Hydration vs. Moisture: What Does My Skin Need?

There’s a lot of chatter about the difference between hydration for the face and using a moisturizer. Which one should you be using for healthy skin? What are the benefits of keeping your skin hydrated and moisturized? Why should you care about hydration and moisture? Give us a few minutes, and you’ll be an expert on hydration vs. moisture.

First off, let’s define hydrators and moisturizers…

What’s the difference between hydration and moisture?

Simply put, hydration equals water, and moisture equals oil.

If your skin is dehydrated, it is lacking water. And if your skin is dry, it is lacking oil.

What is a hydrator?

A hydrator (like hyaluronic acid) helps to bring water to the skin using humectants. These humectants help collect moisture in the environment and bind it to the skin, which allows the skin to absorb the water.

Pure Hyaluronic Acid serum is the perfect example of a hydrator. Think of it like a big drink of water for your skin. There are multiple benefits of hyaluronic acid, and hydration is key. No matter the skin type (dry skin, oily, combination) or concern (acne-prone skin, aging, dullness) every skin needs proper hydration.

What is a moisturizer?

A moisturizer contains oils and emollient ingredients like shea butter that help lock in hydration and keep the skin feeling soft and smooth. All skin has a natural lipid (oil) barrier, but when skin is drier, or aging, that lipid barrier starts to break down, and the skin loses moisture.

Do you need both hydration and moisture for your skin?

Yes! Hydrators prevent water loss and dehydrated skin, while moisturizers lock in hydration and create skin barrier protection.

Some products, like Multi-Active Hydrating Night Cream, are hydrators and moisturizers combined. Talk about a win-win!

Does oily skin need hydration and moisture?

All skin types (even oily!) and skin concerns (even acne!) can benefit from hydration and a moisturizer. If the skin's surface is constantly stripped of hydration and natural oils from toners and harsh cleansers, it will overreact by producing even more oil to try and protect the skin. The result can be oilier and more congested skin.

For oily and acne prone skin, retinol serums with hyaluronic acid give a much-needed boost of water content to the skin, while lightweight moisturizers (that also contain acne- and oil-fighting skincare ingredients) help lock in hydration and protect the skin's barrier.

Which products should you use (and when) for hydration and moisture?

Products that aid in skin hydration are typically serums. Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid. Some products combine hyaluronic acid with other ingredients to fight additional skin concerns. For example, if antioxidant protection and brighter skin are important to you, try a skincare product like Vitamin C serum that also contains hyaluronic acid.

Moisturizers, lotions, oils, and creams typically lock in moisture. If your skin is oilier, look for lighter weight lotions and for drier skin, rich creams are best. During the day, most people prefer a lightweight lotion, and a heavier cream at night.

The Best Skincare Routine for Dehydrated or Dry Skin

Typically, you’ll cleanse the skin, follow with a gentle toner, use a serum, and finish with a moisturizer (don’t forget to use SPF during the day!).

If your skin is dry or dehydrated, formulas that are richer in texture and gentler on the skin are recommended.

Below is an example of a daily skincare regiment for dry, flaky skin.

Morning Skincare Routine

  1. Start with a gentle cleanser that is milky or creamy in texture. Avoid gels and foams as they are typically formulated to help control oil and can strip oils from the skin. If the skin has been thoroughly cleaned the night before, and the skin feels dry and flaky, it might be best to cleanse the skin with warm water only, and move on to a toner and serum.
  2. Use a gentle toner that also products against free radical damage with Vitamin C. This will also help balance the pH levels of the skin and allow the skin to further soak up serums and moisturizers.
  3. Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum is perfect for dry and dehydrated skin. Apply one to two drops onto the palms of the hands and press into the face, neck, and chest. Feel free to layer another serum with Vitamin C to further ward off free radical damage, brighten the skin, and help reduce the appearance of dark spots, fine lines, and wrinkles.
  4. A rich eye cream is recommended to smooth fine lines around the eyes, add moisture, and allow eye makeup to be applied more evenly.
  5. Follow with a protective layer moisturizer like Multi-Active Hydrating Night Cream if the skin is especially dry and dehydrated. Even though it’s called a Night Cream, it’s okay to use during the day for drier skin. If the skin isn’t as dry, use a Vitamin C Facial Day Cream instead. It is lightweight and helps for more flawless foundation application.
  6. Always always follow with a broad spectrum sunscreen. We recommend an SPF of 30 or higher and applying about 1 tablespoon to the face, neck and chest as a protective barrier. No, it doesn’t count if there’s SPF in your makeup…no one uses a tablespoon of foundation on their face, chest, and neck. 

Evening Skincare Routine

  1. Thoroughly remove your makeup with makeup removing wipes or micellar water. Follow with a cleanser to further remove residual makeup as well as dirt and pollutants. Skin that is drier, would enjoy a Vitamin C Cleanser as it’s gentle and does not use harsh scrubs or ingredients to strip already dehydrated skin
  2. Even dry and dehydrated skin needs exfoliation. Two to three times a week, use a Mineral Enzyme Exfoliant to gently remove dead, dry skin cells.
  3. Follow with a hydrating serum. We recommend using hyaluronic acid to further bind water to the skin while sleeping. Feel free to mix in another retinol serum to aid in cell turnover and help reduce the appearance of fine lines.
  4. Don’t forget to apply your eye cream at night. Keep those eyes looking their best. 
  5. Use either a hydrating night cream or a retinol cream. At night, it’s best to use the heaviest textures as the skin is working on repairing and regenerating cells and the additional moisture helps lock in all of the active ingredients just applied.
  6. Sweet dreams!

As the seasons change, and your skin changes, feel free to mix and layer your products differently.


Thank you very much Stefani, it is very useful explanation.

Maria D Webb March 31, 2021

I will do anything to improve my appearance I am in my sixties I have brown spots all over my body all other problems to it’s very embarrassing dont know what to do. Is this good for saggyness.

Lynette Ford December 02, 2020

Beautifully and very easily explained…very much helpful. Big thank you for this information

Neha Raut June 15, 2020

Beautifully and very easily explained…very much helpful. Big thank you for this information

Neha Raut June 15, 2020

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Shay May 22, 2020

Great information.
Thank you.
Some of your tips I will share with my readers on https://medium.com/@s.joana/what-happens-when-you-dont-moisturize-cf8d91f35528

Joana November 27, 2019

All very interesting.but am muddled up as to what I should be using ..I have a latin coloured skin as opposed to typical english rose type.I nearly always wear a hat and luckerly I’m told they suit meFor years have worn (Rimmel)which seems not to ruined my skin. Now ,many years later and advancing in years have acculumalated several brown spots on my face,so decided perhaps my skin needs more luxury attention .For almost a year I have been using Aveda botanical hydrating lotion night and day……sometimes followed by a Olay anyti wrinkle pro vital lotion .spt15 .In the sun 50 spf. Which I have used for15 yrs.
My question is there anything else I should be doing..

Ann fry March 16, 2019

excellent in formations please post your newsletters fro skin care and anti aging precautions.

asiya bano November 29, 2018

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