The Difference between Moisturizers and Hydrators

The Difference between Moisturizers and Hydrators

Posted by Brooklyn S. on

There’s no denying the fact that ample hydration and moisturization play a vital role in keeping our skin supple, smooth, and glowing. We’re all aware that the best way to do so is by using good quality skincare products that contain skin hydrating and moisturizing ingredients. So it makes sense that beauty stores are filled with lotions, creams, and serums to hydrate and moisturize the skin. Any skincare regimen is incomplete without hydration and moisturization.

However, hydration and moisturization aren’t the same things. Although they are commonly used interchangeably, both offer essential nourishment to the skin needed to keep it healthy and youthful. Therefore, it’s significant to know the difference to make the best choice for your skin. 

Why Your Skin Needs hydration?

When it comes to skincare, hydration is critical. However, many of us believe that only those with dry and dehydrated skin need hydration. The fact is that our skin needs hydration, and it’s impossible to keep the skin looking and feeling healthy without sufficient hydration. So, no matter your skin type or problem (wrinkles, acne, discoloration, etc.), you need to provide your skin with a regular dose of hydration. But what does hydration exactly mean? Let’s have a look!

What are Hydrators?

A hydrator in skincare products works by bringing water to the skin using humectant compounds, such as hyaluronic acid or glycerin. Humectant ingredients help attract water from the environment and bind it to the cells, allowing the skin to absorb more water. A pure hyaluronic acid serum is a great example of a good hydrator for the skin.

What is a Moisturizer?

While the role of a hydrator is to bring water to the skin, moisturizing is related to locking or trapping moisture in the skin cells to strengthen the skin’s natural protective lipid barrier. A stronger outer lipid layer is better apt to retain moisture in the skin and prevent moisture loss through epidermal moisture loss. Conversely, a weaker, damaged, or drier lipid barrier can lead to cell breakdown and cause moisture to escape from the skin’s surface.

A moisturizer encompasses different moisturizing agents, such as humectants, emollients, and occlusives. Hydrators and moisturizers are used in the skincare market to define the roles of different products.

Can Water Keep Skin Moisturized?

Your skin needs water in order to look and feel its best, but water by itself isn’t enough to hydrate or moisturize skin. Water will evaporate from the skin after washing it, and if you don’t apply a hydrator or moisturizer after washing your face, it may cause your skin to dry out and result in more damage than good. Therefore, it’s quintessential to follow with a hydrator or moisturizer or both after washing your face.

Do You Need a Hydrator or a Moisturizer?

You’re probably wondering which one your skin needs, a hydrator, moisturizer, or both. Technically speaking, your skin needs both to maintain a healthy appearance. If your skin type is dry, it’s understandable to believe that a moisturizer is all your skin requires to look radiant and youthful. However, there is a possibility that your skin is not really dry but dehydrated. If your skin is dehydrated, you’ll need to supply your skin with a hydrator along with a moisturizer to get the work done. You have to assess your skin’s condition, whether it’s dry, dehydrated, or both.

The outer surface of our skin has a natural lipid barrier or layer that acts as a shield against external elements and protects the skin from cell damage and moisture loss. If you observe your skin getting dry or flaky, it’s a clear indication that your skin isn’t synthesizing enough oils, which make up the protective lipid barrier. Consequently, the skin is unable to retain moisture and, hence, needs additional moisturization to stabilize the skin’s lipid layer. Moisturizers work to limit the amount of water that evaporates from the epidermal layer of the skin, along with sealing in moisture.

If you're struggling with dull skin and fine lines and wrinkles, it indicates dehydrated skin. Dehydrated skin is characterized by skin cells that lack water. A hydrator is going to do the job and restore your complexion. So, examine your skin thoroughly to choose the right product that will solve your skin woes.

Why Not Use Both a Hydrator and a Moisturizer?

You can apply a hydrator and a moisturizer to take care of all your skincare needs. You can first use a hydrator with humectant compounds, like glycerin or hyaluronic acid, and follow with a product containing occlusive or emollient ingredients to lock moisture in the skin and fortify the skin’s lipid barrier.¹

If you’re a minimalist and want to keep your skincare routine simple yet effective, look for a product that contains both humectants and occlusives or emollients.² Numerous skincare manufacturers are offering products, such as creams, lotions, masks, and gels that hydrate and moisturize the skin all in one product. 

At Sundree, we believe that skincare doesn’t need to be complex and less is more. We have crafted effective skincare products to simplify your skincare routine. Our RYSE+SHYNE Hydrating Facial Serum is packed with hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, aloe, and CBD to hydrate skin while improving skin's texture. This serum can be applied day and/or night to give you that healthy, happy skin.

Which One Is Better According to Your Skin Type?

It can be challenging to choose a product that will work for you when there are so many skincare products to choose from.

  • For Dry Skin: A moisturizer with a thicker consistency is an excellent choice. A thick formula will create a protective coating on the skin, preventing water loss and locking in moisture. Some of the ingredients to look for in your moisturizer are squalene, shea butter, and rose hip oil.
  • For Oily Skin: Oily skin needs an ample amount of hydration and moisturization. Oily and dehydrated skin can cause your lipid glands to produce more oil and worsen your skin problems. Water and gel-based hydrating and moisturizing products are best suited for oily skin. Look for lightweight and non-comedogenic products with glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, grapeseed oil, salicylic acid, or jojoba oil.³
  • For Normal Skin: You can apply any hydrating and moisturizing product that works for you or help alleviate occasional skin problems. Glycerin, hyaluronic acid, ceramides, shea butter, and AHAs are some great options to look for while buying your products.
  • For Dehydrated Skin: Dehydrated skin needs an additional dose of water to restore the water level in the cells. A serum with hydrating agents is your best bet to get the work done. Serums have the incredible power of retaining vast amounts of water back into the skin. Hyaluronic acid, honey, and aloe vera are some of the hydrators you should try.

How to Know if the Product is a Hydrator or a Moisturizer?

By now, we know that you need to add both a hydrator and a moisturizer to your skincare regimen to keep your skin sufficiently hydrated and moisturized. Also, the types of products you select depend on your skin type and specific skin issues. But how to know if the product you’re looking at is a hydrator or a moisturizer? Many skincare products contain both hydrating and moisturizing ingredients. But if you’re a skincare enthusiast experimenting with single ingredients, you need to know what each product contains.

Below is a list of commonly found hydrating and moisturizing compounds in skincare products to help you determine if you’re using the right ingredients:



Aloe vera

Hyaluronic Acid


Lactic acid

Citric acid

Marine extracts

Glycolic acid




Shea butter


Jojoba oil

Rosehip oil

Argan oil

Cocoa butter



Many of us are unclear whether our skin needs a hydrator or a moisturizer for optimal functioning and appearance. The good news is that most skincare products are formulated with both hydrating and moisturizing ingredients to perform both jobs simultaneously. However, it’s better to look into different ingredients and experiment to see which ingredients work best with your skin. Then, depending on your individual skin’s reaction and demands, you can opt for a hydrator, a moisturizer, or both.



  1. Chadwick, Melanie Rud. (2021). ‘This Is Why Emollients Are the Secret to Getting Rid of Dry Skin’, Byrdie. Accessed January 12, 2022. Available at:
  2. Franzino, April. (2020). ‘What Are Humectants in Skincare? Beauty Scientists Explain’, Goodhousekeeping. Accessed January 13, 2022. Available at:
  3. Adcox, Mariah. (2017). ‘The health and beauty benefits of grapeseed oil’, MedicalNewsToday. Accessed January 12, 2022. Available at:



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