Skincare Heidi; The Hydration Equation

Updated: Mar 31

Welcome to my website! I'm Heidi, I'm a Skincare Coach, and I want to help you achieve the skin you've always wanted. BEGIN HERE to find out all about me and what a Skincare Coach can do for you. I love helping my buddies with Skincare, but I'm not a healthcare professional, an aesthetician, an influencer or a guru - I'm more of a nerd who loves to chat all things skincare. I work independently: I don't accept gifts from brands or have affiliate links. All my followers are real people, and I'm no one's ambassador. I don't use filters or fillers (but I don't judge those who do). If you like what you see and you want to support me, you can JOIN my community or HIRE ME to be your coach. Or just read, share and enjoy!

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PLEASE NOTE: This article represents my own method - the information and techniques in this article may not be suitable for everyone - please do not substitute anyone else's judgment for your own. Always Patch Test and always take the time to allow your skin to gradually acclimate to any new product.

Hello Skincare Buddies!

Today I'm going to take a close look at a part of skincare that is very near and dear to my heart: HYDRATION.

We all know that our bodies, and therefore our skin, is made up mostly of water. Your skin wants to be juicy, plump and well hydrated. This post reviews the separate steps that work together to get that water into your skin, and how to hold it there!


Humectant + Moisture (water) + Occlusive = plump, toned & even skin

Yes, that's it! The secret to skin that bounces back when you poke it, that's free from fine lines, that's elastic and toned, that's comfortable, and is the best version of itself.

If your skin is dehydrated it's unlikely you'll ever feel completely happy with your skin. Hydration provides a cushion which gives a smooth appearance.

Hydration isn't just a single step like an active or even a moisturiser. It's more of a way of looking at your skin and understanding where you're at - what I call ASSESING YOUR SKIN. And then it's a matter of finding the right products and technique for getting the moisture into your skin and making sure it stays there!

I've covered the difference between dryness and dehydration already, but mostly everyone can benefit from having a good plan for hydration, whatever the state of your skin. Let's go ahead and take a look at the individual components of the hydration equation.


Humectants are ingredients that help to hold water within the skin. Humectants don't provide the hydration, they hold the hydration. You can think of it as a sponge, or as dry spaghetti - not much good until you get that water into it! Basically, these molecules attract water. If you want your skin to hold onto the hydration you add to your skin, it will last longer if there is a humectant holding it in place. There are lots of ingredients with humectant properties, but here are the ones you'll commonly see in your skincare:

💦 The most obvious example of a commonly used humectant is Hyaluronic Acid (HA). HA is naturally occurring within the body and comes in various forms: gels, serums, and, if you read your INCI, you'll find it hiding in many of your skincare products. You may be aware that it can hold up to 1000x it's own weight within the skin, meaning that one drop of 2% HA serum can hold about 20 equivalent drops (roughly 4-5 skins) of hydration within the skin. This goes to show that you really don't need to go overboard with this ingredient to get great hydration.

HA can be irritating for some, so keep that in mind if you're having any barrier issues.

💦 Other common humectants are Glycerine and Urea. These are gentle ingredients that are also good value so they can be found in many products, especially Glycerine. Both of these will help to hold onto hydration within the skin.

💦 The Ordinary (TO) also offers Marine Hyaluronics (MH), a humectant with less potential for irritation than HA, and a nice watery formula. TO claim that MH functions in the same way as the HA serum, although it's not as clear how to calculate the amount of hydration it holds. I would judge a *dose* to be the standard TO 3-4 drops. It is lovely because it's not just humectant, but hydrating as well, so it's okay to use more than one dose, unlike HA serums, which tend to get sticky.

💦 HYDRATING TONERS/ESSENCES. These are mainly Korean or Japanese Beauty products that are formulated with humectants to hold the water within the skin. Some are more concentrated and you only need to use a small amount and most, but not all, contain humectants. You need to check the ingredient to see if you need to add moisture elsewhere in your routine. The formulas can vary from watery to serum-like, to light emulsions. These are the products that are most closely associated with the 7 Skins Method - a Korean technique for adding multiple layers of hydration into the skin.


H2O. WATER. Aqua. Yes, that's what hydration means: Water content within the skin. It fills your cells, lubricates the tissues and helps actives to penetrate. Water helps products to do their job more effectively by drawing them into the skin rather than sitting on the surface of the skin. It will also plump fine lines, and it makes your skin more comfortable in general.

💦 WATER. Water can be just that: the water that gets into your skin from cleansing or bathing. Thermal water sprays. Water-based hydrators and mists. And yes, tap water - although you should consider the hardness/softness of the water where you live (London has particularly hard water, I had to be careful using tap water on my face when I lived there and I always rinsed with Rosewater). You can check your water hardness online in most places.

💦 ROSEWATER. The best Rosewaters are pure distilled rosewater and nothing else. Rose petals are macerated, soaked in water and then distilled (boiled and the steam is collected) which yields a very pure product. I love Rosewater so much that I wrote A Love Letter to Rosewater. This article details how to find and use pure, inexpensive food-grade Rosewater.

There are also *beauty* type Rosewaters that have added ingredients, sometimes glycerine (ok) or perfumes (not great). I generally avoid these anyway as they are more expensive and don't really offer any additional value. The beauty of rosewater is that it's cheap and you can splash it with abandon without counting the pennies.

💦 HYDROSOLS. Rosewater is a Hydrosol, but they can be made from other botanicals as well. Orange Blossom water is often for sale alongside Rosewater. Personally I use both interchangeably but some people with sensitive skin can find Orange Blossom more likely to cause reactions. Other flower waters, or Hydrosols, are available at specialist stores and can also make a lovely addition to your routine.