Are Hydrating and Moisturizing the Same Thing?
The beauty world can be a confusing place. Trust us, we get it. Between the new product innovations, science class-sounding ingredients and all of the terminology, it can be easy to get lost. What can make it even more confusing is the fact that some words seem to mean the same thing — or at least are used interchangeably when in reality they’re different. Two of the biggest culprits we’ve noticed falling into this category are the words “hydrate” and “moisturize.” To help clear things up, we checked in with board-certified dermatologist and Skincare.com expert Dhaval Bhanusali, M.D., to tell us the difference between hydrating and moisturizing your skin.
What’s the Difference Between Hydrating and Moisturizing?
According to Dr. Bhanusali, there is indeed a difference between moisturizing and hydrating your skin. Hydrating your skin refers to providing your skin with water to make it look plump and bouncy. Dehydrated skin is a skin condition that can make your skin look dull and lackluster. “Dehydrated skin indicates a lack of water and that your skin needs to be hydrated and retain water,” he says. One of the best ways to hydrate your skin is to make sure you’re drinking a lot of water throughout the day. In terms of topical products that can help with hydration, it’s best to look for formulas made with hyaluronic acid, says Dr. Bhanusali. Hyaluronic acid is a powerhouse for hydration because it has the ability to hold 1000 times its weight in water.
Moisturizing, on the other hand, is for dry skin that lacks natural oil production and also struggles to seal in water from hydrating products. Dryness is a skin type that can occur due to several factors such as age, climate, genetics or hormones. If your skin is dry, flakey, or rough and cracked in texture, you likely have dry skin. While it can be challenging to “fix” a dry skin type, there are some ingredients to look for that help seal in moisture, such as ceramides, glycerin and omega-fatty acids. Facial oils are also a great source of moisture. One of our favorites is the Youth to the People Superberry Hydrate + Glow Oil, which has both squalane oil and omega-fatty acids to revive dry skin.
How to Tell If Your Skin Needs Hydration, Moisture or Both
Determining whether your skin needs hydration or moisture requires first knowing whether your skin is dehydrated or dry. The two complexion concerns can have similar symptoms, but if you pay careful attention you can spot the difference. Dehydrated skin will feel parched and can even produce excess oil because your skin cells mistake it for dryness and try to overcompensate. Symptoms of dry skin are often flakiness, dullness, a rough and scaly texture, itchiness and/or a feeling of skin tightness. Keep in mind that it’s also possible for your skin to be dehydrated and dry. Once you’ve figured out what your skin needs, the solution is relatively easy: If you’re dehydrated, you need to hydrate, and if you’re dry, you need to moisturize.
Our Favorite L’Oréal Products to Hydrate Skin
L’Oréal Paris Hydra Genius Daily Liquid Care
Give your skin a boost of hydration with this lightweight formula made with hyaluronic acid and aloe water. After every use, your skin will feel ultra-hydrated, fresh, radiant and healthy-looking.
Kiehl’s Super Multi-Corrective Cream
Wouldn’t it be nice to tackle dehydration and signs of aging all at once? Thankfully, this anti-aging cream fits the bill. Not only does it contain hyaluronic acid, but it visibly lifts, firms and re-texturizes skin as well.
Vichy Aqualia Thermal Rich Cream
If you’ve ever noticed your skin is so dehydrated that it not only looks dull and less plump, but dehydration lines appear, this cream is for you. It acts as a fix by evenly spreading water throughout all areas of the face to rehydrate the areas that need it most.
Our Favorite L’Oréal Products to Moisturize Skin
Vichy Neovadiol Magistral Elixir
Oils are a great way to moisturize dry skin, and they don’t have to be sticky or greasy, either. In fact, this one won’t even leave skin looking shiny; it has a dry, satin finish. The replenishing facial oil concentrate nourishes skin with moisture for a total transformation.
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
This rich, non-greasy, fast-absorbing moisturizing cream is suitable for dry skin and sensitive skin types. It’s made with hydrating hyaluronic acid and essential ceramides to maintain and restore the skin’s moisture barrier for healthy-looking and moisturized skin.
Photography and Art Direction: Chaunte Vaughn