Hydration vs. Moisture

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As an esthetician, it is my duty to not only care for the skin of my clients, but also the skin of my friends and loved ones. Unfortunately, one of my best friends is hopeless when it comes to choosing the right skincare products.  She would come home from the store after spending an entire paycheck on creams and serums that promised her the moon.  Frustrated (and broke), she would hand me the bag and ask, “How did I do?”  Usually, I would pick out one or two, and we would have a little skincare lesson.  Though she has come a long way over the years, one of the most difficult concepts for her to grasp was the difference between hydration and moisture.


First, remember that your skin is an organ. What you eat and drink can affect it. In the summer months, we need to work a little harder to keep our bodies and skin hydrated, as the sun and heat give us an even greater challenge. We are more active and sweat more often, so we need to be sure we get enough water (and the right kind of water). Don’t cheat on this. This doesn’t mean the water you use to make your coffee. Drink about 2-3 liters of pure, clean drinking water daily. This is a good starting point and essential for our overall health as well as our skin.  Tip:  Different body sizes require different volumes of water. One good rule is to divide your weight by 20. This will be the number of glasses of water that you should drink every day.

Now here’s the tricky truth.  While not drinking water would definitely worsen a dehydrated skin condition, to fix your skin’s current state, your best option is something more topical. When we drink or eat something, that substance must undergo all of your body’s other processes before actually arriving at your skin’s surface. Thus, the impact of your drinking water over time Is helpful, but not significant enough to immediately repair pre-existing damage.


Have you ever felt like your skin needs a drink of water? This may be true! With the vast variety of skincare products on the market today, as a consumer, it can be difficult to figure out what each one contains and why it works. Specifically, one of the most confusing topics is the difference between hydration and moisture.  Dehydrated skin lacks water and therefore needs to be hydrated.  Dry skin lacks oil and needs to be moisturized.  It is important to distinguish between these two skin conditions because they can often be treated incorrectly.

Think of it like this:

While hydration is what makes our skin soft, it won’t stay that way if there is no oil protecting that hydration from evaporating and abandoning the skin, which would leave it dry and flaky.  Conversely, to put oil on top of already dehydrated skin may smooth it, but it will still lack the hydration that makes it feel soft and elastic.

Dehydrated skin that is moisturized without receiving the amount of hydration will still look dull and feel uncomfortably tight.  Dry skin that is hydrated but not moisturized will still flake and have a rough texture.


Now that you understand the difference between hydration and moisturization, how do you find the best product?  Both hydrating and moisturizing products can come in many shapes, sizes, colors, and consistencies.  There are also to find a products that both hydrate and moisturize.  The most important thing to do is read the label

  • Hydrating ProductsWhen it comes to an ingredient that is hydrating, hyaluronic acid is by far the gold standard.  This little molecule packs a punch by holding a thousand times its weight in water.  It is actually found naturally in the human body, but just like collagen, our skin’s supply depletes as we age.  When this happens our skin thins, appears dull, and healthy skin cells move much more sluggishly to the surface.  Our skin needs to be hydrated not only to look good but also to function optimally.




  • Moisturizing Products – Here’s one of the most common and misguided habits that we: only using oil free products. Simply stated, people have started automatically associating oil to breakouts. Even people with uncomfortably dry skin (who need desperately to supplement their skin’s natural oil content) believe the myth that putting anything but an oil-free moisturizer on their skin will cause acne.  This is not the case.  Not only can overdrying and a lack of oil content in the skin induce breakouts, but dry skin will also age faster.  Overdrying and stripping the skin of any oil, without replacing it, can cause your skin to respond by producing excess oil.  This reaction can overwhelm the pores and cause congestion/breakouts.  Also, skin heals faster and most efficiently in a moist environment.







To maximize the effectiveness of your hydrating and moisturizing products are sure to apply them properly. Typically when applying all skincare products, you want to apply them thinnest consistency to thickest consistency. If you have two products of equal thickness, apply in order of lightest in color to darkest (with a clear color being lightest.) Apply serums and moisturizers to your face immediately following toweled drying your face, while it is still slightly damp.



Are you prone to acne or chronic skin conditions such as eczema or rosacea?  Those with chronic conditions should be careful with the products that they select. Certain ingredients can exacerbate their skin’s condition. However, problematic skin still needs both hydration and moisture.  Schedule a one-on-one consultation with a licensed esthetician.  Estheticians who work directly under the guidance of physicians are accustomed to dealing with a wide range of sensitive cases.  Working with one of these estheticians to help you select appropriate products and create a professionally prescribed day and night regimen will help launch your plan to rehabilitate and protect your skin.


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