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Moisturizer vs. Hydrator

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Author: Mary Gillespie

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The presence of oil defines a moisturizer from a hydrator.


Moisturizers, have two basic formulas.

  • Oil in water
  • Water in oil

Hydrators

 

This visual description for moisturizers is elementary, but effective.

Oil-in-water formula ...

  • Imagine a swimming pool filled with water … on the diving board is droplet of oil. When the droplet of oil dives into the pool of water it becomes an oil-in-water formula. This formula is a very light liquid, or lotion, and does not feel heavy on your skin. The majority of the formula is water which may evaporate leaving a small amount of oil, or the formula may have an agent binding the water to your skin.
  • Skin needing a very small amount of oil and plenty of water is comfortable.

Water-in-oil formula, the reverse.

  • A droplet of water dives into a pool of oil making the majority of the formula oil. These are heavy products, usually thick creams, and only comfortable on very dry skin.
  • Your skin can have good water content, but your oil glands are not producing enough oil, and need help from your skin care.

What does this mean to me?

  • If you have oily skin, or oily and dry in some areas called combination skin, you don’t want to add more oil with a skin care product making your skin greasy in a few hours. Water giving hydrators are best … your body will supply the needed oil for your protective acid mantle while your hydrator takes care of surface dehydration.  Surface dehydration is often caused by air travel, stripping agents like rubbing alcohol, wind and sun, or heating and air conditioning units, to name a few.   Applying a moisturizer or hydrator only to your dry areas can help.
  • Deep dehydration occurs in the second major layer of your skin called the dermis, often noticeable by temporary, tissue-paper wrinkles around your eyes.
  • Strong diuretic pills, alcohol, excessive sweating (saunas), and other internal or external dehydrating aggravators are depleting water from your dermis where your body stores water.
  • Hydrating skin care products do little to alleviate this since the water content needs to be replaced internally by drinking water. Surface dehydration can be corrected with good products, extending surface hydration for days, or weeks if applied in consecutive days. Less expensive products add, or bind water to the skin's surface only for a short time, or the duration of wearing the product.


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