If you're just getting started with your skincare journey, chances are you don't know yet what to buy and what to do with all the products available on the market.

Sometimes, you might have even interchanged them, especially with a hydrator and moisturizer. What are they, and which one does your skin really need? Does it make a difference at all?

People often confuse hydrators and moisturizers for one another's functions and outcomes. Although the importance of ensuring your skin is getting enough water is dealt with by both skin care products, their differences may require you to choose one over the other to address your particular skin type. 

A woman smiles directly at the camera with a skin care product on her cheek. (Photo : Cheyenne Doig/Unsplash)

Moisturization: Forming Skin Barrier

To start, what is moisturization? Youtuber and Doctor of Pharmacy Arsalan Aspires explained in his YouTube video that moisturization involves securing and sealing in moisture.

It will help strengthen the skin's protective barrier, maintain the skin's softness and smoothness, and stop water loss. Moisturizers contain these two main ingredients: occlusives to block the evaporation of water and emollients to make the skin feel smooth. 

Hydration: Bringing Water to Skin

Now, what is hydration? Aspires defined hydration as the content of water within the cells themselves, which gives your skin a plump, bouncy appearance. 

Hydration enhances your skin's capacity to take in moisture and nourishment. Humectants are among the substances found in hydrators, which aid in bringing water to the skin. 

What Does Your Skin Need?

Dry, flaky skin: If you are prone to dry and flaky skin, that indicates that your skin is having difficulty locking in moisture. In this case, you are in need of a moisturizer. 

Dull skin: If your skin is dull and starting to show signs of wrinkling, that means your skin is dehydrated, and a hydrator is what you would want to pick. 

Oily skin: You might assume that having oily skin eliminates the need for both moisturizer and hydrator. However, having oily skin does not always imply that you do not have dehydrated skin. In this situation, a hydrator might be a wiser option.

However, it is often difficult for people with oily skin to keep moisture in their skin because they frequently have compromised barrier function. That is why you may also want to add water-based moisturizer into your routine.

Sensitive skin: Hydrators with mild humectants might be better if you have sensitive skin to prevent irritation. 

If your goal is simply to have smooth and well-hydrated skin that retains moisture, then you may opt for a moisturizer and a hydrator. Integrating both these products into your daily skin care regimen is extremely helpful in achieving healthier and better skin.