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Hydrating vs. Moisturizing: What's The Difference?

It’s easy to call cracked or peeling skin dry and just leave it at that. But just because your face feels like the Sahara Desert doesn’t mean it’s simply dry. Your skin might actually be dehydrated, meaning it lacks water and needs to be hydrated, whereas dry skin lacks oil and needs to be moisturized. This might seem like a minor distinction, so allow us to break it down for you!

How can I tell if my skin is dry?

  • Your entire body feels dry, and you constantly need moisturizer
  • You have no natural sebum (oil)
  • Your skin feels dull, flaky, itchy, and tight

How can I treat dry skin?

People with dry skin are more susceptible to signs of aging, so it’s extremely important to keep your body moisturized head to toe! Be strategic in how you are moisturizing. Dr. Sandra Lee’s best skin hack is keeping body lotion in the shower and applying it while skin is still damp. This helps lock in moisture before that water evaporates. SLMD’s Glycolic Acid Body Lotion has Glycolic Acid that exfoliates, removing the layer of dry, dead skin that can make our skin appear more “ashy” and moisturizing ingredients like Shea Butter. On your face, using a moisturizer like SLMD’s Facial Moisturizer, which contains antioxidants like Vitamin C, will benefit your overall complexion, boosting collagen production and protecting the skin from environmental stressors. 

In addition, be sure to layer on plenty of SPF (regardless of the season) as sun exposure can further irritate dry skin. SLMD's Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15 is broad spectrum and easy to incorporate into your daily routine.

How can I tell if my skin is dehydrated?

  • Your skin feels oily and dry simultaneously
  • Your skin tends to change texture based on your environment, the products you use, and your diet. 
  • You tend to break out occasionally and unexpectedly. 
  • Your skin is dull, congested, and flakes easily. 

If you’re still not convinced — try the pinch test! Pinch your skin between two fingers. If it bounces back (meaning it lays flat again) right away, you’re hydrated. If it takes longer to fall, it’s likely you’re dehydrated. It’s also important to note that your skin doesn’t have to be fall into the dry skin type to be dehydrated. Combination and oily skin types can also experience dehydration.

How can I treat dehydrated skin?

For starters, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water each day. Avoid washing your face with extra hot water, which can dry out your skin by opening your pores and allowing moisture to escape your body. Stick to a comfortable luke-warm temperature, so you're not stripping your skin of its natural moisture. Then, make sure you’re utilizing water-rich topical products to hydrate your complexion in addition to your usual moisturizer. SLMD's Hyaluronic Acid Serum is a great combination hydrator, made with Hyaluronic Acid and Squalane, which are ideal ingredients when it comes to treating parched skin. 


Drinking plenty of water will help your skin shine from the inside out, regardless of whether your skin is dry or dehydrated. Consuming healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, salmon and nuts, which are high in omega-3, also improves the overall health of your skin, and should be something you’re doing regardless of whether you’re feeling extremely dry or dehydrated!

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