Hydrating is more than just slapping on some cream on the skin after you are done with your cleansing routine. To ensure you are moisturizing your skin properly, you have to use the right product for the skin’s unique needs. The best moisturizers are formulated to address specific needs that target oil, sensitivity, dryness, and everything in between.
What is your skin type?
Before you go ahead and choose the best moisturizer for your skin type, you need to clearly understand what skin type you have. For instance, if your skin starts to feel dry by the onset of midday, it means that you have dry skin. On the other hand, if your skin is oily by noon and you have enlarged pores on your t-zone, you likely have oily skin. For those with combination skin, they will experience dryness on cheeks and oiliness on the t-zone – it is a difficult skin type to deal with. Moreover, any of these skin types can also be sensitive or acne-prone, both of which require gentle products free of common irritants. Keep in mind that your skin type can change throughout your life, and even from season to season.
Do you actually need to moisturize?
For the majority, the answer is yes. Even though your body has its own natural lubricating system consisting of glands that secrete oil (or sebum) to maintain a protective coating against harsh outside conditions and infections, most of us do require extra hydration after the havoc that sun, weather and harsh chemicals wreak on our skin.
There are also some people who genetically lack the ability to keep the top layer of skin intact and are missing the necessary lipids to seal in moisture. Some medications (namely cholesterollowering agents and isotretinoin) can also affect the skin’s ability to adequately maintain hydration.
What should you look for in a moisturizer?
Moisturizers can be classified into humectants, emollients and occlusives. Humectants draw water into the top layer of the skin, while emollients help fill the cracks and seal in the water to provide a smooth, soft complexion. Occlusives provide a thicker protective barrier to prevent water loss. Most facial moisturizers have humectants and emollients acting in tandem, while occlusives are more beneficial on thicker parts of the body, such as hands, feet, elbows and knees.
When choosing a moisturizer, don’t forget to read the key ingredients carefully. Popular humectants include glycerin (or glycerol), hyaluronic acid, propylene glycol, urea, sorbitol and alpha hydroxy acids (such as glycolic and lactic acid). At high concentrations alpha hydroxy acids and urea soften the outer layer of the skin, leading to exfoliation. Common emollients are lanolin, mineral oil, ceramides, dimethicone, coconut oil and other plant-based oils. Occlusives include Shea butter, petrolatum, beeswax and paraffin, among others.
Regardless of what skin type you might have, sun protection is always an added advantage. If consult a dermatologist, they are likely to recommend moisturizers containing an SPF of 30 or more on a regular basis to protect the skin against harmful UV rays.
Take a look at which moisturizer is best suited for what skin type:
It can feel tight throughout the day, and you might notice scaly patches with cracks, peeling, and flakes as well. While genetics play a role in a perpetually-parched complexion, so do environmental factors such as extreme temperatures, hormones, and even the amount of sleep you get. That is why you need a moisturizer that supplies sufficient hydration and locks it in. It should contain super-hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and ceramides that help your skin retain moisture longer, while improving the moisture barrier over time.
A common misconception is that those with oily skin should use moisturizer sparingly, but that is assuredly not true. In fact, keeping your skin properly hydrated can help regulate how much oil it produces. When skin is dehydrated, it will often overcompensate by producing even more oil. Too much oil can lead to pores getting clogged, so you should look for moisturizers that are water-based and absorb excess oil. Check if the moisturizer is non-comedogenic, so it doesn’t clog pores, and non-acnegenic, which doesn’t cause acne, and ideally oil-free.
As mentioned, those with such skin types, often experience oiliness and dryness on different areas of the skin, so it is necessary to use products that aren’t too heavy but still substantial enough to help your skin retain moisture where it needs it. That is why you require light, balancing oil-free moisturizers that have a gel-like texture. For best results, use more moisturizer where you have dry skin and less in areas that are oily.
Managing sensitive skin can be a daunting task as it can take some time to figure out which ingredients might lead to a flare-up, and thus steer clear of them. To begin with, look for labels that identify formulas as non-irritating and non-sensitizing and are free of parabens, synthetic fragrances, alcohol, and mineral oil (these components generally tend to cause redness, itchy sensations, and bumps). The product needs to have a soothing effect after being applied.
When you are combating acne, whiteheads, clogged pores, and breakouts, you have to ensure the skin gets adequate moisture, because if you skip out on it altogether, the skin becomes excessively dry, which leads to more breakouts. Look for moisturizers that are lightweight, -free, and non-comedogenic. Stay away from products that alcohol and added fragrances, which are likely to cause irritation.
How to apply moisturizer properly?
The ideal time to apply a moisturizer for desired results is when the skin is still moist. After using a gentle cleanser, lightly pat your face damp, and then immediately apply a layer of moisturizer to lock in the hydration. You might not need to do it on a daily basis (depending upon skin type), but maintaining regularity is a must.
Now that you know about the various skin types and suitable products, you can start navigating the different options out there and select the best moisturizer for your skin.
- ‘The Best Moisturizers for Different Skin Types’, The Trend Spotter, 14-May-2016. https://www.thetrendspotter.net/the-best-moisturizers-for-different-skin-types/ (accessed Mar. 28, 2020).