The Difference Between Hydrators and Moisturizers


In the battle against stressed skin and premature aging, hydration is the key. From the inside out, maintaining body hydration is critically important. 

Lack of water in the skin can lead to dryness, tightness, and flaking. Your overall tone and complexion may appear uneven, and fine lines become even more noticeable.

Avoiding dehydration 

  • Drink plenty of water – We recommend drinking half your body weight in ounces for a realistic intake. So, for example, if you weigh 120lbs, drink 60oz of water daily. 
  • Eat water-heavy fruits and vegetables
  • Limit alcohol use
  • Limit caffeine intake
  • Use a hydrator, moisturizer, or oil to restore proper barrier function (or combine these!)

Dehydrated skin vs. dry skin

Whether you should use a hydrator or a moisturizer in your skincare routine largely depends on your individual skin type.

Sings of dehydrated skin include:

  • Itchiness
  • Dullness
  • Dark under-eye circles
  • Sunken eyes
  • “Shadows” around the face
  • Increased incidence or appearance of fine lines and surface wrinkles

Signs of dry skin include:

  • Scaly skin
  • White flakes
  • Redness
  • Irritation

Both hydrators (binds water to the skin) and moisturizers (locks in hydration to restore and enhance skin barrier function)  work toward the same end – getting enough water to prevent or heal dry, tight, and dehydrated skin. Brands can use the words interchangeably, which leads to some confusion about when to use each type. The big difference between ‘moisturizing’ and ‘hydrating’ products is how they work.


A hydrator 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. Hyaluronic acid is probably the best example of a hydrator.


Moisturizers are emulsions of oil and water that help replenish hydration, keeping moisture in the skin and dryness out. All skin types can benefit from a moisturizer.

A lot of the time people misuse information or don’t have an accurate idea of what their skin needs. If you’re unsure, seek advice from an esthetician who can provide you with a guide to their skin and what’s right to use.

If your skin is dehydrated

Try a hydrating serum for stressed and dehydrated skin. Look for one with a high hyaluronic acid content, which retains 1,000 times its weight in water. Some products combine hyaluronic acid with other ingredients to fight additional skin concerns. 

The U.SK Under Skin Precious Elixir is adored by dermatologists and patients alike for its super hydrating formula. It also offers protection against environmental stressors such as solar radiation, wind, and dry air.   

The gold infusion revitalizes the texture of the skin tissue, leaving your skin looking bright and fresh. The diamond infusion promotes cell renovation and restores necessary skin hydration, which gives you extra protection against the elements. The high volume of protein and vitamins provided by the pearl and caviar promotes cell renovation, which will reduce the gradual appearance of wrinkles and give your skin a more uniform texture.  

The U.SK Under Skin Precious Elixir can be found in The Box by Dr. Ava: Skincare Heroes Limited Edition

If your skin is dry

 If you have dry skin year-round, a tried and true closet staple is your best bet for healing. Research shows that petroleum jelly is one of the most effective treatments for dry, cracked skin. It sits on top of the skin and forms a barrier that prevents water from leaving the skin. 

The downside of petroleum products is that they are thick and greasy. 

If you have oily skin

If you have oily skin, try water-based hydrators and moisturizers. Retinol serums with hyaluronic acid give a much-needed boost of water to the skin, while lightweight moisturizers help lock in hydration and protect the skin.

Combination skin

What if your skin is both dehydrated and dry? Well, you can use moisturizing and hydrating products together to fight both skin issues, but application order matters.

Pro-Tip: apply lighter-weight hydrating products first. Apply a serum to deliver water to your cells, followed by a heavy moisturizer to lock it in. 


Hydration and moisture are the building blocks of great skin. Achieving younger-looking skin starts with hydration from the inside out. Eat well, drink plenty of water, and limit caffeine and alcohol. Choose a hydrating or moisturizing product that meets the specific needs of your skin type. And when in doubt – use both. Your skin always needs it.


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