proper organ function which, in turn, aides in cellular turnover. Cell turnover is vital to rejuvenating the skin.

Choosing the right skincare product for a particular skin type can greatly assist in keeping skin hydrated. A product that works well for one may not be as effective for another, so consulting with a skincare professional can be very helpful and reduce trial and error. Hydration products typically use humectants and perform in the following ways:

  • Supports water-holding capacity in the skin
  • Helps skin stay soft and supple
  • Reduces the appearance of fine lines

If the epidermis doesn’t contain enough water our skin will lose elasticity, appear dull, be rough to the touch and feel tight. In other words, dehydration makes our skin look aged. Adequate hydration can go a long way in keeping us looking and feeling young. 

I personally struggle with oily skin, but that is not an indication of having overly-hydrated skin. Most skin types can benefit from hydration through an effective topical solution like hyaluronic acid (HA) which our bodies produce naturally and attracts water. One of my favorite products for this purpose is HA5 by SkinMedica. I use it morning and night along with my moisturizer. Another great choice would be Intense Defense Serum by Epionce.

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Moisturizing

Skin in need of moisturizing is actually lacking oil. While hydration is what makes our skin soft, it won’t stay that way if there is no oil protecting the water from evaporating. Conversely, to put oil on dehydrated skin may make feel smooth initially, it will still lack the necessary hydration. Just as collagen and elastin levels decrease with age, so does the natural hydration of our skin.

Moisturizers contain humectant ingredients that draw water molecules into the skin, while oil-based products contain emollient ingredients that merely treat the skin on a surface level. Lily Talakoub, MD

Dermatologist at McLean Dermatology and Skincare Center

Skin is a protective barrier for our bodies and using an occlusive moisturizer daily will help ensure it retains hydration in the following ways:

  • Maintains natural skin barrier lipids
  • Helps seal in water
  • Blocks environmental dehydrators

People with more oily skin, or problematic skin feel like they don’t need a lot of moisture, which could be true. For a moisturizer, I use Renewal Lite Facial Lotion by Epionce because I tend to produce a good amount of oil or “moisture” naturally. For those that require more moisture, a great choice would be Dermal Repair Cream by SkinMedica.

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To summarize, both hydration and moisture are important in maintaining healthy skin and it’s important to understand the differences. Perhaps a good analogy would be that hydrating is putting gas in your tank and moisturizing is putting on the gas tank cap. Of course, it’s always best to use high quality product to keep your car running smooth!Your trusted skincare professional is there to help you discover the best course and best products for your individual needs.

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