What, exactly, is hydration and is it the same as moisture?
The Basic – Hydration is the absorption of moisture from the air and then infusing your cells with water to improve your skin’s ability to absorb moisture and nutrients. Moisturizing is about trapping and locking in the moisture to build your skin’s natural protective barrier.
With so many different products claiming to give you the hydrated skin you need. How do you choose one that actually gives your skin the potent dose of moisture it needs?
Hydrator and moisturizer are marketing terms and can be defined by the brands. There’s no gold standard for what defines a hydrator and a moisturizer, for the most part, brands use these terms to differentiate how your skin gets the moisture it needs.
Water plays a central role in making sure your skin stays healthy, smooth, and radiant. What many of us may not realize is that although they are often used interchangeably, moisturizing and hydration are not exactly the same thing. While both are key in providing skin with much-needed nourishment, knowing the difference will help you make the best choice when targeting your skin’s specific needs.
Difference Between Hydrating and Moisturizing
Moisturizers and hydrators both address the importance of making sure the skin is getting all the water it needs to fight dryness and dehydration, premature signs of aging and environmental damage. The difference, however, lies mostly in how they go about achieving these results.
Hydration refers to the water content within the cells that leads them to swell and be plump and bouncy, thus reflecting light well. If water flows out of the cells and the cells are dehydrated, they can become shriveled, which leads to lackluster skin. This means that when you are using a topical hydrator, you are infusing your cells with water and improving your skin’s ability to absorb moisture and nutrients. On the other hand, moisturizing is about trapping and sealing in moisture to build the skin’s protective barrier, prevent water loss and keep the skin soft and smooth.
How to Know If You Need a Hydrator, Moisturizer or Both
If your skin tends to be on the dry side, it is easy to assume that a healthy dose of moisturizer is all it takes to restore its plump appearance and youthful glow. While this may be true at times, it is also possible that your skin may not, in fact, be dry but dehydrated. And if the latter is true, then a hydrator is what you need to get the job done.
Which is best for your skin type?
There are a ton of different products on the market, from balms to oils to creams, gels to ointments to hydrators — but the truth is, most of them do the same thing. Most skin lotions and products will contain both occlusive and emollient ingredients and humectant ingredients — so they moisturize and hydrate at the same time. The form that a product takes, gel, balm, oil, cream, etc., does not really affect the performance of the product. It is the ingredients that matter. The form just affects the experience of applying the ingredients. That being said, read the ingredients and experiment. Sometimes your skin might do better with only a moisturizer or hydrator, not both. By learning exactly how your skin likes to drink, you maximize your way to hydrated skin.
So, What is the next step?
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