Do I need a cream or lotion? Should I avoid certain ingredients if my skin is sensitive? How can I find a moisturizer that won’t make my skin even oilier? Choosing the right moisturizer can get confusing, especially when you’ve got more questions than answers and you’re staring at a shelf with over 20 options. Fortunately, picking the perfect moisturizer doesn’t have to be tough. Here’s how to select a good one and make sure it works.
Moisturizer’s important role
Skin does more than just protect our insides from the outside — it’s also a protective barrier that seals in moisture and seals out irritants, dirt and pollution, helps regulate temperature and cools us down when we’re hot (via sweating). How does moisturizer play into this relationship?
Moisturizer assists skin by providing protection against dehydration and by delivering anti-aging ingredients to the epidermis, improving texture and tone. Dehydrated skin is vulnerable to UV and free radical damage, making moisturizer a vital part of your routine.
Moisturizer for your skin type
The kind of moisturizer you need depends on your skin type, so you can target your skin’s specific concerns. Dry skin will benefit from a thicker moisturizer with a creamy texture, while oily or combination skin is better off with a lightweight lotion or gel.
- Dry skin
Dry skin typically has a weak moisture barrier, adding to dryness. What causes the barrier to break down? Age, genetics, cold weather and sun damage are just a few reasons. To protect the skin and replenish lost moisture, go with a rich, thick cream such as Sundari Lavender Moisturizer for Dry Skin.
For extra dry skin, look for petrolatum to be in the first three ingredients of the moisturizer, according to the Mayo Clinic Health Letter.
- Oily skin
It might not seem necessary, but oily skin still needs moisture, especially if you’re using products to treat acne (which can leave the skin dry and flaky). To minimize shine, search out a lightweight lotion or gel that is oil-free and, preferably find a formula that also helps absorb oil, such as AHAVA Matifying Moisturizer for Oily Skin.
- Combination skin
Consider two types of moisturizers to address oily and dry zones. Use matifying moisturizer on your oily T-zone and a lighter weight lotion on dry areas such as cheeks. If you prefer to skip the extra step, reach for a moisturizer designed to address all problem areas like Pevonia Balancing Combination Skin Cream.
- Sensitive skin
Sensitive skin needs moisturizer designed to soothe redness and calm irritation, as well as hydrate. Pevonia Soothing Sensitive Skin Cream relieves redness and heals the skin.
Avoid moisturizers with these common irritants: “fragrances, dyes, lanolin and the preservatives parabens and formaldehyde,” reports the Mayo Clinic Health Letter.
For the body, think butters, creams or lotions. Skin on the body is thicker and more resilient than the face and benefits from a heavier moisturizer. L’Occitane Shea Butter Ultra Rich Body Cream is perfect for dry skin or whenever you need a boost of healing hydration. If you’d prefer a lighter option, try La Roche Toleraine Body Lotion.
For extra dry spots, use a moisturizer with lactic acid. You can find these at your local drugstore. Dermatologists typically recommend AmLactin, which contains 12 percent lactic acid. However, keep in mind that products with lactic acid might sting.
For all skin types, don’t forget to apply sunscreen daily on your face and other exposed areas.
Boosting moisturizer’s effectiveness
You might buy the best moisturizer for your skin, but your habits can prevent it from doing its job. To make sure your practices aren’t sabotaging your moisturizer’s effectiveness, follow these tips:
- Take warm showers and baths. Hot water drains your skin of moisture, stripping the skin of its natural oils.
- Never use soap and always buy a cleanser for your specific skin type.
- Use your cleanser no more than twice a day. Over-washing can dry out the skin.
- Wear sunscreen every day. The sun dries the skin. UV rays also penetrate deep into the dermis, causing a breakdown in collagen and elastin, so skin appears drier, older and unhealthy.
- Make sure you’re eating a wholesome, nutrient-rich diet. For instance, some research has shown that omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids might help dry skin replenish its natural oils, dermatologist Jessica Wu, M.D., tells Everyday Health.
- Exfoliate two to three times a week. If you aren’t regularly sloughing off dead skin cells, your moisturizer just sits on top of these cells.
- Don’t tan. This includes avoiding both indoor and outdoor tanning, which severely dries out and damages the skin.
- Apply moisturizer immediately after bathing or washing your face (when skin is damp).
- Use a humidifier, which adds moisture into the air.
- Wear natural fabrics, such as silk, cotton and linen, which don’t irritate the skin and let it breathe.
Makeup Tips for Mature Skin
3 Top Tips for Applying Makeup
Solutions for 7 Makeup Mishaps
Options for Long Lashes
6 Ways to Look Younger