Brands often use ‘moisturise’ and ‘hydrate’ interchangeably, but did you know there’s actually a difference between them? Yes of course, they both provide nourishment for your skin, but learning what the differences are will help you find what’s best for your skin… let’s get started!

In simple terms, 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.

Let’s define them…

“Hydration and moisture refer to water and oil levels in the skin respectively. Hydrating the skin make it look plump and healthy and using a moisturiser makes dry and flaky skin look smooth” says Dr Geeta Arora of Backstage Medispa.

‘Hydration’ is the absorption of moisture from the air, which infuse your cells with water to improve your skin’s ability to absorb nutrients and nutrients. Hydrators bind water to the skin.

All skin types and concerns need hydration, but if you have dehydrated skin, your skin lacks water and needs to be hydrated.

Hydration can make the skin feel soft – but it won’t stay that way if there’s no oil to protect that hydration from making its escape. Escaped hydration leaves the skin dry and flaky. Hydrated skin is plump and infused, skin is softer and firmer.

Humectants are amazing at increasing the skins hydration as they attract water from the environment to the skin. They also draw water from deeper layers of the skin.

Look for: hyaluronic acid, natural glycerine, aloe vera and honey

‘Moisturizing’ is about locking IN moisture to build up your skin’s natural protective barrier. It helps prevent any water loss and help your skin remaining soft and smooth and is oil-based.  It makes skin’s surface feel softer and smoother.

All skin types need to be moisturised, but if you have dry skin, it means your skin is lacking in oil and needs to be moisturised. Lotions and creams are great moisturisers.

Occlusives and emollients are great moisturisers. Occlusives are oils and lips that form a layer on the skin to prevent water loss and emollients strengthen the skins barrier function and promote an improvement in the skin’s appearance and texture.

“The key difference between hydration and moisturiser in skin care is that hydrating ingredients (humectants) actually hold on to and attract water molecules into the skin (from the body and environment). Moisturisers tend to stop water loss by being more occulsive and forming a seal over the skin to stop water escaping. Moisturisers tend to have more oil-based ingredients whereas the hydrating products tend to have humectants such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin,” says Consultant Dermatologist, Dr Ben Esdaile of Skin and Me.

Look for: petrolatum, shea butter, jojoba oil, grape seed oil and rosehip oil.

Quite often, you need a combination of both, but if you want to layer them yourselves, make sure to start with the hydration to bring in the moisture from the air, then a moisturising element to lock it all in. “Sometimes, moisturisers just occlude air getting to the skin, they create this barrier layer so your skin doesn’t particularly get hydrated, it just does not get dehydrated. Whereas actual hydration is when you get moisture into the skin,” says Dr Ahmed El Muntasar GP and Award Winning Aesthetician.