Hydrating vs Moisturizing – Elizabeth Adams, MD

Water is undoubtedly one of the essentials in life. Researchers agree that while the human body can go almost a month without food, it can last only two to three days without water. We touched on the importance of water as a means of hydration in this month’s newsletter and mentioned how water helps to keep our organs operating properly. Did you know that the skin, also referred to as dermis, is actually our body’s largest organ? Therefore, hydration is necessary for our skin to be (and look!) its best as well. Because our skin is comprised of several layers, it is necessary to hydrate the skin at each level. Enter moisturization.

Generally speaking, hydration and moisturization both involve the application of fluid in or to the body, however they are not interchangeable. While most people are familiar with these household terms, many people are not as familiar with the unique characteristics of hydration and mositurization and why each is equally essential in the maintenance of good skin. In this blog, we are going to talk about the difference between the two and highlight the specific roles each play in skin health.

Hydration and moisturization work hand in hand to ensure that your skin has a healthy amount of water in each layer. Hydration typically speaks to the internal while moisturization speaks to the external. Drinking appropriate amounts of hydrating liquids helps to keep your cells and ultimately your skin hydrated, while applying moisturizing products to your skin help to topically provide a shield that retains the moisture in your skin.

Hydration can take time, though, as the liquid must travel through the digestive system to begin its work. Moisturization, however, works much more quickly to relieve the symptoms of dehydrated skin. According to Nicole Akers, head of education and training at the skincare line, SkinCeuticals, “Dehydrated skin lacks water and therefore requires hydration. “Dry skin lacks oil and needs to be moisturized. It is important to distinguish between these two skin conditions because they can often be treated incorrectly.”

Simply put, without hydration, moisturization is literally only skin deep. And without moisturization, hydrated skin falls prey to the environmental elements that extract the moisture from your skin.

So how do you know if you are suffering from a lack of hydration or a need for moisturization?

If you are suffering from dehydrated skin, your skin may feel tight, appear dull, and over time, show more significant signs of aging like wrinkles and fine lines. Hydration primarily comes from drinking hydrating liquids, but can also be applied topically or introduced intravenously for a temporary fix! When looking for a hydrator, products that contain substances naturally produced by our bodies, such as hyaluronic acids, are safer and more effective.  

Under-moisturized skin will appear dry and flaky as the skin is unable to hold on to the water needed for the upper layer of skin, called the epidermis, to function well. Moisturizers help to bond the lipids of this outer layer together and lock in the moisture your skin desperately needs. The best type of moisturizer to use depends on your skin type, but should generally contain ingredients like aloe and natural oils such as almond, coconut, and jojoba oils.

This month’s charge to “get into the flow of life” is appropriate for all areas of life- the skin included! If you are suffering from dehydrated, under moisturized skin and are uncertain which types of products are best for your skin type, we would love to introduce you to a few of our favorites!

 

Posted in: Elizabeth Adams MD, Hydration, Mindfulness

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