Moisturizing vs Hydration— They're Different. We'll Explain.
Here at Materiae, we don’t think that moist should be a dirty word. For us, radiant, soft, dewy, and glowing come to mind at the idea of being moist. In fact, perfectly moist skin? We deem that #goals in this house.
But when we say certain products are moisturizing, and others are hydrating, we aren’t just being clever. We aren’t just having fun with words, or swapping them out interchangeably, willy nilly, just to mix things up. They are indeed very different things. And we need both.
We need to be both hydrated and moisturized to achieve a radiant, supple, age-preventative glow. Both hydrating products as well as moisturizing products are deeply nourishing, but there is a science to it.
Hydration is when our skin absorbs moisture from the air or our products, and infuses our cells with that water. We believe Ben Stiller said it best in Zoolander when he so deftly explained that “water is the essence of wetness.” Hydrating products help improve our skin’s ability to absorb more water and nutrients.
Hydration is also an inside job. Proper hydration of the body will show up on our skin in the form of plump, healthy cells. We need to drink lots of water, electrolytes, and consume hydrating foods to see this effect, so make it a habit. Hydrate from the inside out for that plump, healthy look.
Essentially, all hydrators are going to be water-based. Most serums (not oil serums) will be water based, and thus hydrating. You’ll notice a flexible firmness after applying your water-based serums, especially those rich in hero-hydrator, hyaluronic acid, but it doesn’t last without proper follow-up.
Moisturization on the other hand, is about trapping moisture on the surface of the skin. We cannot moisturize from the inside out, it’s strictly a job for topicals only. It helps to build our skin’s natural protective barrier (think microbiome for the surface of the skin) to prevent water loss (aka dehydration, it’s all becoming clear now) to ensure that we look dewy and smooth.
We trap this water, or hydration, with oil or lipid-based products. Moisturizers are by definition emollient, and always, always contain oil of some kind, whether that’s a straight up face oil or oil serum, or an emulsion of water and oil, which creates the texture we know as cream or lotion.
You’ll notice that when your skin is dry and flaky, emollient products work great to mask it. But what your skin may be really telling you is that it needs a drink of water first (hydrate!) and then to be sealed in with a moisturizer. Because water evaporates, moisturizers are the soothing insurance to make sure hydrators have time to hang out and do their job.
If we slather on moisturizers without first properly hydrating our bodies and our skin, it may temporarily mask the issue, i.e. the dry flakes, but our skin will still appear dull and flat. Hydrating first ensures that bouncy resilience, and moisturizing locks it in. Shop some of our favorite hydrating and moisturizing products below.
Written by Nicole Lesmeister