Understanding How Skin Moisturizers Work

Apparently, by itself moisture doesn’t heal – it doesn’t remove wrinkles or prevent aging. However, there are 3 ways in which moisture helps your body to reverse aging signs and slow down the aging process:

  • The water promotes vital biochemical reactions in your body that are responsible for self-healing.
  • The moisture makes your skin soft and supple thus avoiding tiny micro-cracks through which harmful bacteria and external irritants (such as soap and detergents) can penetrate into the skin.
  • The water helps delivering the active skincare ingredients to the required parts of your body and thus improves their effectiveness.

Thus, in short, proper skin moisturization helps to slow down skin aging, reduce impact of external damages and promote skin repair and rejuvenation by allowing other treatments to work more effectively. 

Types of Skin Moisturizers

There are 3 main types of skin moisturizers depending on the action they provide – Emulsion based, oil-free and occlusive moisturizers.

Emulsion based moisturizers

Normally water and oil do not dissolve in each other and form a non-uniform mixture of droplets when combined together.  To make such mixtures uniform and stable skincare manufacturers use so-called emulsifiers. So emulsions are stabilized mixtures of water and oil, and come in two types – ‘oil-in-water’ and ‘water-in-oil’. Oil-in-water emulsions (mostly water and a bit of oil) should be used by people with dry or normal-to-dry skin, whereas people with excessively dry skin may need to use water-in-oil emulsions. People with normal and oily skin should avoid emulsion-based moisturizers altogether.

Oil-free moisturizers

People with normal to oily skin that feel the need to moisturize should use oil-free moisturizers, which are based on humectants – the elements that can trap and hold water. Typical humectants include glycerin, hyaluronic acid, propylene glycol, collagen and colloidal oatmeal. 

Occlusive moisturizers

Occlusive moisturizer creates a watertight film on top of your skin that prevents moisture evaporation or leakage. Typical occlusive ingredients include mineral oils, petroleum jelly, and siloxanes such as cyclomethicone and dimethicone. Occlusive ingredients may clog skin pores and thus lead to acne breakouts or other undesirable skin conditions. They should only be considered for use by people with dry skin for whom emulsion-based moisturizers prove ineffective. For maximum benefit occlusive moisturizers should be applied over damp skin straight after washing or moisturization with water. 

Long-lasting moisturizers

In cases of excessively dry skin or extremely harsh weather conditions to keep your skin well hydrated you would need to reapply normal moisturizers every 1-2 hours. Most people find this regime too bothersome and unsustainable. The good news, however, is that there exist long-lasting moisturizers which may last 8-10 hours and they may come to rescue. Long-lasting moisturizers are combination-type moisturizers that contain a mixture of ingredients present in other standard moisturizers discussed above. The typical ingredients usually include humectants (e.g., glycerine, hyaluronic acid, Sodium PSA, colloidal oatmeal) and occlusive ingredients (such as dimethicone, cyclomethicone, petroleum jelly or petrolatum). If you feel the need to moisturize often then long-lasting moisturizer may be your best solution.

Now that you have learnt the main types of moisturizers and how they work, find out How to Moisturize You Skin Effectively

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Filed under: Skin Care Guide

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