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hydration and moisturisation aren’t the same, and here’s the tea about it!

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What is hydration?

Hydration is basically just water flushed into skin cells. A well-functioning skin cell needs enough water to maintain its cell structure and absorb all the nutrients that your skincare products have to offer. Hence, hydrated skin cells will make your skin look plumper and minimise the appearance of pores. Dehydrated skin will instantly look dry, flaky, tight, red, and dull due to deflated skin cells.

Dehydration and dry skin sound the same but they’re not. Learn more about the difference between dehydrated and dry skin here!

To hydrate your skin, you need to drink around 2-3 litres of water, and this changes depending on your height and weight. You can also include hydrating ingredients aka. Humectants can absorb water from the surroundings and infuse it into your skin cells. Some of the most known humectants are-

Of course, water is a hydrator too but then it evaporates soon and so we resort to these ingredients for topical application. It’s not just your skin that needs hydration for proper functioning, but your whole body. So hydrate from within, you can include Watermelon, Cucumber, Berries, etc in your diet.

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What is moisturisation?

Moisturisation is what you need after applying a humectant. Moisturiser helps you seal the water and create a barrier to prevent the loss of water from your skin. A good moisturiser will help you reduce the dryness and inflammation that you may experience if you lose hydration. Moisturisers could be Emollient or Occlusive. Occlusives are a bit heavier on the skin and can be a good option as a sleeping mask to wake up with radiant skin. Moisturiser that has Ceramides in it can be great to restore your skin barrier.

Some of the most common types of Emollients are-

  • Shea butter
  • Cacao butter
  • Coconut butter

For Occlusives, you can search for products that have-

  • Squalane
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Beeswax
  • Lanolin

Learn more about the difference between Humectants, Occlusives, and Emollient here.

For those with acne-prone skin type, might want to consult a dermatologist before opting for an occlusive moisturisers. Looking at the bigger picture, one must try to nourish their body from within too. So along with the topical application of moisturiser, you can opt for a diet rich in Nuts, Coconut, Olives, Avocado, etc.

How do you know if your skin needs hydration or moisturisation?

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That question makes no sense because regardless of the skin type that you’re staying in, your skin needs both. Especially hydration. Some products have humectants and moisturisers, both. The endpoint of both is to hydrate your skin. But to know which one suits best for your skin is by knowing how our skin drinks water. Let’s look at some common skin concerns and whether a hydrator or a moisturiser can help you fit the bill-

1. For dehydrated skin

Your skin cells need an instant boost of hydration to lift your cells. You must opt for a hydrator. If you keep the skin dehydrated for a long time, it may even produce excess oil that can clog your pores. We recommend a serum that has Hyaluronic Acid- a humectant that can hold water 1,000 times its weight. This means instant supple skin!

    Sublime recommends SkinPot.Co Intense-Repair Hydration Serum. It has Vitamin C, Copper Peptide, and Hyaluronic Acid that works perfectly together to leave you with intensely hydrated skin.

    2. For dry skin

    So this means you have not just lost moisture but also have a compromised skin barrier. So you need to work on restoring your barrier and hydrating your skin. For this skin concern, a moisturiser with ceramides works really well. Ceramides form a major part of the composition of the skin barrier and also help in maintaining skin structure.

      Sublime recommends Dear, Klairs Rich Moist Soothing Cream that has Yeast-derived Beta-glucan, Jojoba oil, & Ceramides to restore your skin barrier and deeply moisturise your skin.

      3. For dry and dehydrated skin

      Your skin lacks hydration and Ceramides that form the major part of your skin barrier. You can opt for a cocktail of hydrator and moisturiser or layer moisturiser on top of a humectant. Either way, you must include both. 

        Sublime recommends Dr. Sheth's Haldi & Hyaluronic Acid Sleeping Mask. Along with Turmeric and Hyaluronic Acid, it also has a blend of Ceramides, Cica, Squalane, Marula, and Evening Primrose Oil which is perfect to moisturise your skin overnight.

        How to pick the right hydrator and moisturiser?

        To pick the right ingredient can be the tricky part. Especially if you are of sensitive skin type. You must visit a dermatologist to confirm that a particular ingredient is good for your skin but otherwise, for everyday use, you can use products that are not too strong. The aim is to hydrate and prevent the loss of hydration from your skin. To pick the right product, you must read the ingredient list regardless of what the product is labeled as. Certain brands include hydrators in a moisturiser and vice versa.

        To pick the right hydrator, understand what works well with your skincare routine products and weather. Something with water-y or gel-like consistency can sit well with your skincare routine without making you feel like you’ve overtly layered your skin. Those with sensitive skin types must opt for water-y consistency since that can help you avoid overwhelming your skin.

        Sublime recommends Daughter Earth Succulent Gel Moisturiser With Kombucha Essence+Plant Stem Cell Extracts. It has probiotics, hydrators like Aloe vera, and berry extracts that can also fight blue light damage since berries are loaded with Antioxidants.

        For those with dry skin types, you need a moisturiser regardless of the weather. So you can use an emollient every day but in chilly weather, you can switch to an occlusive moisturiser that can create a thick barrier between your skin and the environment to prevent loss of moisture.

        Sublime recommends Detoxie Anti-Stress & Hydrating Youth Preserve Moisturiser. It has a mix of healthy oils like Olive and Almond oil to moisturise your skin and also Japanese Matcha Tea extracts to fight free radical damage. Who’s gonna stop you now from glowing!

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        For those who are on treatment products and have matured, textured skin, your skin needs a bit more than the others to repair and sustain. You can layer a hydrator with a moisturiser on chilly days or when your skin has gone through a lot of stress. You can also do this after a facial. On usual days, you can pick a product that has both moisturiser and humectant in equal quantity to lock in moisture.


        Sublime recommends Aminu Wisest Counsellor Bio-Retinol Cream. You might not need anything else if you are using this bottle. It is such a ‘have-it-all’ girl in the skincare world. It has Niacinamide, humectants, plant-derived oil like Meadowfoam Seed Oil, Cotton Seed Oil, Shea Butter, Macadamia Seed Oil to moisturise, and also Bakuchiol oil which is a plant-based derivative of Retinol.

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        Hydration and moisturisation differ in their mode of action. While a hydrator will help you draw in water to your skin cells, moisturiser helps you prevent losing that water from your skin cells by creating a barrier. On most days, your skin needs both to look plump and radiant. However, picking the right hydrator or moisturiser for your skin depends on the weather around you. The key message in all of this is just that your skin needs both- hydration and moisturisation from the inside out.

        -Nishita Tahalramani

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