Hydration vs. Moisture: How to Know What Your Skin Needs

Hydration and moisturization are two distinct skin treatments. While water repels water from the outer layer of the epidermis, moisturizing ingredients help to retain this water and prevent it from escaping. Many products marketed as moisturizers contain both hydrating and moisturizing properties.

What is The difference Between Moisture and Hydration?

“Moisture is the seal, hydration is the real deal!” In other words, moisture helps to lock in hydration, which is the key to skincare ingredients truly nourishing and replenishing your skin’s barrier function.

While moisture is important, it’s the proper hydration itself that provides the vital nutrients your skin needs to stay healthy and radiant. So, when it comes to skincare, remember to prioritize hydration for the real deal!

What is Moisturizing?

When we talk about moisturization, we’re referring to the combination of both water and oil in the skin barrier. Moisturizing is about achieving a balance between the two to keep the skin cells healthy and hydrated. So while oil is not moisturization on its own, it can help to maintain the skin’s balance when used in combination with other hydrating ingredients.

Skin Hydration vs. Moisturized Skin

Skin hydration and moisturized skin are two related but distinct concepts in skincare. What it refers to is the amount of water content in the epidermis.

Adequately hydrating skin, makes skin plump, supple, and will smooth out fine lines and wrinkles, giving it a healthy, youthful appearance. If you don’t hydrate and moisturize regularly you can quickly end up with the outermost layer appearing dull, flaky, and rough.

Moisturizers work by creating a barrier on the skin’s surface to absorb moisture, prevent water loss with emollient ingredients. This barrier also helps to smooth and soften the skin, leaving it looking and feeling more supple and youthful.

So while skin hydration and moisturized skin are related concepts, they are not the same thing. Achieving both is essential for optimal epidermis health and appearance.

To keep your skin hydrated, make sure to drink plenty of water and use products that contain hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin. To keep your skin moisturized, use a moisturizer that contains emollients like ceramides and shea butter to create a barrier and seal in moisture.

Does Oily Skin need Hydration and Moisture?

Although some individuals with oily skin may mistakenly assume they do not require moisturizers or hydrating products due to their skin type, however it is still susceptible to dehydration.

Dehydration can result in an array of problems, including heightened oil production, breakouts, and oxidation of the cells. When the cells lack water content, dehydration occurs, which can happen to any skin type, even oily skin types. In response, the sebaceous glands may produce more oil to compensate, creating a cycle of oiliness and breakouts. However, utilizing hydrating products, such as serums or moisturizers, can help to avoid dehydration.

Oily skin may also benefit from moisturizing by using lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturizers containing ingredients like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, or aloe vera. These elements can soothe and nourish without obstructing pores or causing excessive oil production.

Is Your Skin Dehydrated or Dry?

It can be difficult to distinguish between dehydrated and dry skin as both can manifest similar symptoms, such as roughness, flakiness, and tightness. However, there are a few key differences that can help you determine which one you are dealing with.

Dehydrated skin lacks water content and can be caused by external factors such as weather, diet, or the use of harsh skincare products. Common signs of dehydrated skin include:

  • Dull or lackluster complexion
  • Fine lines or wrinkles
  • Tightness or discomfort, especially after cleansing
  • Increased oil production or breakouts
  • Skin that feels rough to the touch

Dry skin, on the other hand, lacks oil or lipid content and can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, aging, or environmental factors like cold weather. Common signs of dry skin include:

  • Rough or scaly patches
  • Flakiness or peeling
  • Itching or irritation
  • A feeling of tightness or discomfort that persists throughout the day
  • Skin that feels rough or scaly to the touch

If You have Dehydrated Skin, Try a Hydrating Serum

A hydration treatment is beneficial for dehydrated skin as it provides a boost of hydration. Dehydrated skin occurs when the skin lacks water content, often due to external factors like weather, diet, or dehydrating skincare products.

As more hydrating product, serums contains a higher concentration of water-binding ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin that can penetrate deeply into the skin and provide a surge of hydration. The lightweight, fast-absorbing texture of a serum also makes it suitable for layering under other products, like a moisturizer.

If You Have Dry Skin, Try a Thicker Moisturizer

A thicker moisturizer is more suitable for dry skin as it helps to replenish the skin’s natural oils and repair the skin’s specific barrier. Dry skin occurs when the skin lacks oil or lipid content, leading to flakiness, roughness, and discomfort. A thicker, more emollient moisturizer can help to replenish the skin’s natural oils and repair the skin barrier, preventing moisture loss and restoring the skin’s softness and suppleness. A moisturizer is also better at sealing in the hydration provided by the hydrating serum and preventing it from evaporating, creating a protective barrier on the skin’s surface.

Which Products Should You Use (and when) for Hydration and Moisturization?

When selecting skin care products, it’s crucial to take into account skin type, concerns about your skin care routine, and the climate you will use them in. Here are some general guidelines:

For more hydration.:

  • Use a low lather cleanser to avoid stripping and leave skin soft
  • Apply a hydrating toner or essence to balance the pH and prep for next steps
  • Use a serum that contains water-binding ingredients such as glycerin or hyaluronic acid
  • Layer on a lightweight moisturizer or gel cream to prevent water loss

For moisture:

  • Use a gentle low lather cleanser to prevent the loss of the skin’s own natural oil.
  • Apply a toning essence to balance the skin’s pH levels and prepare it for next products
  • Use a richer, emollient moisturizer containing nourishing ingredients such as ceramides or fatty acids to repair the skin barrier and increase hydrating and moisturizing
  • Use a facial oil like coconut oil or jojoba oil to lock in moisture and provide extra nourishment and protection.

Always apply products from thinnest to thickest and allow each one to absorb entirely before applying the next.

The Best Skincare Routine for Dehydrated or Dry Skin

For dehydrated or dry skin, a skincare routine that focuses on hydration and moisturization is essential. Here is an example of a skincare routine for dehydrated or dry skin:


  • Cleanse with a gentle, hydrating cleanser free o
  • Apply a hydrating toner or essence to infuse the skin with moisture
  • Apply a hydrating serum with water-binding ingredients like hyaluronic acid or glycerin to deeply moisturize the skin
  • Follow up with a rich, emollient moisturizer to lock in moisture and prevent water loss
  • Apply a facial sunscreen to protect the skin from UV damage


  • Cleanse with a gentle, hydrating cleanser to remove makeup, dirt, and oil
  • Apply a hydrating toner or essence to infuse the skin with moisture
  • Apply a nourishing serum with ingredients like peptides or antioxidants to repair and protect the skin
  • Follow up with a rich, emollient moisturizer to lock in moisture and prevent water loss
  • Apply a facial oil to provide extra nourishment and protection

Seaweed-based skin care products are better at locking in moisture and hydrating the skin than water or oil-based products because seaweed is rich in minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants that can help to nourish and protect the skin. Seaweed contains polysaccharides, which can help to bind water to the skin and prevent moisture loss. Seaweed-based products can also help to improve the skin’s natural barrier function, allowing it to retain moisture more effectively.

How to Hydrate Your Skin Cells

Water is the foundation of hydrating your skin cells, and understanding its structure is essential to understanding how it interacts with the epidermis. Water molecules are polar, meaning they have a positive and negative end. When they come together, they form a network of hydrogen bonds that create a lattice-like structure. This structure is why water has unique properties like high surface tension, cohesion, and adhesion.

Now, let’s talk about why cold water doesn’t hydrate cells as well as room temperature water does. Water’s lattice-like structure means that cold water has a tighter structure than room temperature water. The tight structure makes it harder for the water molecules to penetrate the skin’s barrier and reach the deeper layers. Room temperature water has a more relaxed structure, allowing it to penetrate the skin cells more effectively.

Water hydrates by binding to molecules like hyaluronic acid and glycerin, which attract and retain water. Oil, on the other hand, seals in the hydration and prevents water loss from the skin. It’s important to note that oil doesn’t hydrate the skin; it only seals in the hydration.

Why It’s Important to Keep Your Skin Hydrated

Skin hydration is a crucial factor in maintaining healthy skin cell health. The lack of sufficient moisture can lead to a dull or crepey complexion, as well as more visible wrinkles. Proper hydration is beneficial for maintaining smoothness.

Try Seaweed-based Hydrators and Moisturizers

seaweed-based products are often lightweight and non-greasy, making them suitable for all skin types, including oily or acne-prone skin. Seaweed extracts can also help to soothe and calm irritated or inflamed skin, making them beneficial for those with sensitive or reactive skin.

Seaweed-based products like Seaflora’s line can be an excellent choice for individuals with dehydrated or dry skin, as they can provide intense hydration and nourishment without leaving a heavy or greasy residue.

Dry Skin Emphasizes Fine Lines and Wrinkles

The skin’s outermost layer known as the epidermis covers a thin layer of lipids. Human skin hydration combines two fatty acids and water. We lose the water all day, so it’s vital to replenish with room temperature living water to maintain a healthy barrier. Without proper skin conditions it cannot protect itself.

Is Water a Good Moisturizer?

Water alone cannot moisturize, but it is essential for keeping it hydrated. When water is applied to the skin, it can temporarily boost its moisture levels. However, if the skin is not moisturized or sealed in with an occlusive product, the water can evaporate quickly, leaving the skin dehydrated.

It’s also important to note that using cold water can cause it to narrow its blood vessels, which can decrease blood flow and nutrient delivery to the epidermis. Using lukewarm or room temperature water is better for hydrating the dermal layers and cells.

So, while water can offer temporary hydration, it is still important to use a good moisturizer or occlusive product to seal in moisture and prevent dehydration.