Your Shopping Bag is Currently Empty
Please LOGIN to view items you may have added using another computer or device.
Moisturizing is the foundation of a strong skincare routine. Most other steps vary by personal preference, but every regimen needs a way to protect skin from the elements, pollution and UV rays.
All that is fine until it comes to actually choosing one. How do you know which is the best moisturizer for your skin type? Which ingredients are important? And is there really a major difference in how all these different moisturizers work, anyway?
We've all accidentally blocked a beauty aisle staring at endless shelves of tubs and bottles, each of them promising to send dry skin packing for good. Finding the right product can make a world of difference in how your skin looks and feels. Luckily, there's a product for every possible skin type — you just need to know what to look for.
Back in high school biology class, you probably learned that skin is made up of different layers. The outermost layer, the stratum corneum, plays an important role in how your skin looks and feels — and, notably, it protects your skin from irritants.
Smooth, well-hydrated skin has a stratum corneum that's between 10% and 30% water, according to Harvard Medical School. Moisturizers give this external layer a little extra hydration and help it retain water, which keeps the outer layer of skin healthy, happy and free of uncomfortable cracks and inflammation. To do this, moisturizers typically rely on a combination of three main building blocks, along with water:
The exact formulation and ingredients you should be on the lookout for depend on your skin's unique needs. A moisturizer that's perfect for someone with oily skin probably isn't going to be hydrating enough for their friend with dry skin. And a moisturizer that cures one person's parched complexion in the driest winter months may leave someone with oily skin looking more than a little greasy.
Here's how to find the perfect moisturizer no matter your skin type.
Does your skin feel tight or flaky? Welcome to the world of dry skin. If you have a dry complexion, chances are your skin barrier allows a decent amount of moisture to escape. For some people, dry skin is just seasonal, thanks to cold, dry weather (Hello, winter skin!) or blazing summer sun. For others, parched is the name of the game year-round.
Your first instinct may be to replenish your skin with the thickest, goopiest moisturizer available, but not so fast! A few other considerations should go into your decision.The best moisturizer for dry skin will likely contain humectants — the previously mentioned "water magnets" like hyaluronic acid and glycerin that attract moisture. Hyaluronic acid, which is found naturally in the skin, draws moisture into its upper layer while glycerin gently soothes redness and irritation in addition to banishing flaky skin.
Oily skin can make it tempting to wash your face over and over again rather than apply a daily moisturizer. That's the best way to get rid of excess shine, right?
While it may seem counterintuitive, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, a good moisturizer could be exactly what your skin needs. The truth is that stripping your skin of oils, whether through excessive face washing or from drying ingredients like salicylic acid, prompts your body to create even more oil.While, to you, your face may feel greasy, your body notices the sudden lack of oil and thinks it's experiencing dry skin. In turn, it starts pumping out extra oil to make up for the loss. Keeping your skin properly hydrated may actually help manage the cycle of excess oil production.
The best face moisturizer for oily skin will be a lightweight product that doesn't feel heavy on your skin but still packs in the hydration. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends looking for a product that's oil free and non-comedogenic, meaning it won't clog pores.
Not only is your skin dry, but it also tends to itch, and become blotchy, burn or break out in rashes at the slightest provocation. Dry skin can be unpredictable when it's also sensitive, but the right moisturizer will keep skin balanced and calm.
Moisturizers for dry, sensitive skin need to be equally hydrating and nonirritating. (No, the sting doesn't just mean it's working.) Look for products that contain both emollients (like dimethicone), which help to repair your skin barrier, and humectants (like hyaluronic acid and glycerin), which attract and retain moisture.Since your skin may be sensitive to some ingredients, the American Academy of Dermatology suggests seeking out fragrance-free products and steering clear of anything with alcohol, retinoids or alpha hydroxy acids.
If it feels like everything from skincare ingredients to laundry detergents to environmental factors causes your skin to go into panic mode — red patches, stinging, burning, rashes, hives — your skin may be too sensitive for moisturizers that would otherwise be a fantastic match for your skin type.
According to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, moisturizers are key to protecting sensitive skin from inflammation and other symptoms of conditions like atopic dermatitis. But, while sensitive skin can be associated with dry skin, they don't always go hand in hand. You may not need a heavy moisturizer if your skin doesn't feel tight and dry.Instead, look for moisturizers labeled hypoallergenic, dye free and fragrance free — not just unscented. Unscented products may still feature fragrances to cover the smells of other ingredients in the product. Chamomile and aloe may also have calming benefits for sensitive skin.
If your skin is prone to acne, a moisturizer may be the last thing you want to include in your skincare routine. Trust us — moisturizer won't plug up your pores or cause more breakouts. In fact, regularly applying moisture soothes acne-prone skin and restores the skin barrier, actually preventing further breakouts.
According to The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, people with acne-prone skin may naturally have an uncooperative skin barrier. Add in factors like drying products (including popular acne remedies like benzoyl peroxide and retinoids) and the temptation to scrub acne-prone skin within an inch of its life, and even after breakouts have healed, this skin is more likely to be red, inflamed, flaky, irritated and dried out. And when your skin is dry, it makes up the difference by massively oversupplying oil — ultimately leading to more breakouts.It's no wonder that you may find it hard to continue with these treatments when your skin just doesn't feel great and the breakout cycle never seems to stop.
The good news? Moisturizing combats the skin barrier dysfunction caused by topical medications. To pick the best moisturizer for acne-prone skin, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends looking for moisturizers that are labeled oil free and noncomedogenic and that soothe dryness and irritation, making it easier to stick to acne treatments for the long haul.
Ever feel like your skin can't make up its mind? If your cheeks are dry but you have an oily forehead and nose, you probably have combination skin. Different parts of your skin have seemingly conflicting needs — however, all of it needs a good daily moisturizer .
The best moisturizer for combination skin will work double duty. Ideally, it should hydrate the dry areas of your face without making the more oil-prone areas feel greasy. The Mayo Clinic recommends choosing an oil-free, medium-weight formula, which should have the best chance of striking the right balance.If you've experimented with different products and nothing seems to keep your whole face in line, give your skin what it wants and split up your moisturizing routine for different parts of your face. Apply an oil-free formula on your T-zone and an oil-based one on the dry areas.
Once you've picked up a moisturizer designed for your skin type, you'll need a solid moisturizing routine. Here's a basic one to follow:
If you use a topical medication, such as an acne treatment or a medicated steroid cream, your process will look slightly different. Apply your treatment right after rinsing your face, and then wait 30 minutes to moisturize. That way, the treatment has time to penetrate the skin and get to work.
Finding the best moisturizer for your skin type is no small project, but it's worth finding a staple that consistently gives your skin a natural, healthy glow. Don't be afraid to experiment until you find one with the perfect texture, scent and skin benefits. With so many moisturizers on the market, you're bound to find one that gives your skin exactly what it needs.