Watch commercials or flip through ads for a while and you’ll come across manufacturers who say their beauty products hydrate or moisturise. People sometimes use these terms interchangeably, but they are not the same. In fact, knowing the difference can make a huge difference in the items you buy and how you look.
Hydrating something means you increase its moisture content. Specifically, it means you increase the amount of water something contains – the root for the verb hydrate is “hydro,” meaning “water.” For instance, you hydrate soil in your garden when you pour water on it from a watering can. From the beauty perspective, hydrating means you increase the amount of water in the body or in specific cells. With enough water, your cells stay nice and plump and can carry out the functions for which they are intended.
Moisturising refers to regulating the amount of hydration in something. Usually, people do this by adding some sort of protective layer to the item. This layer stops water loss and keeps excess water from coming in. For example, you moisturise your hair when you coat it with some conditioner. In the same way, lotion or the oil your pores naturally produce moisturises your skin.
Why the Difference Matters
Manufacturers of beauty products indicate whether an item is supposed to moisturise or hydrate. They also make claims about hydrating and moisturising in print and other advertisements. If you do not understand the difference between hydrating and moisturising, you might end up picking a product that isn’t right for you. For example, hydrating products can plump up cells to the point of reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. A moisturising product will protect your cells, but it won’t plump them up.
Thus, hydrating has to come before moisturising. If you moisturise without hydrating, you don’t get your skin or hair in prime condition before you protect it.
Hydrating products have to contain water by default, whereas moisturising products usually are made from silicone or oils. This means that it’s difficult for a product to both hydrate and moisturise – the product either gets into the skin or hair or sits on top of it. If your skin or hair already is very oily, you might not have as much need for a moisturising item.