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Skincare Routine Step 7: Moisturiser - Types, Benefits & How To Pick The Right One For Your Skin

Moisturisers are by far the most used and recommended skincare product and rightly so. Dry skin is not ideal and can lead to various skin disorders and so we apply moisturisers to keep our skin moist and supple. But surprisingly, not many people know much about the functioning of the skincare product that is meant to improve skin health and appearance. Let's dive into everything that is moisturisers.

What Are Moisturisers?

The term moisturiser was coined by marketers intending to sell products that were meant to moisten the skin[1] . But that is not just what moisturisers do these days. Moisturisers improve the skin hydration and also the skin barrier function to enhance skin texture and appearance. They also help to tackle dry skin and various issues related to it such as atopic dermatitis[2] . Moisturisers come in various forms and consistencies and deliver a boost of nourishment to the skin.

Types Of Moisturisers

Contrary to popular belief, there aren't just one type of moisturisers. They can be broadly classified into 3 types. Let's have a look at what these types are.

1. Emollients

Emollients are used to add hydration to the skin. Mainly constituted of lipids and oils and used to tackle rough and dry skin, emollient helps to make the skin moist and soft and improves skin health as well. Dry skin can cause various other skin orders and thus it is necessary to use emollients to keep dry skin at bay.[3]

Being made of lipids, which play a major role in maintaining skin architecture, emollients easily blend in the skin to benefit it. Besides, emollients also improve the skin barrier function and make it smooth and flexible.

2. Humectants

Humectants are low in molecular weight and these help the skin by attracting and absorbing water in the outer layer of the skin. They attract water from two places - from the dermis and the surrounding environment. Glycerol, glycol, AHA's, urea and hyaluronic acid are some of the prime examples of humectants[4] .

These are also the ingredients that you will find in many of the skincare products meant specifically for dry skin. However, as they pull the water from the dermis into the epidermis, where it can be lost easily, they are ideally used in combination with occlusives.

3. Occlusives

Occlusives are oil and wax-based moisturisers that create a protective layer on the skin and thus prevent the loss of water from the skin. Petrolatum, beeswax, mineral oil, zinc oxide and silicones are the prime examples of occlusives.[4] These are ideal for the skin with large pores that tend to lose water at a higher rate.

Benefits Of Moisturisers

Moisturisers play an important role in maintaining healthy skin. A soft, flawless and healthy skin is desired by everyone. And when we face various skin issues, it can affect us adversely and impact our self-esteem[5] . And moisturisers offer many benefits that take us a step closer to the skin of our dreams. Below are the main benefits of moisturisers.

1. Add moisture to the skin

This one is a no-brainer. As the name itself suggests, moisturisers keep the skin hydrated. They aid in the water retention and absorption process and improves the water content of the outer layer of the skin.[6]

2. Tackle skin inflammation

Many moisturisers have ingredients in them that have strong anti-inflammatory properties and thus they help in reducing the inflammation and irritation of the skin.[7]

3. Have antipruritic action

Itching and irritation are quite common if you have excessively dry skin. Moisturisers have antipruritic action that means they help soothe the skin and reduce the itching.

4. Heal wounds

Hyaluronic acid is a major component of many commercially available moisturisers and it is proven to heal wounds.[8] Moisturisers thus help to heal the skin as well.

5. Protect from the adverse effects of the sun

How harmful can the UV rays of the sun can be for the skin is no secret. They can not only lead to various skin issues but lead to photoactive skin ageing as well. Moisturisers have some sun protection factor in them and its daily application can protect the skin from sun damage.[9]

6. Contribute to healthy skin

Simply put, moisturiser gives us healthy, happy skin. It makes the skin smooth, soft and flexible. Besides having a multitude of beneficial properties, it also possesses antimicrobial properties that keep the harmful bacteria at bay to leave you with nourished skin.

Ingredients To Look For In A Moisturiser As Per Your Skin Type

With all that we know about the moisturisers now, let's have a look at what exactly should you look for in a moisturiser as per your skin type.

1. Oily skin

Don't be under the misconception that if you have oily skin then you wouldn't need a moisturiser. In fact, moisturising oily skin is equally important. Here are the ingredients you need to look for.

  • Hyaluronic acid[10]
  • Glycol
  • Niacinamide[11]
  • Retinoid[12]
  • Salicylic acid[13]
  • Zinc PCA
  • Lactic acid

2. Dry skin

Dry skin is the most benefited from using a moisturiser. It helps to reduce the roughness, itchiness and inflammation of the skin. Here are the ingredients you need to look for.

  • Glycerin[14]
  • Hyaluronic acid[10]
  • Sodium hyaluronate
  • Vitamin E[15]
  • Panthenol[16]

3. Sensitive skin

Sensitive skin is a little bit tricky to deal with. You need to find a product that nourishes the skin without causing any reaction. Here are the ingredients you need to look for.

  • Titanium dioxide
  • Shea butter[17]
  • Vitamin E[15]
  • Hyaluronic acid[10]
  • Chamomile extract[18]
  • Jojoba extract[19]
View Article References
  1. [1] Loden, M. (2005). The clinical benefit of moisturizers.Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology,19(6), 672-688.
  2. [2] Draelos, Z. D. (2018). The science behind skin care: Moisturizers.Journal of cosmetic dermatology,17(2), 138-144.
  3. [3] Lodén, M. (2003). Role of topical emollients and moisturizers in the treatment of dry skin barrier disorders.American journal of clinical dermatology,4(11), 771-788.
  4. [4] Sethi, A., Kaur, T., Malhotra, S. K., & Gambhir, M. L. (2016). Moisturizers: The Slippery Road.Indian journal of dermatology,61(3), 279–287. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.182427
  5. [5] Ginsburg, I. H. (1996). The psychosocial impact of skin disease. An overview.Dermatologic clinics,14(3), 473-484.
  6. [6] Draelos, Z. K. (1991). Cosmetics in dermatology.Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery,87(2), 378.
  7. [7] Hawk, J. L. M. (1998). Cutaneous Photobiology in: Champion RH, Burton JL, Burns DA, BreathnachSM editors. Rook/Wilkinson/Ebling Textbook of Dermatology.
  8. [8] Voinchet, V., Vasseur, P., & Kern, J. (2006). Efficacy and safety of hyaluronic acid in the management of acute wounds.American journal of clinical dermatology,7(6), 353-357.
  9. [9] Seité, S., Reinhold, K., Jaenicke, T., Brenden, H., Krutmann, J., & Grether-Beck, S. (2012). Broad-spectrum moisturizer effectively prevents molecular reactions to UVA radiation.Cutis,90(6), 321-326.
  10. [10] Bukhari, S. N. A., Roswandi, N. L., Waqas, M., Habib, H., Hussain, F., Khan, S., ... & Hussain, Z. (2018). Hyaluronic acid, a promising skin rejuvenating biomedicine: A review of recent updates and pre-clinical and clinical investigations on cosmetic and nutricosmetic effects.International journal of biological macromolecules.
  11. [11] Endly, D. C., & Miller, R. A. (2017). Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options.The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology,10(8), 49–55.
  12. [12] Futoryan, T., & Gilchrest, B. A. (1994). Retinoids and the skin.Nutrition reviews,52(9), 299-310.
  13. [13] Arif T. (2015). Salicylic acid as a peeling agent: a comprehensive review.Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology,8, 455–461. doi:10.2147/CCID.S84765
  14. [14] Milani, M., & Sparavigna, A. (2017). The 24-hour skin hydration and barrier function effects of a hyaluronic 1%, glycerin 5%, andCentella asiaticastem cells extract moisturizing fluid: an intra-subject, randomized, assessor-blinded study.Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology,10, 311–315. doi:10.2147/CCID.S144180
  15. [15] Keen, M. A., & Hassan, I. (2016). Vitamin E in dermatology.Indian dermatology online journal,7(4), 311.
  16. [16] Camargo Jr, F. B., Gaspar, L. R., & Maia Campos, P. M. (2011). Skin moisturizing effects of panthenol-based formulations.Journal of cosmetic science,62(4), 361.
  17. [17] Lin, T. K., Zhong, L., & Santiago, J. L. (2017). Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils.International journal of molecular sciences,19(1), 70. doi:10.3390/ijms19010070
  18. [18] Srivastava, J. K., Shankar, E., & Gupta, S. (2010). Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future.Molecular medicine reports,3(6), 895–901. doi:10.3892/mmr.2010.377
  19. [19] Pazyar, N., Yaghoobi, R., Ghassemi, M. R., Kazerouni, A., Rafeie, E., & Jamshydian, N. (2013). Jojoba in dermatology: a succinct review.Giornale italiano di dermatologia e venereologia: organo ufficiale, Societa italiana di dermatologia e sifilografia,148(6), 687-691.
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