hydrating vs moisturizing difference

Raise your hand if you use the words hydrating and moisturizing interchangeably, as if they were synonyms?

*Raises hand high*

Yep, I do this all the time, too. We all do.

But should we?

Mmm, hydrating and moisturizing are often treated like they are the same thing, but they’re not.

Hydrating is all about infusing skin with moisture. Moisturizing is about locking that moisture behind bars and making it stay there.

Let me explain:

dr dennis gross hyaluronic marine oil free moisture cushion

Hydrating adds moisture to the skin

If there’s one thing that Korean skincare has taught us is that hydration makes all the difference when it comes to healthy and glowy skin.

The more hydrated your skin is, the happier it is. Hydrating skin looks plumper. The plumpness smooths out fine lines and wrinkles, so you look younger.

Hydrating skin gives skin a natural radiant glow. And makes every skin cell in your body work at its best.

Hydrating facial products infuse skin with a waterfall of moisture, replenishing all the water it has lost and adding in some more for good measure.

How? Humectants. A fancy word to describe ingredients that can attract moisture from the environment into the skin. Like glycerin. Or hyaluronic acid. Or sodium hyaluronate.

Best picks:

Shop Hyaluronic Acid Serums

avene hydrance rich hydrating cream

Moisturizing locks moisture into the skin

Hydration is a like a glass of water for your skin. But it doesn’t matter how many glasses of water your skin drinks every day. If there’s nothing keeping this water in, it’ll evaporate into thin air, leaving your skin as dry as the Sarah.

Our skin already has a shield that keeps moisture trapped into the skin. But this shield is fragile. Too much sun, not enough sebum, harsh winds, and even irritating skincare products create holes that let moisture slip away.

Enter moisturizing. Moisturizing forms a barrier on the skin that locks water in so it can’t run away anymore.

Usually, it’s oils that do this. Olive oil. Argan oil. Jojoba Oil. Mineral oil. And shea butter. Silicones too. I could go on and on but I don’t want to bore you.

Instead, I’ll just tell you what the best moisturizers (FYI, a moisturizer is anything that creates a moisture-trapping barrier on the skin) are below.
Best Picks:

Shop Moisturisers

Hydrating adds water into the skin. Moisturizing locks it in. Your skin needs both.Click to Tweet

Our skin needs both hydrating and moisturizing

But does that mean we should use two separate products, one for hydrating and one for moisturizing?

Most of the time, not. Most creams out there contain both humectants and occlusive emollients (that stuff that creates a barrier on the skin), so you can just get one of those and be done with it.

When it’s better to use two products

Ok, so you can use just the one. But, sometimes, that’s not enough.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know that I’ve been nagging for months now about the winter London weather. It sucks all the moisture out of my skin and makes it flake real bad.

I usually use a cream with both hydrating and moisturizing ingredients, but that alone is not enough to save my skin in winter.

When the temperatures start to chill, I now have to bring in the big guns. That means adding a separate hyaluronic acid serum to my skincare routine (usually, one of the two mentioned above). Makes your skin all plump and soft in just a few days. That’s the power of hydration.

So, if your skin is dry, you’d want to consider using two separate products. At least in winter (I skipped the HA serum in the summer and my skin was alright).

By the way, if your skin wants you to use two products, apply the hydrating one first. Remember, hydrating adds moisture to the skin, mosturizing locks it in. So, it wouldn’t make sense to do the opposite.

The Bottom Line

Your skin needs moisture. And it needs that moisture to stay in. So, hydrating and moisturizing aren’t optional. Luckily, we don’t need to break the bank to take proper care of our skin. Plenty of creams do both these days.

Do you hydrate and moisturize your skin at the same time or do you need to go the extra mile and add a hydrating serum to your skincare routine? Share your thoughts in the comments below.