Moisturizer – it’s such a staple in our daily skincare routine, that almost all of us have been using it since birth. So why is it actually so important to keep our skin moisturized? Besides preventing dull, flakey skin, regularly moisturizing can help prevent wrinkles and aging in general, keep acne and oil production in check, while also giving skin a protective outer layer. So regardless of whether we have dry, sensitive, normal, or oily skin, we can all benefit from using a moisturizer, it’s just a matter of finding out which moisturizing agents best suit our skin type. It’s important to know that there are different types: emollients, humectants, and occlusives and choosing the ingredients that work best for your skin can make a world of difference.
Ingredients to look out for:
These work like a magnet, pulling moisture from the air into your top layer of skin. Some exfoliate the dried-out dead cells as well, leaving behind softer, smoother more-moisturized skin. Common humectants include: hyaluronic acid, alpha hydroxy acids (i.e. glycolic and lactic acid), glycerin and ceramides
A moisturizing ingredient that helps to fill cracks in dried skin and seal in moisture with an oily outer layer, emollients come in many forms, including creams, gels, lotions and ointments. They are very effective at restoring the skin barrier and are especially beneficial for dry, itchy skin suffering from eczema, psoriasis, and ichthyosis. Common emollients include: lanolin, mineral oil, coconut oil, shea butter, and isopropyl palmitate.
These provide the skin with an ultra thick protective seal that prevents water loss, while providing protection from outside irritants. Their thick, heavy consistency makes them ideal for severely dry skin, but less so for those suffering from acne. Common occlusives include: waxes, petrolatum, dimethicone, silicone and mineral oil
How do I choose the best moisturizer for my skin type?
Stick to moisturizing agents that hydrate and heal such as humectants. Opt for ceramides, hyaluronic, acid and glycerin and avoid products with alcohol or fragrance.
This skin type should also avoid any product with alcohol or fragrance because they tend to dry out skin. Your ideal moisturizer features a mix of emollients and humectants, which draw and seal moisture into the skin while protecting the skin’s barrier.
Oily or acne-prone skin
While those suffering from oily skin might try to avoid moisturizing, it’s when oily skin is dry that it tends to overproduce oil. Try to avoid harsh cleansers and toners, which will only ramp up production. Lighter gels, creams, and serums that are non-comedogenic or oil-free are your best best for moisturizing.
Applying your moisturizer correctly
To lock in the most hydration, it’s best to apply a moisturizer when skin is still moist. To do so, use a gentle cleanser, lightly pat face dry, and apply. If you're also using other serums or spot treatments, start with the lightest products and work your way up to the thickest. This is the best way to ensure the thicker products don’t prevent the effectiveness of thinner ones.
Other ways to keep skin hydrated
Keeping skin soft and smooth doesn’t stop with moisturizer. Leading a healthy lifestyle that includes staying hydrated, eating a nutrient-rich diet, avoiding smoking, and practicing sun safety is a great start. You can also keep your house cooler rather than warmer (since hot air tends to be drier), use a humidifier, take warm (not hot) showers accompanied by mild (not drying) soaps, wear looser fitting clothing, and bundle up in cold, windy environments.