The beauty industry has done a pretty poor job in educating consumers on the major difference between two huge components in the skincare space: Hydration vs Moisture. Much to my chagrin, I see brands even use the terms interchangeably as if they were equal or produced the same results. I want to make this super easy for everyone to understand the difference between hydration vs moisturization, so you know what to look for in formulas to help your skin.
Moisture - Oil, Butter, Cream, Balm
Moisture is a nourishing agent that feeds and seals from the outside of what it's applied to: hair, skin, nails, etc. The molecular size of moisturizing ingredients are too big to completely penetrate the skin. This allows them to create on occlusion on the outside of the skin. This barrier, is important, because it seals hydration inside.
Hydration - Aloe, Hyaluronic Acid
Hydration sealed inside? Yep. Hydrating molecules are small enough to penetrate skin cells and escape right back out if they aren't sealed in. From a hydration standpoint based on the water held in our skin, we call this Trans-Epidermal Water Loss (TEWL). Without a barrier of moisture to lock in hydration and water, our skin becomes dry and dehydrated.
Ingredients like aloe, hyaluronic acid, ceramides, glycerin, even some oils and acids. A little confusing, I know. But if you focus on how the ingredients penetrate (or not!) that is how you can determine if an ingredient or formula is hydrating vs moisturizing.
I like to explain it like this:
When we are dehydrated, we drink water.
When we are dry, we put on lotion.
But something we all need to remember: we need both for our skin, hair, and nails to function optimally. So make sure you designate a hydrator and a moisturizer at each skincare session to nourish your skin the right way.