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  5. Hydration Or Moisturisation - What Does Your Skin Need?

Whether you have dry or oily skin, hydration is an important step in your skincare regime. Even more so during these cold and dry winter months. But are you confused whether your skin needs a moisturizer, hydrator or both?

Before you choose a skin care product, it is important to know the difference between a moisturizer and hydrator, and how each of them works on your skin. Read on to know the difference between hydrating and moisturizing skin, so that you can make a better choice.

What Is Hydration And Why Is It Important For Your Skin?

Hydration is the process by which water from the air is absorbed and infused into your skin cells. As a result, skin cells become more plum and reflect light, making your skin look radiant. Hydration not only increases the moisture content of your skin but also assists in the absorption of nutrients from the skin care products into your skin.

When skin cells lose water, skin becomes dehydrated. This can affect anyone irrespective of their skin type. Dry, flaky skin, tightness or redness indicates that your skin lacks enough water. Severe lack of hydration can also make your skin over sensitive. Not drinking enough water, excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption, unhealthy food habits and pollution can dehydrate your skin.

Ingredients of Hydrating Agents

Hydrating agents are also known as humectants. Hyaluronic acid, glycerin, alpha hydroxy acids, sodium pca and urea are some effective humectants.

What Is Moisturisation?

Moisturisation aims to trap and lock the water content of your skin so as to enhance your skin’s protective barrier function. Moisturisation prevents water loss from your skin and ensures that your skin stays soft and smooth.

An enhanced skin barrier not only locks hydration but also prevents the entry of pathogens.[1] If your skin does not produce enough lipids or oils, the barrier function of the skin is weakened.

Ingredients Of A Moisturiser

Moisturisers contain occlusive ingredients such as petrolatum, silicone derivatives, lanolin, lecithin, etc. which enhance the skin’s barrier function and facilitate locking the moisture within the skin.[2] They may also contain ceramides, the natural lipids of your skin, that protects it from damage due to pollution and other environmental stresses.

Hydrator, Moisturizer Or Both: What Does Your Skin Need?

Before you decide whether you need a hydrator, moisturiser or both, you need to know and analyze your skin condition well. You can take the SkinKraft’s “Know Your Skin” questionnaire to make a better choice for your skin.

1. For Dry Skin

You have dry skin if your skin feels tight, itchy or peels off irrespective of the weather conditions. These signs indicate that your skin barrier is not functioning properly and is failing to hold the moisture within the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin). A thick oil based moisturizer can be ideal to rescue your skin from dryness.

2. For Dehydrated Skin

Dehydrated skin looks dull and parched, and can even have fine lines. Your skin might even be producing excessive oil to compensate for the lack of water in the cells. In this case, a hydrator can be used. This will pull in the water and lock it into your skin cells, making them plump and bouncy.

3. For Dry & Dehydrated Skin

Does your dry skin lack lustre and bounce even after you have lathered enough moisturiser for days? Then you may be having both dry as well as dehydrated skin and need a hydrator and moisturizer both.

young woman applying anti-wrinkles cream

Hydrating Vs. Moisturizing: What's The Difference?



Hydrating is the process of adding moisture to your skin.

Moisturising is bolstering your skin’s barrier function, so that the moisture does not escape from the epidermis.

Dehydrated skin cells lose water, making skin dull and wrinkled.

Loss of moisture makes your skin dry. Dry skin is flaky, itchy and can have redness.

Any skin type, be it oily, dry, or mixed can get dehydrated. It will then need hydration.

Dry skin type tends to lose water all year round. A good moisturiser is needed to resolve the dryness of your skin.

Serums with hyaluronic acids, glycerin, etc. are good humectants.

Creams and lotions with vitamins and antioxidants are excellent moisturisers.

How To Pick the Right Hydrator Or Moisturizer?

The distinction between the terms ‘hydrator’ and ‘moisturiser’ are often ambiguous when it comes to cosmetic products. More often than not, your moisturising cream might contain a hydrator and vice versa. Looking at the ingredients might give you an idea about which product will best suit your skin’s requirements. You may also consult a dermatologist if you are unsure or have any specific skin concerns.

The aim is to have sufficient moisture in the skin and prevent the escape of that moisture from your skin. Drinking enough water can keep both your body and skin well hydrated. If your skin still looks and feels thirsty, using a water-based hydrator can help. This is suitable for all skin types. It is best to stick to a light serum of hyaluronic acid or AHAs, if you have oily skin.

If you have chronically dry skin all year round, then moisturisers are your best friend. A light gel or lightweight lotion is suitable for the warm summer or spring months. Thicker and heavier products such as coconut or almond oils, and ceramides are good options for the cold and dry winter months.

Some experts recommend using both hydrators and moisturisers, especially for mature skin. You can first use a hydrator to add moisture to your skin and then layer it up with a moisturiser to hold the moisture in.

Wrapping Up

A healthy skin not only enhances your appearance but is also an essential protective organ against germs and pollutants. Therefore you need to ensure that not only are the skin-cells well hydrated but also that they stay hydrated. Making an informed choice of moisturiser or hydrator can save you from skin woes and go a long way in giving you a youthful and radiant look.

Begin By Knowing Your Skin

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