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How to Choose a Moisturizer

Your choice of moisturizing agent depends on the skin type you currently have. People with dry skin need a different type of moisturizer than people with oily skin or acne.

People with oily skin frequently avoid moisturizers. This frequently backfires because their skin will try to compensate for the missing moisture by producing even more oil.

As we age, we lose oil-producing glands and tend to have a drier facial skin.  This may also result from the accumulation of photodamage. In this case we need to choose a moisturizer that locks in water and maintains/strengthens the skin’s protective barrier.

Humectants, occlusives and emollients are three types of moisturizing ingredients; each one works in a different way.

  • Humectants are ingredients that attract and hold onto water molecules.
  • Emollients form a barrier to prevent water loss.
  • Occlusives prevent water loss by forming a hydrophobic barrier over the skin.


Specific ingredients in moisturizing products are (1) glycerin, a humectant; (2) hyaluronic acid, another humectant; (3) shea butter – an emollient that lowers inflammation and keeps the moisture already present in your skin and (4) petrolatum – an occlusive – it locks in the moisture.

Other components of moisturizing agents include squalene (emollient, lipid-like) and ceramides (restore lipids and preserve the skin barrier function).

Certain types of moisturizers are best for specific skin types based on their consistency and ingredient lists:

  1.  Dry skin:  An emollient cream packed with hydrators can be the most beneficial for dry, dehydrated skin. Add ceramides as a bonus.
  2.  Oily skin:  an oil-free, non-comedogenic moisturizer is likely more tolerable for those with oily, acne-prone skin.
  3. Acne-prone skin: light moisturizers free of oils and pore-clogging ingredients for those prone to breakouts. Avoid  emollients.
  4. Some patches of oily skin, with patches of dry skin. Choose a “middle of the road” humectant with hyaluronic acid and glycerin, but avoid the occlusives and heavy emollients.


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