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What’s the Difference between Moisturizing and Hydrating?

Winter is one of the driest seasons. Colder outside temperatures mean there is less moisture in the air, and ambient humidity is all but nonexistent inside heated buildings. That means your skin may be dehydrated, dry or both.

Didn’t know there was a difference? You’re not alone. To know whether your skin needs hydrating or moisturizing—and what products to achieve your skincare goals—you need to understand the difference.

Dry vs. Dehydrated Skin

Healthy, radiant skin needs sufficient moisture. It needs enough water to keep cells hydrated, and it can only retain enough water if that hydration is protected against evaporation by an oil barrier.

  • Skin that does not have enough water content is dehydrated—it needs hydrating.
  • Skin that cannot retain moisture is dry—it needs moisturizing.

How to Achieve Hydration and Moisturize

Let’s start with the deeper problem—dehydration. To hydrate your skin, you need to ensure that your cells have adequate stores of water, which you can do:

  • Internally by drinking enough water.
    Recommendations for just how much is “enough” vary, but a good rule of thumb is your body weight (in pounds) ¸ 20 = number of glasses of water you should drink per day.
  • Topically by applying a product with hyaluronic acid.
    • Hyaluronic acid retains about 1,000 times its own weight in water. Because you should apply skincare products in the order of lightest to heaviest, a serum with hyaluronic acid, like our

Dermist M3HA

    , is the best option since it goes on first, allowing maximum absorption.

With water stores replenished, you now need to moisturize to protect them. Water space protection requires oil. That’s no problem for people with dry and sensitive skin who do well with a heavier cream, like our ORAC Lifting Complex or Facelift Cream.

However, people with oily and acne-prone skin types are often misled into thinking that any oil is bad for their skin, so they need a completely oil-free product. But an oil-free moisturizer is simply not effective. What these skin types need is a water-based moisturizer with non-comedogenic, plant-derived oils that will provide a breathable oil barrier without increasing oil and breakout control challenges, like our Soft Finishing Moisturizer.

When selecting products, keep in mind: it is possible to have hydrated dry skin, but it is rare to have dry skin that is not already dehydrated. So, everyone needs moisturizing. Not everyone needs hydrating, but hydrating strategies will never hurt your skin, so drink up and incorporate hyaluronic acid into your daily skincare regimen.

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