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What’s The Difference Between Hydrating And Moisturizing?

When browsing the skincare aisle at any store, you’ll often see the words “hydrating” and “moisturizing” on many products.

The two are not, in fact, one in the same.

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While it’s easy to think that these two words mean the same thing and can be used interchangeably, they each mean something different and serve different purposes when it comes to your skin.

Your skin is the largest organ on your body.

It holds in all of our bodily fluids, which prevents dehydration.

It’s vital to the health of our skin and body to keep it nourished and to make sure it has all the tools it needs to fight any damage caused by dryness, skin conditions, or environmental damage.

Dry skin affects males and females equally¹, and is a very common issue in older individuals as they are prone to having dry skin.

As we age, our skin tends to produce diminished amounts of natural skin oils and lubricants. The amount of water vapor in the surrounding air, also known as humidity, is another cause of dry skin.

So, when do moisturizers work best? When should you opt for a hydrator? Let’s dive in.

Hydrators vs. Moisturizers

Both moisturizers and hydrators work to ensure that our skin receives moisture.

The natural lipid barrier of our skin protects itself from damage and loss of water, but if you’re someone who suffers from dry, flaky skin, then you may need some extra reinforcements - enter moisturizers.

Dry skin means your skin isn’t producing enough lipid cells on its own, so moisturizers can help lock in moisture.

Hydrators, on the other hand, usually contain humectants.

These work to catch moisture from the air and saturate it through the layers of your skin.

So what’s the difference boil down to?

Basically, dehydrated skin needs hydration.

Dry skin needs oil and moisturization.

Identifying the difference is crucial in treating the exact issue.


Dry Skin vs. Dehydrated Skin

So, hydrators alleviate dehydrated skin, and moisturizers help the effects of dry skin.

Dry skin is classified as a skin type, which means a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors has contributed to your skin’s inadequate production of natural oils.

Dry skin can flake, itchy, and cause an overall dull, rough, or lackluster appearance.

Dehydrated skin, on the other hand, is caused by a lack of water.

Not oil, like dry skin.

So, yes, this means even oily skin types can suffer from dehydration.

When the water content of your skin is depleted, the results become visible in your skin, leaving it less elastic and supple.

According to the Medical Daily², nearly 75 percent of the American population falls short of the daily 8-10 cups of water that are recommended.

This means that a majority of people in the United States are functioning in a state of dehydration.

So naturally, this has a dastardly effect on your body and skin.

What You Can Do

We can’t always control the environment we are exposed to, so it’s important to know what matters we can take into our own hands to improve the quality of dry or dehydrated skin.

First, drinking plenty of water is an absolute must.

No matter your skin type or condition, nothing bad can come from drinking the right amount of water.

Some interesting facts about water and our health³:

  • 60% of the human adult body is made up of water
  • The brain and heart are composed of 73% water
  • The lungs contain 83% water
  • The skin contains 64%

If you feel that your skin is dehydrated, I recommend choosing a hydrator with hyaluronic acid.

This is a vital, natural substance that helps keep your skin hydrated and youthful-looking.

It works to keep your skin stable, protected, and regenerated while holding in a substantial amount of moisture.

This keeps your skin lively, plump, and firm.

When it comes to moisturizers, I suggest creams that contain natural oils, fruit extracts (Vitamin C is a big one), shea or cocoa butter, or even beeswax to help your skin lock in and retain moisture.

A natural humectant like aloe or honey are winning ingredients that will nourish your skin while moisturizing it.

Natural oils will help fight signs of aging, too.

Aside from drinking water and choosing the right products, eating nutrient-rich, water-based fruits and vegetables can help hydrate your skin.

Make sure you’re using a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or 30 every day, too.

Sun-exposed skin can easily lose moisture and make your skin appear dry, flaky, and even more wrinkled.

There’s also nothing wrong with using both a moisturizer and a hydrator!

Just remember to apply any hydrating products first, and a moisturizer second.

This routine ensures that you’re adding the necessary hydration and moisture to the skin while locking it in all day.


Product Roundup

Alana Mitchell Daily Vitamin C Moisturizer

Perfect for a variety of skin types, especially Dry, Combo, and Sensitive Skin, Alana's Daily Vitamin C Moisturizer delivers hydrating, anti-aging, and rejuvenating results! This formula is a wonderful option for those with rosacea, eczema, and sensitive skin, and is artificial fragrance and paraben free.

Rhonda Allison Ultra Hydration Face Cream

The Rhonda Allison Ultra Hydration Cream provides very rich moisture for the skin for optimum hydration and health within the skin. This amazing cream helps bind humectants with the epidermis and works well as either a night or day cream. It is formulated with all natural ingredients such as the purest form of hyaluronic acid, which raises hydration within the skin by 300%. The cream is suitable for just about every skin type but is especially beneficial for dry, sensitive, and normal skin types.

GloTherapeutics Pure Hydration

A lightweight gel that boosts hydration through an infusion of water binding humectants. Provides a protective moisture reservoir that reduces the effects of dehydration, discourages transepidermal water loss and balances the moisture content.

Eminence Organics Strawberry Rhubarb Hyaluronic Facial Serum


A perfect combination of ingredients for summer! Eminence Organics Strawberry Rhubarb Hyaluronic Serum (1oz) is a powerful revitalizing serum that reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles in an all-natural, organic formulation. Powerful antioxidants are strengthened by Eminence's proprietary formulation, Biocomplex, which also supports the actions of coenzyme Q10, and other vital nutrients in the serum as well. These ingredients work synergistically to rejuvenate skin, giving it a healthy, youthful glow and silky, smooth feel.

Image Skincare SPF 30 Tinted Moisturizer

Image Skincare Prevention+ Daily Tinted Moisturizer SPF30 takes all the benefits of the untainted version and adds some color! This innovative moisturizer provides physical broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection against the harmful rays of the sun. Infused with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and emollients, Prevention+ Daily Tinted Moisturizer does it all.

Final Thoughts

The next time you’re browsing the skincare aisle for your favorite products, remember that “hydrating” and “moisturizing” aren’t just marketing buzzwords that are synonyms.

They each address different concerns but are both incredibly beneficial to the overall health of your skin.

Let us know how you hydrate and moisturize your skin in the comments!

1 http://www.medicinenet.com/dry_skin/article.htm

2 http://www.medicaldaily.com/75-americans-may-suffer-chronic-dehydration-according-doctors-247393

3 https://water.usgs.gov/edu/propertyyou.html


thanks for sharing the information with us

abhilasha Rathor @ 2022-04-01 1:16am

Thanks! :)

Alana Mitchell @ 2019-12-17 10:16am

excellent explanation.

Carlo Alberto Pallaoro @ 2019-11-01 8:48am

wow, I didn’t know there was a difference, will start using the correct terms from now on. thanks!

Tasha @ 2019-06-22 3:55am

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