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Moisture vs. Hydration – What's The Difference?

Hydration vs. Moisture


When it comes to the needs of our skin, nothing quite compares to how vital hydration can be. Not only drinking lots of water for a clearer complexion, but the moisture in our dermal layers, too.

This is where it can get tricky…. Lots of products claim to retain moisture, or hydrate your skin, but, is there a difference?

Is skin moisture different to skin hydration? 

Hydration vs. Moisture: What's the answer? 

When it comes to choosing your skincare products, anything with hydration or moisture-retaining capabilities will be good for you. If your skin is dry, it can lead to cracking, flaking and premature aging – none of which we want!

But, there is a slight difference between hydration and moisture, and once you crack that, you’ll be better equipped to choose the right products for you.

Many dermatologists believe that skin hydration refers to the water content of our skin, whereas skin moisture refers to the oil content. However, as with most skincare terminology, it can be subjective depending on the brand...

Moisture vs. Hydration: Get In The Know

Firstly, we need to remember that our skin is an organ – ever evolving, ever changing, ever growing. What we eat and drink can affect it, so keeping ourselves hydrated will ensure our skin stays hydrated. 2-3 liters a day is recommended for optimum health, but if your skin is especially dry, a topical moisturizer is needed.

Secondly, it depends on your desired skin goal. Hydration is what makes your skin soft, but it won’t stay that way if it’s lacking in oil. Oils in our skin, natural or from products, keep the skin from losing too much moisture from evaporation or sweat.

On the other hand, applying oil to dehydrated skin may smooth it temporarily, but deep down it will still lack the hydration it needs to remain supple and soft, and will eventually show fine lines and wrinkles.

Dehydrated skin that is moisturized but not hydrated will still feel tight and uncomfortable.  Dry skin that is hydrated but not moisturized will still flake and have a rough texture. So in an ideal world, you need to be doing both…

Moisture vs. Hydration: Always Read The Label

There are thousands of products out there that claim to moisturize or hydrate your skin, and even some that claim to do both… But, when choosing your skincare products, it can get a little confusing.

If you suffer from oily skin, does this mean you should avoid anything that ‘moisturizes’ as this adds oil? If you suffer from dry skin, should you only buy hydrating products?

No, no, no! The key is to read the label, and look at the ingredients. 

Hydrating –

Hyaluronic Acid is by far the most effective hydration ingredient. As a humectant (read more about these here), it’s designed to hold 1000 x its weight in water, and draw in moisture from the air and deeper layers of your skin to keep it hydrated. Our natural levels deplete with age, so adding these into your skincare routine will keep your complexion bright, supple and youthful.

Read more on hyaluronic acid and how it can benefit the skin here

Moisturizing –

The most common mistake we make when it comes to buying skincare products is opting for oil-free, thinking it will prevent breakouts and oily t-zones. In fact, oil-free products can over-dry the skin, induce breakouts and cause early aging.

Stripping your skin of its natural oils without replacing them can also cause your skin to respond by over-producing sebum: it's natural oil.

Hydration vs. Moisture: Our Recommendation… 

If you suffer from dry or dehydrated skin, we recommend opting for a product derived from natural ingredients, that works to not only retain moisture but also balance your oil levels.


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Rachel Cleverley

Part writer, part skin-care enthusiast, I can usually be found blogging away with the latest facemask or eye cream on! With specific interest in how our health and fitness can affect our beauty routine, and how science can boost regular, drugstore products.