The 3 Different Types of Moisturizers, Explained

Different Types of Moisturizers

Moisturizers are at the center of your skincare routine. They have a defining role in how effective your skincare is. Surprisingly, most of us know very little about them. And because of that, we fail to find the right one for our skin type. This causes different issues for different skin types like greasy-looking skin or moisturizer pilling. To help you take control of your skincare, we’ll be deep-diving into all things face moisturizers. Keep reading to learn more about the different types of moisturizers and how to choose and use one.

What are moisturizers?

Moisturizers are skincare products formulated to hydrate and soften the skin. Face moisturizers come in different forms such as cream, lotion, or balm.

Moisturizers work by creating a thin layer of occlusion on the skin, which helps keep the water in, and protect it from external elements.

What are the skin benefits of moisturizers?

1. They Prevent Water Loss

Moisturizers treat and prevent transepidermal water loss, aka TEWL. It’s water evaporating from our skin. Moisturizers prevent it by hydrating the skin and coating it to keep the water in. As a result, they treat and prevent skin dryness and flakiness.

2. They Protect the Skin

By creating a thin layer of occlusion on the skin, moisturizers protect and support the skin barrier, which makes the skin more resilient and less prone to external skin aggressors.

3 They Soften the Skin

By moisturizing the top layer of the skin, moisturizers also soften skin texture, making it feel softer and look smoother and less flaky.

4. They Soothe the Skin

Moisturized skin is less prone to inflammation, irritation, or redness. So moisturizers are also helpful in soothing the skin, especially sensitive skin.

What are the different types of moisturizers?

There are three different types of moisturizers: humectants, emollients, and occlusives.

1. Humectants

Commonly known as humectant moisturizers, these types of moisturizers contain humectants like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, panthenol, sorbitol, or lactic acid (AHA).

Humectants hydrate by attracting water from the environment and binding it to the skin. They have a plumping effect on the skin, which is instantly visible.

Humectant moisturizers usually come in gel, jelly, or lotion form. And they’re suitable for all skin types but especially great for combination, oily, and acne-prone skin. That’s also why they make the best moisturizers for summer.

2. Emollients

Emollient moisturizers usually contain lipids and oils like ceramides, fatty acids, cholesterol, squalane, or jojoba oil. Emollients moisturizers soften and smooth the surface of the skin.

They lubricate, so to speak, the cracks of the skin. In doing so, they eliminate scaly and flaky skin. These are the ones that have barrier-improving benefits on the skin.

Emollient moisturizers hydrate the skin, keep the moisture in, and restore the lipids to repair the skin barrier function.

These moisturizers usually come in basic cream form, either very lightweight or thick cream. That’s why emollient moisturizers are suitable for all skin types.

3. Occlusives

Occlusive moisturizers form a physical barrier on the surface of the skin. The most common ingredients found in occlusive moisturizers are petroleum jelly, mineral oil, beeswax, and carnauba wax.

Occlusive moisturizers make it almost impossible for the skin to lose water. Because of that occlusion, they prevent water loss.

They usually come in a balm texture. On the other hand, this occlusion can feel heavy on the skin and isn’t cosmetically pleasing.

So occlusive moisturizers are more suitable for people with very dry skin, flaky skin, or irritated skin, or when the weather is cold and you need a winter moisturizer or something thick.

What is the best type of moisturizer for oily skin?

Humectant moisturizers and some emollient moisturizers usually work better for people with oily skin. Go for gel-based moisturizers, which tend to be humectant or water-based.

These moisturizers replenish oily skin without the heavy feel or the potential to clog pores or cause breakouts. As they contain mostly humectants, they’re super lightweight and absorb easily.

They are free of added oils and can contain non-comedogenic emollients like squalane to create a protective layer on the skin without smothering it or making it greasy.

What is the best type of moisturizer for dry skin?

Emollient moisturizers are the best ones for people with dry skin. They come in cream form and contain the necessary emollients and lipids to replenish dry skin.

These can be ceramides and fatty acids from shea butter or jojoba oil. The cream form will keep the skin hydrated for longer and also help with dry patches and flakiness.

What is the best type of moisturizer for normal skin?

Normal skin is the reference point. So, depending on your personal preference, you can go for different types of moisturizers.

But to be on the safer side, go for emollient creams that hydrate and moisturize with a little bit of everything. Keep it simple and keep it affordable. Go spend your money on a skincare device or something.

What is the best type of moisturizer for combination skin?

You can have dry/combination skin or oily/combination skin. And depending on that, you can pick your moisturizer for oily or dry skin.

However, as combination skin is extremely subjective, you can consider using two different moisturizers such as a gel one on the oily side and a cream one on the drier side.

If that gets confusing, look for balancing moisturizers that are made to regulate oil production without drying the skin.

What is the best type of moisturizer for sensitive skin?

Emollient moisturizers are usually the most suitable for people with sensitive skin. Humectants will usually lack the necessary ingredients to lock moisture in and soothe sensitivity.

Emollients in lotion or light cream form, or lightweight occlusive moisturizers will work better for people with sensitive skin. With that being said, the ingredients of your moisturizer are more important.

How do I apply moisturizer?

You need to apply your moisturizer on clean skin, even better if it’s damp. Damp skin absorbs better.

After washing your face and when your skin is damp, get a nickel-sized amount of moisturizer and warm it up in your hands.

Now that the cream is all over your hands, massage it into the face in an upward motion. Start from the cheeks and massage the cream upwards. Apply the rest on your forehead and finally, on your neck.

When do I apply moisturizer?

After washing your face, apply your toner, essence, and serum, and then apply your moisturizer. Moisturizer is thicker than those products.

Also, if it’s daytime, remember to apply sunscreen on top of your moisturizer. Additionally, you can use moisturizer twice a day in your morning and evening routine.

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