If we asked you to describe what your skin looked like at its very best, chances are good that skin hydration would factor in somehow. On average, the skin contains roughly 30% water—this unsuspecting molecule is involved in everything from maintaining elasticity to keeping the skin smooth, firm, and plump. Proper hydration is, quite simply, essential for healthy-looking skin.
That being said, maintaining hydrated skin is sometimes easier said than done since a wide range of stressors can lead to water loss. Naturally, this begs the question: What’s the best way to hydrate the skin? Your lifestyle plays a huge role but so does skincare. Here, we’ll explore why facial hydration is key for healthy-looking skin and teach you how to hydrate your skin with our favorite products. Get ready to drink it all in and read on for the ultimate Kiehl’s guide to getting—and maintaining—hydrated skin.
Why Is Skin Hydration Important?
Water is a key component of the skin’s natural moisture barrier, your body’s first defense between you and the outside world. Without enough water, your skin can become dehydrated, leaving your skin barrier less able to protect you from potentially damaging external stressors like air pollution and harsh weather.
Over time, this dehydration can lead to a wide range of skin concerns, from dryness and sensitivity to visible premature aging. Without sufficient water, the skin’s ability to bounce back—in other words, its resiliency—diminishes. Wrinkles may appear more pronounced, and you may notice your skin looks rough and dull. Dehydration can also push your skin’s oil production into overdrive, which may lead to clogged pores and blemishes. In short: Without enough water, your skin may not look or feel its best.
How To Hydrate Skin: 5 Essential Tips
A proper skincare routine can help keep your skin sufficiently hydrated. Keep reading to discover our top tips and favorite products for maintaining hydrated, healthy-looking skin.
Use a Gentle, Non-Drying Cleanser
Daily cleansing is a non-negotiable for healthy-looking skin, but to maintain hydration, it’s important to choose the right cleanser. Look for one that’s non-drying and suitable for all skin types, such as our iconic Ultra Facial Cleanser. Formulated with squalane, this mild face wash gently removes dirt and other impurities without stripping the skin of essential moisture. The pH-balanced cleanser also helps maintain the skin’s natural protective barrier, making it an ideal first step in your gentle skincare routine.
Ultra Facial Hydrating Concentrated Cleansing Bar
Another great option for all skin types is our Ultra Facial Hydrating Concentrated Cleansing Bar. The gentle facial bar soap moisturizes and helps hydrate while cleansing, leaving the skin feeling clean and comfortable. Plus, the 99% biodegradable formula is ultra-portable—stash it in your bag when you travel to help keep your skin clean and hydrated no matter where you go.
Add Moisture With a Hydrating Toner
An easy way to give your skin a bit of moisture is with an alcohol-free facial toner. Our pick: Ultra Facial Toner. Made with avocado oil, apricot kernel oil, and vitamin E, this non-stripping toner refines and comforts skin. Like the aforementioned cleansers, it’s also pH-balanced and suitable for all skin types. Apply it after cleansing—either by splashing it directly onto your face or swiping it on with a clean cotton round—for balanced, hydrated skin.
Reach For Humectant Ingredients
Hydro-Plumping Hydrating Serum
In skincare, there are three main types of moisturizers: emollients, occlusives, and humectants. While they can all be used to help hydrate and nourish the skin, humectants such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin are particularly useful for drawing water into the skin. You’ll find the latter in our Hydro-Plumping Hydrating Serum, a lightweight daily serum designed for dehydrated skin. The gentle formula plumps and deeply hydrates the skin, leaving it looking smoother and more even. Plus, it’s gentle enough for all skin types and can even be used around the eye area. We recommend applying one pump to your face while your skin is still damp to help give your skin the hydration it craves.
Moisturize Twice Daily
For well-hydrated skin, moisturizing is a must in the morning and at night. Which type of moisturizer you use is largely a matter of personal preference—some are more lightweight, while others provide more intensive moisture. Generally speaking, heavier, oil-based formulas are ideal for those with drier skin types, and lotions and gel moisturizers are better suited for oily or combination skin.
There are also moisturizers suitable for all skin types, such as our cult-classic Ultra Facial Cream with Squalane. The iconic formula, which is our #1 best-selling face cream worldwide, delivers up to 24 hours of lightweight hydration for soft, smooth skin. It also helps restore and protect the skin’s natural moisture barrier. The gentle face cream can be used morning and night for a hydrated, healthy appearance.
For those who prefer water-based or gel moisturizers, we suggest Calendula Serum-Infused Water Cream. Packed with concentrated calendula extract, this weightless gel cream helps soften and hydrate the skin, leaving it looking fresh and radiant. Over time, it helps diminish the appearance of various skin concerns, including redness, dullness, dry fine lines, and uneven texture.
Finally, don’t forget to hydrate your eye area, too—the skin here is thinner than the rest of your face and more vulnerable to external stressors. Our Avocado Eye Cream delivers all-day hydration and immediately improves the look and feel of under-eye skin texture. Additionally, it’s clinically-demonstrated to help brighten and de-puff the under-eye area.* Use it morning and night for long-lasting hydration.
*Results based upon expert grading evaluated with product in a four-week clinical test.
Try a Hydrating Face Mask
If you feel like your skin is in need of a little extra TLC—maybe it’s been cold and windy out, or you’ve been taking one too many steamy showers—try adding moisture with a face mask. At Kiehl’s, we have a few options that are great for replenishing dehydrated skin. Those looking for a quick boost can try Avocado Nourishing Hydration Mask, which is made with avocado oil, avocado extract, and evening primrose oil. The rich, creamy formula helps seal in moisture, leaving the skin softer and measurably more hydrated in just 15 minutes.* Use it three times per week or as needed to help nourish and condition your skin.
*Hydration & barrier tests on 26 subjects, results vs. baseline.
For intensive moisture, we suggest Ultra Facial Overnight Hydrating Mask with 10.5% Squalane. Designed for dry skin but suitable for all skin types, this overnight mask helps stabilize the moisture barrier to improve the skin’s resilience against dehydrating external stressors. It has a unique balm-to-oil formula that helps prevent overnight moisture loss and dryness for up to three days. You can use the non-comedogenic mask up to three nights per week as an intensive overnight treatment or as a quick 15-minute treatment as needed to help nourish and hydrate especially dry areas.
Next: Now that you’re caught up on how to hydrate your skin, learn how to do the same for your mane in our article Moisturize Parched Strands With This Routine For Dry Hair.