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5 skincare terms that sound the same, but aren’t

Most words that sound alike also have similar meanings — just look at revive and revitalize. But that’s not always the case when it comes to skincare. For example, the simple addition of the letter “e” can entirely transform the meaning of the word silicon. And even though hydrating and moisturizing sound synonymous, they’re not as similar as you’d think. 

It sounds confusing, but we’re here to help you understand the differences between some of these similar skincare terms. Once you’re able to differentiate between them, addressing your specific skin issues will be much easier.

Silicon vs. Silicone
Silicon is a natural element found in the Earth’s crust, the human body, computer chips, and all Good Science Beauty products in the form of Good Silicon+™. In the human body, silicon is an essential micro mineral for human health, like zinc and iron. It helps maintain flexible joints, glowing skin, and stronger nails, teeth, hair, and bones.

Silicone, on the other hand, is a man-made chemical that behaves a lot like plastic, and can be found in adhesives, sealants, cooking molds, and kitchen utensils, among other items. Silicone is primarily used to refract line and when it comes to skincare and beauty products, it can be found in haircare, deodorants, sunscreens, and scar treatments.

Brightening vs. Lightening
Although these terms are often used together to describe specific skincare products, brightening refers to improving radiance, minimizing dullness of the skin, and allowing the skin to glow. Lightening, however, refers to the process of reducing pigmentation to whiten and reduce your skin’s natural pigment. 

Hydrating vs. Moisturizing
Hydrating refers to increasing the water content in the skin, which can be done with humectants, or ingredients that pull water out of the the air and into the skin. Moisturizing, on the other hand, locks in natural oils that already exist on the surface of the skin to minimize moisture loss. 

Polishing vs. Exfoliating
Polishing refers to the gentle removal of dead skin cells, while exfoliating refers to the harsher removal of dead skin cells either through abrasive scrubs or chemicals. Exfoliating can cause micro-tears that make your skin vulnerable to environmental damage, pollution, and sun damage, but polishing actually helps new skin cells regenerate.  

Masks vs. Creams
Masks and creams can contain similar ingredients, but the difference between a mask and a cream is how the ingredients are applied. Masks are designed to be left on the skin for a set amount of time. Masks are an effective way to deliver ingredients to the skin, but they’re not intended for daily use. Conversely, creams can generally be used day and night or even several times a day, and are not meant to be removed after application like masks.

Dry vs. Dehydrated
Dry refers to a lack of natural sebum, or oil, in the skin. This also means that there’s a lack of lipids, or fatty molecules, which help the skin retain moisture and act as a barrier to foreign bodies. Dehydrated, however, refers to a lack of water in the skin. Dry skin can appear flakey and irritated, while dehydrated skin can often feel rough and appear dull. Dry skin can be caused by improper skincare, medical conditions like eczema, or cold, harsh weather, and dehydration can occur from environmental stressors including weather, diet, and caffeine intake. 

Need help demystifying more skincare terminology? Tweet at @GSBLaboratories. Find more definitions on our ingredients page.