How to Find a Moisturizer That Fits Your Needs

Ever noticed that your skin looks smoother, softer, and more youthful after moisturizing? That’s no coincidence. Moisturizer is a crucial part of your skin care routine that restores hydration and prevents premature aging.

You owe it to your skin to find a moisturizer that meets all of your needs. We compiled the advice of the dermatologists at Skin Therapy Letter to come up this list of 6 factors to consider when shopping for moisturizer. Here’s everything you need to know:

1. Consider your skin type. Moisturizers are designed for specific skin types. When shopping, choose wisely. An ill-suited product could do more harm than good. If you have dry skin, find a moisturizer designed for dry skin. If you have oily skin, find a formulation that caters to oily skin. If your skin is sensitive, or if you suffer from allergies, check labels for the phrases “fragrance-free” or “hypoallergenic.” For oily or acne prone skin, choose a moisturizer that is “oil-free” and “non-comedogenic.”

Don’t know your skin type? Check our help pages for different skin types:

2. Think about texture. A moisturizer with a thicker formulation will typically last longer and provide a more effective protective barrier than a lighter formulation. However, thicker formulations are not for everyone. Some people feel bogged down by the heaviness, or find that their pores react more favorably to lighter formulations. Prior to making a purchase, think about your preferences. There’s nothing worse than trying a new product for the first time and realizing that you hate its consistency.

3. Look for ingredients that attract and retain moisture. A good moisturizer will turn your skin into a sponge. Ingredients known as humectants facilitate hydration by helping the skin absorb water from the external environment. Humectants also transfer water from the deeper layers of the skin to the dryer, outermost layers. Commonly used humectants include glycerin, hyaluronic acid, lactic acid, silicones and urea.

4. Look for ingredients that make skin softer and smoother. Tired of dry, cracked skin? Want to recapture the baby softness of your youth? Remember to scan ingredient lists for shea butter, cocoa butter, various lipids, and mineral oil. These ingredients, known as emollients, are substances that enhance skin softness, flexibility, and smoothness. Emollients also prevent dryness and alleviate itchiness. If you suffer from dry or atopic skin, emollients should be a crucial part of your skincare regimen.

5. Look for ingredients that prevent water loss. Retaining moisture is crucial for keeping skin smooth and well-hydrated. Substances known as occlusives block water loss by creating a barrier over the skin. Common ingredients found in occlusives includemineral oil, silicones and zinc oxide.

6. Consider UV protection. Diehard sun protection enthusiasts may tell us to go cry a river, but we think moisturizing lotion + sunscreen lotion sounds like a recipe for goopy skin. To avoid layering, invest in a sunscreen that contains UV filters. If you decide to make moisturizer a main source of sun protection, find a long-lasting formulation that contains an SPF of at least 30, and make sure to apply every morning. In this day in age, why use multiple products when you can kill two birds with one stone?


Edited from the Skin Therapy Letter .com article Moisturizers: What They Are and a Practical Approach to Product Selection.