Before starting any moisturizing skin care routine you should understand the products that you will be using and what type of skin imperfection that you are treating. Moisturizers or sometimes called emollients are complicated mixtures of chemical agents that are specifically designed to make the external layers of the skin softer and suppler. This is accomplished by increasing the skin’s hydration by reducing evaporation.
Some of the more common ingredients found in moisturizers are:
- Water – this is often the main ingredient, which the skin absorbs and other ingredients possess.
- Occlusive – these block the evaporation of water from the ointment itself.
- Humectants – these absorb water from the air and hold the moisture in the skin. The most commonly used humectants are glycerin, alpha hydroxyl acids and urea.
- Emollients – fill in the spaces between the cells and the skin while smoothing and lubricating rough skin. Typical emollients are lanolin, petrolatum and mineral oil. Water-based creams have a light non greasy feel whereas oil-based creams leave a slight residue on the skin and last longer.
- Soothing agents – these ingredients are added to creams to prevent skin from becoming irritated. Some of the more common of these are aloe, licorice root and bisabolol.
- Fragrances – these give the salve a more pleasant scent and covers up the odors from the other ingredients. The only pitfall to this is that they may cause skin irritations.
- Preservatives – this is a key component in products containing oil and water and prevents bacterial contamination after opening. Many preservatives can be used in a moisturizer and they too can often time cause skin irritations.
Now that you know the most common ingredients in moisturizers let’s discuss what skin type you have
- Normal skin – to prevent skin from becoming too dry or oily use a light, non-greasy water-based creams that contains lightweight oils, such as cetyl alcohol or silicone-derived ingredients (e.g. cyclomethicone).
- Dry skin – the treatment for skin dryness is to use products are heavier, oil-based moisturizers that contain ingredients such as antioxidants, grape seed oil or dimethicone. Petrolatum-based products should be used for very dry, cracked skin. These are longer lasting than creams and prevent water evaporation.
- Oily skin – water-based ointments that are specifically formulated in the prevention of clogged pores and discouraging the formation of blackheads is recommended.
- Aging skin – keeping aging skin soft and well-hydrated, the use of oil-based moisturizers that contain petrolatum as the base, along with antioxidants or alpha hydroxyl acids will prevent wrinkles.
- Sensitive skin – use salves that contain soothing ingredients such as chamomile or aloe. Minimizing the potential allergens such as fragrances or dyes, as well as irritants such as dyes will prevent skin irritations, redness, itching or rashes.
- Eczema – thicker ointments are the best match for the driest, flakiest skin. Ceramides has recently been used in the treatment of eczema. Twice-daily applications of emollients work best. Wearing moisturizing gloves while sleeping helps keep the emollients in contact with the skin on the hands.