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What Makes A Good Moisturiser? How To Pick One That’ll Work For You

Article last updated: June 9, 2024

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Navigating the world of skincare can feel like a daunting task, especially when it comes to finding the perfect moisturizer. In this guide we'll demystify the process and help you pick a moisturizer that will leave your skin glowing and hydrated, no matter your skin type.

The Role of Moisturizers in Skincare

Moisturizers are the unsung heroes of our skincare routines. These essential products work to hydrate the skin, prevent dryness, and maintain a healthy skin barrier. They lock in moisture, helping to keep your skin soft, supple, and youthful. But their benefits don’t stop there! Moisturizers can also deliver vital nutrients, soothe irritation, and even help manage certain skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Whether you have oily, dry, combination, or sensitive skin, a good moisturizer is a must-have in your beauty arsenal.

Hydration and Moisture Retention

At the core of a moisturizer’s function is its ability to hydrate the skin. Environmental factors like wind, sun, and pollution can strip away moisture, leading to dryness and a dull complexion. A good moisturizer acts as a barrier, locking in hydration to keep skin dewy and plump.

Strengthening the Skin Barrier

The skin barrier defends against bacteria, pollutants, and harsh weather. When compromised, it can lead to dryness and sensitivity. Moisturizers with ingredients like ceramides and fatty acids help repair and strengthen this barrier, keeping skin resilient and protected.

Delivering Vital Nutrients

Moisturizers are also a delivery system for vital nutrients that keep skin healthy and vibrant. Vitamins and antioxidants in moisturizers protect against free radicals and promote collagen production, addressing multiple skin concerns in one step.

Soothing Irritation

For sensitive or reactive skin, moisturizers can be incredibly soothing. Ingredients like aloe vera and chamomile have anti-inflammatory properties that calm redness and irritation, providing relief and promoting faster healing.

Managing Skin Conditions

Skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis benefit from moisturizers that restore moisture balance and manage symptoms. Targeted ingredients like urea and lactic acid exfoliate and soften the skin, improving comfort and appearance.

Key Ingredients to Look For

When it comes to choosing a moisturizer, ingredients are key. Here are some superstar components to keep an eye out for:

Hyaluronic Acid

This hydration powerhouse can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water, making it perfect for all skin types. Hyaluronic acid works by attracting moisture from the environment and binding it to the skin, resulting in immediate and long-lasting hydration. Its lightweight nature means it can penetrate deeply, plumping the skin and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.


Squalane is a highly effective moisturizing ingredient derived from squalene, a natural substance found in human sebum. It is known for its ability to deeply moisturize without leaving a greasy residue. Squalane is suitable for all skin types, including oily and acne-prone skin, due to its lightweight and non-comedogenic nature. It mimics the skin’s natural oils, enhancing the skin’s barrier and improving elasticity. Squalane also has antioxidant properties, protecting the skin from free radical damage and helping to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.


Glycerin is a highly effective humectant, which means it draws moisture from the air into the skin. This ensures that your skin remains hydrated throughout the day. Glycerin also enhances the skin’s natural protective barrier, preventing moisture loss and keeping the skin soft and smooth. Its versatility makes it a staple in many moisturizing formulas, suitable for all skin types.


Ceramides are essential lipids that naturally occur in the skin, playing a crucial role in maintaining the skin’s barrier and retaining moisture. They are particularly beneficial for dry and sensitive skin types, as they help to repair and restore the skin’s protective layer. By replenishing ceramides, moisturizers can reduce dryness, irritation, and sensitivity, promoting healthier and more resilient skin.


Also known as vitamin B3, niacinamide is a multi-functional skincare ingredient with numerous benefits. It improves skin elasticity, enhances the barrier function, evens out skin tone, and diminishes dullness. Niacinamide also has anti-inflammatory properties, making it ideal for acne-prone skin. Regular use can result in a smoother, more radiant complexion with reduced redness and irritation.


Antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, and green tea extract are vital for protecting the skin from environmental stressors and free radicals. These harmful molecules can cause premature aging, including wrinkles and fine lines. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, helping to prevent damage and promote a youthful, glowing complexion. Additionally, vitamin C brightens the skin and promotes collagen production, further enhancing skin texture and firmness.


Peptides are short chains of amino acids that support the skin’s structure by stimulating collagen and elastin production. This promotes firmness and elasticity, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Peptides also help to repair damaged skin and improve its overall texture and resilience. By incorporating peptides into your moisturizer, you can support your skin’s natural renewal processes, resulting in a smoother and more youthful appearance.

Moisturizer Texture Matters

The texture of your moisturizer can make a significant difference in how it feels and performs on your skin. Here’s a quick guide to help you find your perfect match:

Cream-Suspension Moisturizers

Creams are rich and emollient, designed to provide intense hydration. They are thick in texture and form a protective barrier over the skin, which helps to lock in moisture. Creams often feel luxurious and are perfect for night-time use or for those with dry to very dry skin. They may take a bit longer to absorb, but they leave the skin feeling deeply nourished and soft.

Lotion-Suspension Moisturizers

Lotions are lighter than creams, offering a good balance of hydration without feeling too heavy on the skin. Their fluid consistency allows them to spread easily and absorb quickly, making them ideal for normal to combination skin types. Lotions provide adequate moisture while maintaining a non-greasy finish, making them suitable for both day and night use.

Gel-Suspension Moisturizers

Gels have a lightweight, non-greasy formula that makes them perfect for oily and acne-prone skin. Their texture is cool and refreshing, and they absorb almost instantly into the skin. Gels deliver a quick burst of moisture and leave the skin feeling hydrated without any residue. They are particularly great for hot and humid climates where heavier moisturizers might feel too sticky.

Balm-Suspension Moisturizers

Balms are ultra-rich and dense, making them excellent for very dry or compromised skin. Their thick, waxy texture forms a protective layer on the skin, providing deep nourishment and repair. Balms can feel quite heavy and are best suited for targeted areas or overnight treatments. They are perfect for addressing extremely dry patches or for use during harsh weather conditions to shield the skin from environmental stressors.

Picking the Right Moisturizer for Your Skin Type

Selecting the right moisturizer for your skin type is crucial for achieving optimal results. Here’s a brief guide on how to choose based on your skin type and concerns:

  • Dry Skin: Opt for heavy-weight creams or balms that provide intense hydration and form a protective barrier. These textures are thicker and more emollient, offering deep moisture and long-lasting relief from dryness. Creams and balms create a shield that locks in hydration, leaving your skin feeling soft and supple.
  • Oily Skin: Lightweight gels are your best bet. They hydrate without adding excess oil and absorb quickly into the skin. Gels have a refreshing, non-greasy texture that won’t clog pores, making them ideal for oily and acne-prone skin. They provide the moisture your skin needs without any of the heaviness.
  • Combination Skin: Lotions offer a good balance, providing enough hydration for dry areas without overwhelming oily zones. Their lighter texture allows for even application and quick absorption, making them versatile for both dry and oily areas of the face. For combination skin, you can also use a combination of products, like a gel for the T-zone and a cream for drier areas.
  • Sensitive Skin: Choose products with soothing textures that are designed to be gentle on the skin. Creams or lotions that are hypoallergenic and free from fragrances, dyes, and harsh chemicals are ideal. These textures should feel calming and provide a protective barrier to help reduce irritation and redness.
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