Hydrating vs. Moisturizing Your Skin

When it comes to discussion around great skincare, it’s not uncommon that hydration and moisturization are used interchangeably. But in truth, there’s a difference between what these two terms mean for skincare. Knowing the subtle differences between the two and understanding what your skin needs can make all the difference in unlocking beautiful, youthful looking skin. 

What’s the difference skin hydration or moisturization?

As most skincare gurus will tell you, keeping skin looking youthful and supple comes down to keeping skin cells practically water-logged. During our younger years, skin cells have strong protective barriers that keep water locked in and cells swollen. This is what gives skin its full volume and youthful appearance. However, the aging process takes a toll on the cell’s ability to retain important water volume. Environmental factors like pollution and sun damage weaken the protective barrier around skin cells, causing cells to lose their water retention capabilities. This allows cells to become dehydrated, causing them to shrivel and shrink. The combination of aging symptoms directly impacts skin’s appearance, leaving patients feeling self-conscious about their appearance. To counteract these unwanted side effects, many patients turn to at-home hydration and moisturization solutions. 

While the terms may seem synonymous, hydrating treatments and moisturizing treatments are two different methods for improving water retention and restoring volume to vulnerable skin cells. Hydration focuses on increasing water content within cells and the overall skin. Usually, this is done by the applying ingredients (humectants) to the skin’s surface. These topical treatments then absorb water and bind it to skin, improving the overall hydration of skin. 

In contrast, moisturization treatments focuses on reducing water loss by reinforcing the skin’s natural barrier. In healthy skin, the barrier is made up of a continuous lipid layer that seals in moisture and minimizes transepidermal water loss (TEWL). When this barrier become disrupted, patients can start to develop dry, flaky skin. To treat lipid layer disruption, moisturization treatments are designed to penetrate deep into the skin to minimize water evaporation through skin.

What does my skin need?

Not all dry skin is dehydrated skin. As a result, each requires a distinct treatment in order to improve skin quality and appearance. Dry, flaky skin can be indicative that your skin cells are missing the important protective barrier and cannot form enough natural oil on its own. For these patients, a high-quality moisturizer can help reinforce skin cells and lock in much-needed water. 

In contrast, dull complexions with pronounced fine lines is a sign that your skin cells are shrinking from missing water. For these patients, water-soluble hydrators can help plump shriveling cells and improve overall skin volume. 

Find the Right Care for Your Skin

Walking down a drug store aisle, it can be difficult to know what kind of treatment best suits your skin type and needs. Discover the right dermatological solution for your skin type by scheduling a consultation with experienced New Orleans dermatologist Dr. Kyle Coleman. Together, you’ll identify which skincare treatments best suit your skin and will help you achieve your long-term goals. Call (504)227-3873 today to get started!

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