You want to buy the perfect moisturizer, but don’t know where to start. The world of skincare can be confusing and overwhelming. For the uninitiated, it may seem that most of the packages are speaking in code or in some foreign language. Hydrating, balancing, age-defying, refining, oily skin, dry skin, combination skin, sensitive skin—it’s hard to know which type of product is right for you.
The truth is, everyone’s skin is different. What’s right for one person may be completely wrong for another. For most people, this means going through a lengthy process of trial and error before finding the skincare products that are right for you. But this process can be shortened with a bit of knowledge. Understanding your skin type and having a grasp of common skincare ingredients can go a long way toward helping you find your skin’s perfect moisturizer.
Why You Need a Moisturizer
Let’s start with the basics. Why do you need a moisturizer? If you have dry skin, you’ve probably never asked this question. But moisturizing does so much more than keep your skin from drying out and getting flakey.
Daily moisturizer use can actually balance out your skin, keeping it from getting too dry or too oily. If you choose a tinted moisturizer, it can help even out your skin tone and cover slight blemishes. But most importantly, moisturizer keeps your skin healthy. Massaging in a nourishing product every day will help stimulate blood circulation and boost the generation of new skin cells. This is important because your face, ears, neck, and chest are the areas of your body that shed dead skin cells most.
Moisturizers work by sealing in your skin’s naturally occurring moisture so it’s not lost from the outermost layer. These products also help pull moisture from inner layers, keeping your skin fresh and healthy. Some moisturizers include alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), an exfoliating agent that will help remove dead skin cells. For those concerned about fine lines and wrinkles, moisturizers can plump up the outer layer of skin, minimizing the look of these telltale aging signs. Finally, many moisturizers contain UVA and UVB protection to help combat negative effects of harmful and damaging sun rays.
Best Moisturizers for Different Skin Types
For those who suffer from itchy, dry skin, look for a thicker product. Hyaluronic acid moisturizer and moisturizers with dimethicone are typically the best options for dry skin. Glycerin, proteins, and propylene glycol will help attract hydration to the skin. Petrolatum, lanolin, and mineral oil can lock in moisture. You may also want to consider using a few different types of moisturizing products to maximize the benefits.
It’s not uncommon for those with oily skin to skip moisturizers, thinking they will only add to the problem. But moisturizer for oily skin can actually help balance out oil production, keeping your skin in check. Choose a light moisturizer like a water-based lotion. Look for the term “non-comedogenic” if you’re acne-prone because these products are less likely to clog pores. At night, you might want to try an oil-based facial serum with vitamin C or E. This can help keep moisture balanced so your skin doesn’t feel it needs to overproduce natural oils.
Combination skin, that is skin with both oily and dry areas, can be tricky to work with. Look for creams that are labeled “for normal skin” and have hydration benefits. Some people with combination skin find it best to use a light moisturizer over the entire face, then add a heavier cream to dry areas. Look for moisturizers featuring non-comedogenic oils and natural humectants. Synthetic humectants and occlusives can make matters worse.
For those with sensitive skin, many products can cause skin irritation. Look for moisturizers labeled “hypoallergenic,” “dye-free,” and “fragrance-free” to avoid some of the more problematic ingredients. For some, antibacterial agents can also cause irritation. In fact, products with shorter ingredients lists tend to be the best hypoallergenic face moisturizer choices. Those with alpha-hydroxy acids, glycolic acid, retinoic acid, and salicylic acid should be avoided in most cases.
Finding the Best Moisturizer for You
Choosing a moisturizer is an intensely personal experience, but if you come at it armed with knowledge, you’re more likely to find the one that’s right for you. Here are some tips on what to look for in a moisturizer when you shop for a new product.
First, know your skin type. Be aware of any allergies or sensitivities and make note of any ingredients that have caused you problems in the past.
Next, pay close attention to the first five ingredients in each product. These are the ingredients that are in the highest concentration within the formula. Also look at active ingredients like lanolin, glycerin, or petrolatum.
Pay attention to when each product is intended to be used. Night creams are often heavier than daytime formulas. Be sure to choose a daytime moisturizer with added sun protection. We can’t overstate the importance of protecting your skin against the sun’s damaging effects. You’ll also want to use a lighter formula in the summer months and a heavier product during the winter.
When trying a product for the first time, look for a mini version of the brand. This will mean less waste if the moisturizer doesn’t work for you.
If you pay close attention and choose carefully, you may find the hunt for the perfect moisturizer isn’t so hard after all.