Moisture Vs Hydration; they’re not the same

Surprised? It’s true. Hydrating and moisturizing are two terms that actually mean different things. While it is common for some consumers to assume that haircare and skincare products labeled, “moisturizing” are “hydrating” or vice- versa, each product actually serves a specific but different purpose when it comes to your skincare needs. 

But why the confusion? The beauty industry is booming with numerous brands, an abundance of innovative products, and labels advertising ground-breaking ingredients you can encounter up and down the beauty aisles. Since brands use the terms “hydrating” and “moisturizing” interchangeably on various skincare and haircare products, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when choosing between which “moisturizing” and “hydrating” products are more suitable for your individual skin or hair type.

I get it. I have bought more products than I care to admit, without really knowing if they were ‘right’ for my skin and hair type. This is why knowing more about the products you use, can make all the difference in your hydration and moisturization goals. 

So, What’s the Difference between Hydrating and Moisturizing?

According to dermatologists, hydrating refers to increasing the amount of water in your skin. However, moisturizing refers to preventing the loss of water from your skin. In an article posted by SHAPE, Meghan Feely, M.D., FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist in New Jersey and New York City, explains the difference as follows [1]:

  • Hydrating products hydrate your skin cells, i.e. increase their water content.” 
  • Moisturizing products, on the other hand, help to prevent trans-epidermal water loss—AKA moisture that evaporates from your skin—reinforcing your skin’s barrier function…” 

How You Can Tell if Your Skin Needs Hydrating or Moisturizing

Is your skin dry? Dehydrated? Both? 
Before choosing a hydrator or moisturizer, you must first identify your skin type and the root cause of your dehydration or dry skin by answering this question.
Board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Dhaval Bhanusali, gives some tips for determining whether your skin is dry or dehydrated in an article by
“Dry skin describes your skin type: it produces very little oil (sebum).” [1] Dr. Lortscher explains in SHAPE, that it is possible for our skin not to produce a lot of oil but still have normal levels of hydration or water. This would be an example of skin that is dry, but still hydrated. If this is the case for your skin, then a good moisturizer is what your skin needs to help lock in moisture. Your skin is most likely dry if you experience these symptoms: [2] 

  • Dry
  • Flakey
  • Rough
  • Cracked 

“Dehydrated skin is a skin condition that can make your skin look dull and lackluster…” [2] If left untreated it can also contribute to other skin issues like wrinkles, eczema and psoriasis, according to NYC dermatologist Dr. Hellman. [3] This means your skin lacks water and you should drink plenty of water throughout the day. Some signs of dehydrated skin are: [2]

  • Flakiness
  • A rough/scaly texture 
  • Itchiness or skin tightness 
  • Excess Oil

Causes of Dry or Dehydrated Skin

Sorry to break the bad news, but although some external factors can be the culprit of your dry skin, it most likely is “hereditary and due largely to genetics” according to Dr. Hellman. [3] 
Some external causes of dehydrated skin are:

  • low water intake
  • a poor diet
  • large caffeine consumption
  • climate  

On the other hand, dry skin can be caused due to other factors including:

  • age
  • climate
  • genetics
  • hormones

For this reason, dermatologists suggest keeping your skin consistently moisturized as it will help lessen the damage to your skin over the years.

The “It” Ingredients to Kiss Dry and Dehydrated Skin Goodbye!

“The best ingredient for dry or dehydrated skin is hyaluronic acid, due to its ability to hold up to 1000 times its weight in hydration,” says Los Angeles esthetician, Melissa Lekus,as she explains in an article by Healthline. [3]  Similarly, David Lortscher, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist also recommends using hyaluronic acid in an article by Shape, stating: “Using hyaluronic acid has shown a positive effect on the appearance of wrinkles and skin elasticity due to its moisture-binding properties, which help keep your skin plump and dewy…” [1]

Dr. Hellman, a New York City dermatologist, recommends alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as lactic acid and glycolic acid for their ability “to encourage hydration and cell turnover.” [3] Other hydrating ingredients to look for in products “that deliver water to the cells directly” are propylene glycol, urea, or glycerin, and aloe. [1] 

For moisturizing the skin, dermatologists recommend products that contain ingredients including: ceramides, glycerin, or omega-fatty acids. Facial oils are also a great source of moisture. [2]

Avoid these Ingredients for Dry or Dehydrated Skin!

Dermatologists warn about using ingredients that may worsen your dry or dehydrated skin. Look out for these ingredients and avoid products containing them as they soak up the skin’s natural oils leaving your skin over-dry by stripping the top layer of the epidermis. These ingredients may cause your skin to become flaky or scaly:

  • perfumes/parfum
  • kaolin
  • charcoal
  • salicylic acid
  • tea tree oil 

Causes of Dry Hair 

Hair that doesn’t receive or retain enough moisture, loses its shine and becomes frizzy and dull. 

Does your hair feel brittle or rough? There may be several causes leading to your dry hair concerns including, environmental conditions, hair care habits, and your physical health. [4]

Here are some of the environmental conditions that can cause dry hair include:

  • living in a dry, hot climate
  • spending a lot of time in the sun or wind
  • frequently swimming in chlorinated or salty water

Other causes of dry hair can be brought on by your hair care practices. For example, ask yourself these questions regarding your hair routine: 

  • Do you wash your hair too often?
  • Do you use harsh shampoos, conditioners, or styling products?
  • How often are you dying or chemically treating your hair?
  • Are you blow-drying your hair daily?
  • Are using electric curling irons, straighteners, or curlers?

Another cause of dry hair may be related to your health. Some underlying health issues that can affect your hair’s ability to retain moisture include:

  • Anorexia nervosa: An eating disorder, anorexia nervosa can lead to malnutrition. It can cause dry and brittle hair, along with more serious complications. [4]
  • Hypoparathyroidism: If you have hypoparathyroidism, the parathyroid gland in your neck produces too little parathyroid hormone, which decreases the level of calcium in your blood. Calcium is a key nutrient for healthy hair, as well as bones, teeth, and other tissue. [4]
  • Hypothyroidism: With hypothyroidism, your thyroid glands don’t produce enough thyroid hormones. Dry and brittle hair is one of the early symptoms of this condition. [4]

Quick Tips to Fix Dry Hair

Try making these changes to your hair care routine to help fix your dry hair, suggested by Higuera in her article about dry hair in Healthline: [4] 

  • Avoid shampooing your hair every day.
  • Condition your hair every time you wash it.
  • Use a shampoo and conditioner that are right for your hair type.
  • Use moisturizing styling products.
  • Avoid chemical hair treatments.
  • Avoid using heat when possible
  • Use only silicone-free, clean ingredient products to avoid build up

Highly Recommended Hydrating and Moisturizing Products 

These two products are non-negotiables for me. Bonus: The mist doubles as a make up setter

The key for moisture is going to be using the correct moisturizer for your skin type. These are some of the best moisturizers I’ve ever tried. I will never go without my Night Haven. Dave says it gives me portcelain skin. As for Dave, I almost didn’t order a replacement in time to get here before his moisturizer ran out and he made sure I knew exactly how I felt about it .. not happy!

More recommendations in support of using Monat products can be found across the internet including, Molly Sims Beauty Everywhere blog written by Marissa DeSantis. Here board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Amy Ross explains the importance of incorporating products with the right ingredients that should be paired together to get the most effective results instead of causing more damage to your skin. 

So what product did Ross recommend that’s best for moisturizing? MONAT’s Be Gentle Moisturizer! Pointing out it’s key ingredient, hyaluronic acid. [6]

Finally, Brittany Burhop Fallon, writes about Monat’s skin care line in a New Beauty article and raves that “it’s everything you hoped for.” One of MONAT’s products recommended for dry hair is—REJUVENIQE Oil Intensive— as a customer favorite! The intensive hair oil contains an oil plus a blend of 13 natural plant extracts and essential oils that are rich in omega fatty acids, antioxidants and nutrients.[7]

Rejuvenique Oil Intensive By MONAT

Weekly overnight hair oil treatments are a must around here! They leave my hair filling strong, hydrated and shiney. We have a variety of masques that also help hydrate (literally obsessed with our adv. hydration masque) and conditioners varying in levels of moisturization so they can be specifically tailored to your needs.
Overall, it is best to speak with a certified doctor or dermatologist to find the root cause of your dry or dehydrated skin or hair concerns. Then, if you’re in the market for a product that really delivers shoot me a message over on IG or FB and lets hook you up with the ideal hydrators and moisturizers for your skin and hair care goals!

[1] Shiffer, Emily, There’s a Difference Between “Moisturizing” and “Hydrating” Skin-Care Products

2. Fisher, Margaret, Hydrating vs. Moisturizing: What’s the Difference?

3. Barcela, Laura, How to Hydrate Your Skin When Nothing Works

4.Higeura, Valencia, Why Do I Have Dry Hair?

5. The Derm Review, Monat Skincare Review

6.DeSantis, Marisa, A Dermatologist Explains The Skincare Ingredients You Should Never Mix

7. Fallon, Brittany Burhop, MONAT Just Launched a Skin-Care Line and It’s Everything You Hoped For

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.