Hydration vs Moisture, Dry vs Dehydrated

Hello Friends! Today I wanna talk about Hydration versus Moisture. Now, this is an issue that generates a lot of confusion for people, frustration for Estheticians, and can definitely have a HUGE impact on the health and look of your skin. The biggest problem here is- most skincare companies use the terms Hydration and Moisture interchangeably, when in fact they are two completely different things! Here I will be explaining the difference and the impact it can have on your skin.

Hydration = Water

Moisture = Oil

Hydration(water-binding ingredients) and Moisture(oil-ingredients) both have different actions on and within the skin. Both are necessary in specific amounts for specific skin types. So when a skincare companies uses the term Hydrating when really their ingredients are all oils/moisturizing(or vice versa), it can not only NOT give you the benefits your skin needs, it can be very confusing and frustrating! You may jump from product to product wondering why none of them ever seem to really get results, meanwhile your skin and wallet are both suffering! BUT after this article, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to be able to see and understand clearly which products are Hydrating and which are Moisturizing(or Both), by looking at the Ingredients listed on the product label- no matter what claims the company is making.

First, lets dig a little deeper into Hydration and Moisture and their impact on our skin. Our skin naturally produces both its own Hydration and Moisture, though as we get older its ability to produce Hydration decreases. Also certain peoples skin genetically produces less Hydration or Moisture, and any of the Skin Factors(Sleep, Hormones, Exercise, Diet/nutrition/supplements, Products/frequency of skincare routine, Exfoliation, Medications, Hydration, Climate & season changes, Pillow cleanliness, Environmental & Lifestyle Factors) can also impact these levels at any given time in our lives. When our skin produces less Hydration, it can often try to compensate by producing more oil- of course this doesn’t really help(dry acne, anyone??) but its all the skin can do, in an attempt to normalize the Hydration/Moisture balance. Or it can go the opposite direction, leaving the skin both Dehydrated AND Dry. Either way, this is where the proper knowledge of these key differences can save the day!

Dehydrated = Lacking Water

Dry = Lacking Oils

Unbalanced skin can be Dry, Dehydrated, or Both, leading to a whole bunch of uncomfortable and confidence-killing issues such as acne, sensitivity, redness, reactivity, compromised barrier, and even accelerated aging(YIKES!!) So now you see how having the proper levels of BOTH Hydration and Moisture is CRUCIAL to skin balance and having healthy, youthful skin. Now lets move on to Ingredients!

Here are some of the most-used Hydrating Ingredients in skincare products: hyaluronic acid, glycerin, aloe, sodium PCA, botanical hyaluronic acid, hydrosols(flower/plant waters, distillates, or hydrolats). There are more, but these are the most widely used that you should be able to easily find within the Ingredients List of any given product. As far as Moisturizing Ingredients, that includes pretty much any oil or butter(such as jojoba, squalane, cocoa butter, strawberry seed oil, etc)- HOWEVER Essential Oils listed closer to the bottom of any Ingredient List are used in such tiny amounts in order to be safe on skin that they will not provide much Moisture compared to Carrier Oils(such as grapeseed oil, olive oil, apricot oil, & many more) which will be listed closer to the top in the Ingredients List. Ingredients Lists go in order from the biggest percentage of ingredient used to the least used, so Ingredients listed closer to the top have more of that ingredient in that product, and ingredients at the bottom are in the smallest concentrations.

So how do you know whether your skin is Dry or Dehydrated(or Both)?

Dehydrated skin tends to have a crinkly, crepey look to it when viewed up close, and fine lines and wrinkles may seem to really pop out of nowhere. This is because hydration plumps up our skin, giving it a smoother less wrinkled appearance, so lack of hydration brings out every little line since there’s no plumped effect going on. It may also look “flat”, show more sagging, and can be very sensitive and reactive to products you use. This is because hydration plays a crucial role in the way our skin functions- in order to perform its functions, it NEEDS hydration, so lack of it impedes the skins crucial functions such as healing, regenerating, and sending messages between skin cells. Which is bad news for those suffering from skin dehydration, because not only are those lines and wrinkles popping out, the skin is also less able to “fix” them by producing more collagen and elastin! Its also why certain products(even hydrating ones!) can feel uncomfortably active or burn- because they aren’t able to work the way they’re meant to without hydration in the skin. It may also get milia(crystallized sebum/oil which look like tiny seeds stuck under the skin) or be congested with acne that lingers(because it can’t make its way to the surface, clear and heal up without the crucial Skin Functions that require Hydration). Basically, its not able to Function the way it’s meant to! From my years of experience as a Licensed Esthetician, I have seen that MANY clients have been suffering from Dehydrated Skin without ever realizing it. It’s the most common skin condition I treated!

Dry skin tends to feel, well, dry! There will be a distinct lack of oil on the skin, and it may feel rough to the touch or even show flaking. It also appears more visibly dull, and damage such as sun spots or scars may be more apparent, since it doesn’t have any oil creating “shine” to act as a natural highlighter & blur the appearance of blemishes and spots. This type of dryness cannot be simply exfoliated away, because the skins production of oil is less than what it needs to be. It requires finding & using the right Moisturizing Ingredients at the level that your skin needs. Different carrier oils and butters have different levels of richness- jojoba and grapeseed are lighter oils, olive oil and cocoa butter are richer, and so on.

“But Kaara, I drink lots of water!” may be what you’re saying to yourself right about now. Sadly, our skin is the last place that water gets to, and the first place it leaves, so even though you’re getting your 8 daily glasses, your skin may not be. And for some people(such as myself and many of my former spa clients I like to call my Mermaids), our skin just naturally tends to run on the dehydrated side- some people have naturally smaller Aquaporins(the water ducts in the skin), which means less water is able to go through at a time, and it takes more work to get the amount of Hydration the skin needs.

“But I use a facial oil every night!” is another common reaction I hear. Facial oils are great- but the skin needs a balance of both Hydration AND Moisture, and that balance is just a bit different for each individual. Anytime you use a facial oil, I recommend mixing it in with a hydrating mist- the Hydration from the mist will help distribute the oils & increase the skins functioning, while the oil will “seal in” that crucial Hydration!

So now that you KNOW the differences between Hydration and Moisture, how to tell whether your skin is Dry or Dehydrated or both, and the Ingredients that can help, how do you apply that info to bring your skin back into beautiful balance? By using the right products for your skin type! Hydrating or Moisturizing Ingredients can be found in any product type, but for the best results try adding in a Mist or Serum for Hydration, and the right level of Moisture for YOUR skin with your daily cream or facial oil to seal in all that juicy Hydration! At Well&Skin, we’ve made it easy to add Hydration to your skincare routine- literally ALL of our products contain Hydrating ingredients! And almost all of them(with the sole exception of Pomezyme Cleanser) also have Moisturizing ingredients at various levels. You can find them at! Because the Balance needed varies from person to person, it may take a little bit of trial and error to find that just-right “sweet spot” that your skin needs. But don’t give up, because getting that Balance is Key to good skin health- which will leave you looking and feeling your best!

What do you think, has this info helped you on your skincare journey? Feel free to SHARE this article with friends and family! And be sure to CHECK OUT my botanical-based clean skincare line at for multitasking products that will transform your skin! FOLLOW Well&Skin on social media & sign up for the Email List from the website for more PRO skincare advice, tips & info. Still have questions or need more specific guidance? REACH OUT to Well&Skin on Facebook or Insta. Be Well!

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