Hydrate vs. Moisturize - What's the Difference?

One of the best ways to improve your skin is to better understand hydration and moisturization. Some of the biggest issues we see at skoah is skin that has been dehydrated in an effort to improve blemishes or shininess, and skin that is not being treated for the appropriate skin condition or type. And these are really simple concepts to understand and even simpler concepts to treat in order to see immediate results.  

Hydrating the skin is not the same as moisturizing the skin. And all skin types require both. So let's break down the difference, better understand what our skin needs, and what products deliver the best results. 

Hydration level is a general condition of the skin. A condition is usually a temporary issue, or a changing situation, and not the same as a skin type. A condition can have a specific cause such as the environment or travel. Dehydration of the skin means your skin lacks water. Dry skin is a skin type (in a parallel way, oiliness is also a skin type). But all skin can feel dry at times. Dry skin means skin lacks in natural oils. All skin creates natural oils. But when the skin has less natural oil, it is considered to have a dry 'condition'. A dry skin type is not caused by something. It is a type of skin that may vary in symptoms over your lifetime. 

Hydrating your skin means you are adding water to the skin, which is absorbed into your skin cells. When skin is hydrated it plumps up and appears smoother, healthier and feels better. Moisturizing your skin means you are infusing oils into your skin and the goal is to lock these natural hydrators and oils into the skin to help protect it's natural barrier and prevent further water and oil loss. A great skin care program combines the right amount of each to create healthier skin and make it look its best. 



How do you know what you are dealing with? 

Dehydrated skin appears dull, can be flaky and at times look crepey (think fine, overlapping lines generally running diagonally across the cheeks and sometimes on the forehead.) Dehydrated skin can feel this way on and off. Dry skin feels tight and can have a slightly rough texture. Dry skin feels this way pretty immediately after washing your face until you add moisturizing products to the skin. Dry skin that is hydrated (you've added water-based products to it) will still flake and feel rough in texture.

It is important to add hydrating products to all skin types, and to do so BEFORE moisturizing. The hydrating (water-based) products will penetrate a little further into your skin due to their molecular size. Following this with moisturizing products (those containing lipids-oils or esters) will work on the outer layers of the skin and then lock in both the water and lipid-based ingredients. When I refer to the layers of the skin, I am referring to the epidermal layers only. And all skin has about 26-32 epidermal layers before meeting the dermal layer (called the dermis). After that layer is the subcutaneous tissue or hypodermis. This layer is constructed of fat and connective tissue. ALL cosmetic products work ONLY in the epidermal layers. This is where you want them to work. Products that are designed to penetrate into the dermis are classified as drugs and have a different molecular size and purpose. These require different regulations and a drug number (issued by Health Canada or the FDA). 

So how do you know what you need? If you feel the need to reapply moisturizer throughout the day, you are likely not adding enough hydration first. Add more hydration and then your moisturizer to see if this improves the time between re-application.  Whether skin is oily or dry, locking in the water in with a moisturizer will prevent the water you've added from evaporating. For oilier skin, you will benefit from products containing less oil (under 10% lipid to water ratio). For normal to combination skin, look for 10-35% lipid to water ratios, and for dry skin, 25-100% lipid to water ratios. You can find this ratio out by asking anyone at skoah. 


Can you over hydrate and over-moisturize? YES! 

If you are using a water-based product and as you massage it into your skin you notice it balls up, then metaphorically-your cup is full. Said another way, once the right amount of water is added through a hydrating product, your skin cannot absorb more. And it essentially overflows, leaving little balls of hydrating ingredients. So, use less. If your skin feels greasy or appears overly shiny, you have either used a moisturizer with too high a lipid content than your skin needs or have added too much product. At night, it's a great time to increase your moisturizing layer in order to allow the products beneath to be locked in and absorbed while you sleep. 

Lastly, It is really important to make changes to your skin care products as the seasons' change and when you change environments. Heading to the desert? Add more hydration and always lock it in with a moisturizer. Heading to a humid tropical location, hydrate as always, but you will require less product and a moisturizer with much less lipid content. Managing this alone can drastically  & proactively ensure your skin doesn't see the negative benefits of the environmental changes.

Below, I've outlined some of our most popular hydrating and moisturizing products to help your skin glow! 


hydradew mask
+hyluronic acid concentrate
aha mask
skin boost serum
gel kleanser
face skotion
face skotion lite
kalm down mask
moisture induce mask
dream kream
gold kream
dewlux face kream
kream kleanser



Happy Skin!

- Andrea


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