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What Is the Difference Between Skin Moisturization and Hydration?

Performance Marketer at Skin Beauty Pal App, An AI-based Skincare & Dermatology App

Because you cannot just add water to the skin directly, it is important that your skincare regime has products that aid in moisturizing and hydrating the skin. While there is a range of such products available in the market, it is important to know that both moisturizing and hydrating the skin are two different things. Although the terms are used interchangeably, they actually have a vast difference in their meaning.

Moisturizing the skin or hydrating the skin may be directed towards the same goal, it is important that you know the difference between the two. This will help you know how to rectify your skincare game and ensure healthy and radiant skin.


Moisturizing Vs. Hydrating

Hydration: It is the process of absorbing the moisture from the air which further infuses the skin cells with water and boosts the skin’s ability to absorb moisture and nutrients. The skin cells after receiving enough water swell up and appear bouncy. This gives them the ability to reflect light and the skin looks flawless.


It is a process through which the skin traps and locks the water inside the skin and builds a protective barrier. This barrier prevents water loss and maintains soft and smooth skin.

So, how do the two differ?

Both hydrators and moisturizers ensure that the skin has enough water available to remain healthy, and supple. The right water content on the skin enables it to fight dryness, dehydration, premature signs of aging, and damage from environmental factors. The objective remains the same but the approach of hydration and moisturizing to protect the skin is different and here is how:

When you have hydrated skin, it feels soft and supple. On the other hand, dry skin with no oil is a sign that the skin lacks hydration. Hydration is a natural process that can be promoted. It is the skin’s natural ability to absorb water from the environment. However, from time to time this ability needs a push through various hydration products available in the market.

When the skin has enough water, it’s the process of moisturizing that ensures water retention. This means that moisturizing works against the natural tendency of hydration to escape and ensures that the soft, supple and healthy look of well-hydrated skin is well maintained.

Both hydration and moisturizing go hand in hand and working on one without the other won’t prove helpful.

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If you are working on the moisturizing needs of your skins, it is important to know what the best moisturizing agents are. Some of the best moisturizing products in the market have Ceramides, dimethicone (a silicone-based smoothing agent), shea butter, and coconut oil as the key ingredient. Each of these agents has a distinctive role. While ceramides decrease skin dryness and irritation, silicones soften the skin and reduce friction.


You need to look for ingredients that help in putting water directly to the skin cells. Some such ingredients include hyaluronic acid, propylene glycol, alpha hydroxy acids, urea, or glycerin (also labeled as glycerol), and aloe. These ingredients are called humectants and pull the moisture from the deep skin tissues and ensuring that it is stored in the uppermost layer.


How to know you need a hydrator, a moisturizer, or both?

Well, this is one question that needs the best answer. First of all, you need to know what type of skin you have, if your skin is dry or you can experience skin type that easily dries off, becomes flaky and lack of moisture, you must know that your skin moisture barrier is faulty. Again, you need to work on your moisturizing techniques and choose the right product. The right moisturizer would help you maintain the plump and bouncy appearance of the skin. You need to use moisturizers more during the winter season when the skin tends to get dry more often.

Contrary to this, if you experience that your skin has become dull and the signs of ageing are more visible than before, you must know that the skin is losing hydration. This is when you need to use a hydrator to help your skin stay nourished and maintain a healthy look.

What is the right HYDRATOR OR MOISTURIZER for your skin?

While you should always rely on water intake to ensure optimal skin hydration, it is also important to treat the skin externally. When doing so, you must reach out to products that are powerful don’t forget to take professional advice as a dermatologist can best tell you what is right and wrong for your skin type.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Pooja Singla

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