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Different Types of Moisturizers: Finding the Right Hydration for Your Skin Type


Moisturizers have been a staple of skincare routines for years, and I for one, am a moisturizer enthusiast. Keeping your skin hydrated can be tricky, though. With all the different types of moisturizers available, where do you start? And what ingredients should you look for?

Plus, you may have heard that moisturizers can be categorized into humectants, occlusives or emollients.

Don’t stress.

If you’re drowning in the different types of moisturizers on the market, we’ve got you covered.

Read on to learn about different moisturizers and simplify hydration once and for all.


Types of moisturizers


3 Different Types of Moisturizers

Your body provides moisture to the lower layers of your skin through the blood vessels. But the only problem is that moisture doesn’t reach to the outer layer of skin: the epidermis. That’s why it’s so important to find a good moisturizer for your skin type.

Especially in the winter, skin dries out fast, so a moisturizer with ingredients your skin needs will keep you dewy and hydrated all year round.

There are 3 basic types of moisturizers that all treat different issues. Choosing the right one for you is just a matter of determining your skin goals and finding the ingredients that will help you get there.


Humectant Moisturizers

Humectants are ingredients that attract water and keep it in your skin. They do this by their unique chemical structure that attracts polar water molecules. Confused? Don’t be. This basically means that humectant ingredients help pull water from the air and into the outer layer of your thirsty skin.

While humectants sound like the perfect ingredient for dry skin types, they have their drawbacks. When the air is too dry, humectants will pull water from your deeper skin layers, drying you out more. That’s why a humectant shouldn’t be the only ingredient in your optimum moisturizer. (Occlusives are commonly included, but we’ll get to those.)

Humectants are good for basically all skin types, but work great for dry skin. Moisturizers hydrate the skin by pulling in and retaining water, not oil, so oily skin types don’t have to worry about humectant-based moisturizers, either. In humid environments, humectant moisturizers can be even more effective.

Use humectants in warm, humid weather, day or night. Just be aware of the weather and your skin’s moisture levels. If you’re getting too dry, you may need a heavier moisturizer.


Occlusive Moisturizers

Occlusives are heavy-duty ingredients that trap water in your skin. Ingredients like petroleum jelly or other waxes and oils seal your skin so you don’t lose moisture. The issue with occlusives is their sticky, greasy texture. They soak in slowly and can feel heavy, so oily skin types should look for moisturizers that have very little occlusives.

Because these ingredients are such effective traps, it’s important to cleanse thoroughly before applying them, as impurities can be trapped in your pores, leading to breakouts.

Occlusives work great right after you shower, as they can trap the moisture from your damp skin. Using them after bathing or at night, when your skin is repairing itself, is a great strategy for rejuvenating your skin. Dry, aging, or sensitive skin types can all benefit from the powerful locking powers of occlusives.

Acne-prone skin should avoid using occlusives, as they can clog pores even more. Instead, opt for a light lotion. There are many different types of lotions, but oil-free, non-comedogenic formulas will be best for irritable or breakout-prone skin.


different types of lotions

Emollient Moisturizers

Emollients are similar to occlusives in that they trap water, but they feel lighter and penetrate faster than most occlusives. Emollient ingredients are lipids that smooth and soften the skin, filling in the tiny cracks in your skin to leave you smooth as can be.

These light ingredients are especially good for dry, aging or dehydrated skin, but they can also work for combination skin types that want to treat occasional dry patches.

Emollients work great at night, after you’ve washed your face, or after braving dry air. Using them consistently can result in supple, softened skin, regardless of the weather.



Bonus! While ceramides may not be as common as the other 3 categories of ingredients, they can still work wonders for your skin. Ceramides are wax-like molecules that our skin naturally produces to keep skin strong. While they don’t necessarily help hydrate, they can keep skin moisturized by helping maintain a strong moisture barrier.

Ceramides can benefit every skin type, because all skin produces ceramides. Products including them will often just say ‘ceramides’, and they can be especially effective for damaged skin that needs a barrier boost.


Final Thoughts On Different Types of Moisturizers

Now that you know the basics of moisturizers, it’s easy to find the right product for you based on the ingredients in a formula. Dryer, aging skin tones will need heavier occlusives paired with humectants to pull in and trap major moisture.

Sensitive, damaged skin should avoid fragrances and dense occlusives, opting for lighter moisturizers that emphasize humectants and emollients. The addition of ceramides might actually repair your skin!

Oily or acne-prone skin should look for oil-free, low-occlusive formulas that don’t clog pores. A water-based, humectant-rich moisturizer might do the trick for you. The effectiveness of a product is all in the ingredients, and not everything is designed to work for your skin.

Taking care to learn about what you put on your body will result in a happier wallet and complexion. Let’s keep in touch @kiseu


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