How to be a Savvy Beauty Consumer: Choosing a Moisturiser thats right for You

In 3 Steps of Skincare, Choose the right skincare for YOU by Cheryl WooodmanLeave a Comment

Ok, so PART 2 in my Savvy Beauty Consumer series (if you missed the first one you can find it here). I wanted to write about a way to help you choose a moisturiser that’s right for your skin, the shelves of beauty stores can seem pretty daunting at times, there’s lots of beautiful and eye catching packaging, but when you are looking for a cream which is going to ‘do the job’ for you, where do you start?
Well, let’s start at the beginning, there are 3 different ways to ‘moisturise’, many moisturisers will try to cover off all bases and incorporate each of these into a lotion. Forgive me for leading with the sciency words, all will be explained I promise.
1) Humectant

These are materials which moisturize by attracting water to your skin. The most commonly used is Glycerin, if you look at the ingredients list in a lotion it is generally second on the list, after water (aqua).

2) Emollient

Emollients are materials having or lending ‘nutrients’ to your skin, for example almond oil or shea butter. They help to soften, they lend their nutrients to your skin and therefore in the long term improve skin condition.

3) Occlusive

Occlusive forms of moisturising work to form a barrier and therefore reduce loss of water from your skin. The most common form of occlusive moisture are waxes like beeswax and petroleum derived products such as liquid paraffin also known as mineral oil.

So we know the 3 different ways of moisturising, then when you look at the beauty market you are faced with, body butter, cream, concentrate, oil, lotion, milk…. balm, tonic…. serum  (and I haven’t even used Google yet for lotion name inspiration!)

All these differently named products can easily be shifted under 1 of the 3 ways to moisturise. A body butter for example is containing a high amount of emollients, a cream tends to have a balance, but focuses on humectants where as a balm focuses on occlusive moisture.

What makes most sense for you to use will depend on where you are using it (legs, face, lips) and what type of skin you have (dry, sensitive, oily).


How do you tell?

1) Humectants
Ingredients to look out for: Glycerin, Propylene glycol, Butylene glycol, Mel (Honey), Sorbitol.

Feel of moisturiser: Sometimes you will get that ‘refreshing’ or cooling feeling as moisture is attracted to your face. If it is a high humectant cream they can feel a little ‘tacky’.

2) Emollient

Ingredients to look out for: [Natural] Shea butter, Almond oil, Mango butter, Coconut oil, Vitmain E, Olive oil, Sunflower oil, essential oils… [Derived from other materials like coconut] Ceterath-20, Sorbitan olivate, Steric acid, Glyceryl stearate, these are commonly used emollients, but the list is HUGE!

Feel of moisturiser: Emollients will leave your skin feeling softened and improve its overall condition. These are the guys you want to be looking out for in any moisturiser for long term improvement!

3) Occlusive
Ingredients to look out for : Lanolin, Beeswax (Cera Alba), Liquid petroleum/Mineral oil (Paraffinum liquidum).

Feel of moisturiser: These will form a barrier over your skin, they do not really absorb. If you have a cream which takes a while to rub in and still feels like it’s sat on top of your skin, it probably contains a lot of these guys.


My tips on what to use and where

1)   Occlusive moisturisation can be comedogenic(pore blocking), so it may not be great to use if you are prone to blemishes. It may also be worth to steer clear of more sensitive areas like the face.
2) Shea butter is my FAVOURITE emollient, it softens like a miracle. Sometimes I just rub raw shea butter into my lips and face!
3) Occlusivesare great for lips.
4) Occlusivesare great for any really dry patches of skin you have just put moisturiser, but some occlusive (like Vaseline) over the top and it will let your skin absorb all that goodness.
5) Really dry skin is dry because its natural ability to hold onto water is lost, therefore occlusive are great for you, you will also want to ensure there are several emollients in there to restore skin softness and condition.
6) If you want to look after your skin in the long term (and not just a short term fix), then emollients are what you need to pay most attention to!
7) Find an emollient which is good for your skin type, Google the INCI name (the one you find on the ingredients list) of this, and make sure it’s high up on the ingredients list of any cream you are buying.

It can be a battle to find a cream that works for you, companies are also constantly changing their formulations (like Cadburys’ Creme Eggs, now no longer using Cadburys’ chocolate! Can you believe!), so one day you might just find that your go to product, no longer does for your skin what it used to.

I hope this helps you to be able to choose a cream based on the ingredients it uses being suitable for your type of skin and where you want to use it!