What exactly is hydration? Is it the same as moisture? And with so many different products claiming to give you the hydrated skin you crave — oils and creams and gels, oh my! — how do you choose one that actually gives your skin the potent dose of moisture it needs?

    Many see “hydration” and “moisture” as interchangeable words that describe the same thing, believing a skin hydrator is the same as a moisturizer. This is a common misconception and an easy mistake to make. In reality, these are two very different types of products specifically formulated to serve a different specific purpose for your skin. 

    Which is best for your skin type? 

    There are a ton of different products on the market, from balms to oils to creams, gels to ointments to hydrators — but the truth is, most of them do the same thing.

    Read the ingredients and experiment. Sometimes your skin might do better with only a moisturizer or hydrator, not both. By learning exactly how your skin likes to drink, you maximize your way to hydrated skin.

    So, do you need hydration, moisturization — or both?

    If you picked the third option, you're correct! Ideally, you hydrate a little, moisturize a little and should be good to go — but everyone's skin is unique, so finding the correct balance between both is important.

    If your skin still feels like it's missing something, here's how to tell if you need to boost your hydration, moisturization or the two together.

    • Is your skin dehydrated? If your skin tends to look thin and dull, or wrinkles and sagging skin are more noticeable than usual, chances are your skin is dehydrated.
    • Does your skin need moisture? If your skin feels rough and flaky, you might need to be a little more liberal with the moisturizer.
    • Are you dehydrated and lacking moisture? If all of those symptoms sound a little too familiar, your skin is trying to send a message — specifically, "I'm parched!" To rediscover your natural, healthy glow, step up both your hydration and moisturization efforts.

    Tips for hydrating vs moisturizing your skin

    A lot of skin hydration comes down to drinking water. That probably comes as no surprise! However, living with a water bottle attached to your hip is far from your only option.

    Another effective way to boost hydration is with the use of skincare ingredients known as humectants, which attract water and draw it into skin cells. Oats, for example, contain humectant properties that keep skin feeling soft and hydrated. In fact, raiding your pantry in search of hydration can give you a few possibilities to work with — honey and aloe also have their own natural humectant properties.

    To moisturize skin, seek out emollient ingredients. Emollients help diminish water loss and make skin feel smooth and soft. When choosing a moisturizer for your skin, it's important to know your skin type. Seed butters and waxes are heavier emollients best suited for extremely dry skin, while natural oils are a lighter option good for all skin types.

    So, drink up and give your skin some TLC with a good moisturizer twice per day. Flakiness and sagging, beware — this dynamic duo doesn't take dryness sitting down!

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