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What Is the Difference Between Hydrating & Moisturizing?

By now, we all know just how important it is to take care of our skin. As the largest organ in our body, our skin needs plenty of water in order to look and feel its best. To fully replenish our skin, we tend to turn to products that promise to both nourish and hydrate.

The reality is though, many of us have believed that hydrating and moisturizing your skin mean the same thing but there’s a difference. To help make it easier for you, we’re breaking it down so you can give your skin the attention it deserves and better understand skincare terminology.

Hydrating vs. Moisturizing

What makes a moisturizer and a hydrator different is what action or actions are being addressed. The first thing you need to know is that hydrators, otherwise known as humectants, put moisture back into your skin. They’re ideal for fighting dehydration, preventing signs of aging, and protecting your skin from the damaging effects of the environment. Moisturizing is about keeping the skin moist and comfortable.  This can mean increasing its water content, increasing its lipid content, or both actions. Moisturizing the skin will also assist in preventing signs of aging and protect against environmental damage. Dryness and/or dehydration can also be addressed.

Our skin is pretty impressive and does a lot of work to maintain itself, but we can help it function more efficiently by choosing the right ingredients in our skincare products. Humectants increase water content by attracting and binding water from the air and delivering it to the layers of your skin. Nourishing ingredients or oils help restore the skin’s natural lipid content and help prevent water loss. Healthy skin needs both water and oil to be balanced and have proper barrier function.

What Does Your Skin Need?

Take a look in the mirror and study the appearance of your skin after cleansing. Notice how it feels and what it looks like. Does your skin look dull overall? Are you noticing dry, flaky patches? All of this is important in determining what your skin needs.

If your skin is dry and has seemingly lost its own natural oils, you’ll likely notice flaky skin. You want to restore them by regularly using a moisturizer designed to replenish lipids in the skin. A balanced formula will also include humectants to hydrate. Look for ingredients like shea butter, avocado oil, and Inca Inchi oil to nourish and replenish.

Alternatively, if your skin is looking and feeling dehydrated, you’ll need to add water through the use of a humecants. Without a hydrator in your regime, your skin can wind up looking dull and feeling tight, which is never a good thing. Plus, any skin type can be dehydrated and will benefit from hydration. It’s helpful to also include nourishing ingredients to address water loss. To combat dehydration, look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and PCA in your moisturizer.

Keeping Your Skin Balanced

While the right skincare products that both hydrate and nourish are essential to keeping our skin looking and feeling healthy, it’s also important to drink plenty of water. Drinking water is a beneficial way to hydrate your skin, as well as your other organs. When you incorporate enough water consumption, plus a healthy diet this can help you achieve the balanced, dewy, skin everyone wants.

Rachel Moffett
Rachel Moffett

Rachel is the blogger behind the lifestyle site, The Haute Notes. She has been blogging since 2009 and loves to use her passion for writing to share fashion advice, beauty tips, and glittery DIYs. Her site aims to help women live fabulous lives, no matter what their budget may be. When she’s not blogging, you will likely find her reading for her book club or having movie marathons with friends.

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