Hydrating vs. Moisturizing Skincare Products: What’s The Difference?

There is an endless amount of terminology in the skincare world and for many of us, some words are so similar it’s easy to mix-up their actual meaning. A prime example of this? The great confusion around hydrating vs. moisturizing products. 

For so many of us product-loving people, the two are treated interchangeably. Moisturize. Hydrate. Different words get thrown around for the same culprits. But, is there really a difference? Yes! Hydrating isn’t moisturizing, and moisturizing isn’t hydrating. The two are very different and knowing the difference will help you choose products that work for your unique skincare concerns. 

So what's the difference between hydrating vs. moisturizing? Let’s get to the bottom of it.

Lesson 1: Let’s Talk TEWL. 

TEWL stands for Trans-Epidermal Water Loss. This is essentially the amount of water that is lost from the skin to the environment throughout the day. It has been estimated that on the daily we lose about a pint of water due to environmental factors. When temperatures drop, the TEWL is greater; when temperatures increase, the TEWL is lower. This is why in the winter, we get dry skin and in the summer, our skin tends to stay hydrated and dewy.

So what does this term have to do with moisturizing versus hydrating, you wonder? Everything.

Lesson 2: Moisturizing.

When it comes to dealing with TEWL, this is where using a moisturizer is handy. You are providing a barrier of protective oils over your skin to lower the amount of water that is lost to the environment. Think of it like Harry Potter’s Invisible Cloak, shielding your skin’s lipid layer from the temperature changes to prevent the pesky outside world from affecting your complexion. A moisturizing product helps to keep hydration in, keeping things in balance, so that you don’t experience dry, flaky skin.

Use a moisturizing product (ie. oil-based serum or facial oil) like our Moisture Boost serum if you're experiencing any of the following skin concerns:

  • Tightness
  • Flakiness
  • Peeling
  • Fine lines
  • Cracked skin
  • Redness

Lesson 3: Hydrating.

Hydrating products on the other hand, aren’t trying to defend your skin from the big, bad environment. Their job is to increase the water levels of your skin. Hydrating implies that there is water involved. In fact, these products are referred to as ‘hygroscopic substances’ that draw water from the environment into the skin to keep things hydrated. Therefore, instead of creating a barrier like a moisturizing product does, these products aim to keep your skin properly hydrated (like a tall glass of water) by drawing and attracting more water to it.

Use a hydrating product (ie. water-based serum, essence or mist) like our Heart Rising Quintessential Hydrating Facial Mist if you're experiencing any of the following skin concerns:

  • Itchiness
  • Dull skin
  • Dark under-eye circles
  • A sunken appearance
  • Increased fine lines and wrinkles
  • Skin sensitivity

Lesson 4: Apply Lessons 1-3.

Now that you know the details and differences between hydrating vs. moisturizing products, here's how you can ensure that they work in harmony to give you healthy, glowing skin. Simply make sure that you use them in the right order! Here’s how that would look:

  1. After cleansing, use a hydrating mist like The Offering Ageless Ritual Facial Mist to infuse skin cells with hydration (aka. water!)
  2. Next, apply a moisturizing serum like Moisture Boost or Age Gracefully to trap in all of that amazing hydration. 
  3. Throughout the day, you can use an ultra-fine facial mist (so as not to disturb makeup) like any of our Ritual Facial Mists to further promote water levels and retain a dewy glow. 

There you have it, the differences between hydrating and moisturizing products debunked. You can go on and enjoy your skincare routine no longer confusing these two especially important characteristics

Comment below and let us know if you've ever confused the two!