Moisturizers – What are they?

Oily Skin & Moisturizers

Moisturizers are often the most misunderstood skincare product. Most people assume they don’t need a moisturizer because their skin is already oily – oily skin is usually a sign of your skin being dehydrated. Naturally the skin produces oil to help keep the skin hydrated, when the skin notices it’s lacking moisture (often completely taken away from harsh cleansers) it produces more oil to compensate – this leads to an overall oilier complexion.

Moisturizers & Acne

It’s also commonly mistaken  that moisturizers will cause  Acne – this is not true! While some moisturizers can be problematic for acne prone skin, there are plenty of moisturizers formulated specifically for acne prone skin and contain ingredients that cannot clog pores.

Types of Moisturizers


Humecants work by attracting water from the dermis into the epidermis. This allows them to draw in water molecules from the environment around them and retain them within the skin.

Examples of Humectants:


Emollients usually come in the form of essential fatty acids. Emollients are generally lipids and oils, which play a role in filling the crevices between the cracks in the skin which improves the appearance of a smooth skin texture, enhanced flexibility, and skin softness. Not only do these products provide instant moisturization, but they have also been shown to increase the skin’s barrier. Emollients provide an instant feeling of moisturization and are generally well tolerated.

Examples of Emollients:

  • Dimethicone
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Lanolin
  • Oleyl Alcohol
  • Cetearyl Isononanoate


Occlusives work by forming a hydrophobic barrier on the surface of the skin. Because they prevent evaporation from the skin, they can be particularly effective when applied to already dampened skin or layered with another moisturizing ingredient. They can prevent up to 99% water loss. Because of their greasy / oily texture they are not the most aesthetically pleasing type of moisturizer. Occlusives are the most common type of moisturizer found in cosmetics and the most known occlusive is Petroleum Jelly.

Examples of Occlusives:

  • Petroleum Jelly
  • Mineral Oil
  • Paraffin
  • Squalene
  • Lecithin
  • Cholesterol
  • Stearic Acid
  • Cetyl and Stearyl Alcohol

Choosing the Correct Moisturizer For Your Skin

Finding a moisturizer that will work for your skin can be tricky.

Moisturizers for Dry Skin

If you have dry skin it’s first important to try and find out what can be contributing to your dry skin. If you’re using over drying soaps or cleansers, using harsh scrubs or over using your Clairsonic, applying toners with alcohol or irritating ingredients (menthol, fragrance) or using poorly formulated moisturizers then your skin can be suffering.

Just because you have dry skin does NOT mean you need a heavy / thick moisturizer. A lightweight gel moisturizer with antioxidants can really improve dry skin and it’s best to start improving dry skin by looking at what is causing it, rather than what can cure it.

Moisturizers for Oily Skin

Oily skin can be tricky to deal with because sometimes oilier skin is actually caused by dehydration. Usually when people have oily & acne prone skin they tend to use acne fighting cleansers and products. Salicylic Acid and Benzoyl Peroxide have been proven in many studies to be anti-acne, so companies usually try to throw these two ingredients in: cleansers, moisturizers and a lot of other products – which is good. The bad part is that these ingredients can be drying and when combined with other irritating ingredients (alcohol, menthol, fragrance) they can be really problematic.

Using these two ingredients in every skincare product can lead to dehydrated skin – which can lead to excess oil production and an oilier complexion. First look to make sure that your products are not dehydrating your skin before picking out a moisturizer. In oily skin lightweight or gel moisturizers can effectively bring moisture back into the skin and help produce oily production – leading to an overall more balanced complexion.

Moisturizers for Combination Skin

Combination skin – a common skin type is often the most difficult to deal with in terms moisturization. Typically, combination skin is when some parts of your face are dry, while the center part of your face, nose, chin, and forehead or the “T-Zone” is oilier. There are a variety of reasons for combination skin but the most understood reason is because the skin on our face has different amounts of active oil glands than some areas. These areas are the nose, chin, and forehead. When dealing with combination skin it’s important to note that your skin has different needs and sometimes you need to use different products on your skin based on the issues.

Some products contain irritating ingredients which can increase oil production in the areas of your face that are oilier. Using a lightweight moisturizer can be effective for combination skin because they’re not overly thick and won’t clog the pores in the “T-Zone”. If you have dry patches you can layer an occlusive over the moisturizer to help lock in the moisturizer – this way you won’t be interfering with the oilier part of your skin.

How to use a Moisturizer

After you’ve cleansed and exfoliated the skin, apply the moisturizer to the skin.

  • Moisturizers can be used twice per day
  • Apply the moisturizer after you’ve cleansed and exfoliated your skin.
  • Gently work the moisturizer into your skin
  • Continue with the rest of your skin care routine
  • Moisturizers can be used over: antioxidant serums, spot treatments