The Four Types of Moisturizers, What They Do, and How to Apply One
For the mature skin, a good moisturizer is critical for optimal skin health — in fact, NASA considers a moisturizer so fundamental for skin care that they recently conducted an experiment aboard the International Space Station to investigate the protective benefits of using a moisturizer in space.
The Best Moisturizer?
The most effective moisturizer on the market today also turns out to be the least expensive — but there is a catch: its petroleum jelly (yuck!), so unless you’re OK with a greasy look and feel, you’ll probably want to try something else.
Your Moisturizer Options
Fortunately, you have many options – 4 to be exact.
The most common type of moisturizer today is the humectant, an oil-free moisturizer that helps the skin absorb water, so it’s best to use it just after showering or bathing.
Another type of moisturizer is the emollient, an oil- or water-based moisturizer that helps smooth and hydrate the skin. Emollients strengthen the “mortar” of the skin, the mortar being the fat that surrounds the stacked cells in the stratum corneum, a structure that resembles a brick wall and serves as protective barrier to keep water inside the skin.
A third type of moisturizer is the ceramide, a moisturizer that helps replace damaged or depleted ceramides. Ceramides reside naturally in the skin to help retain moisture.
The forth type is the occlusive, a moisturizer that directly carries water into the skin, a product meant more for the body than the face.
By containing different amounts of humectants, emollients, ceramides, and occlusive, moisturizers are able to target different degrees of dehydration. For example, if your skin is extremely dry, you’ll want a predominately emollient or occlusive type of moisturizer; if your skin is only mildly dry, than you’ll want a predominately humectant and/or ceramide type of moisturizer.
Finally, many moisturizers today are more than just purveyors of hydration – most will have a sunscreen, to help protect against sun damage (dermatologist recommend an SPF of at least 30), and many will have some kind of cosmeceutical, to help prevent and/or hide wrinkles and even out skin color.
What’s The Best Way to Apply a Moisturizer?
Believe it or not, there is a best way to apply a moisturizer:
- Starting between the eyebrows, apply the moisturizer upwards and out, swirling gently in small circles as you go
- Next, starting from the bridge of your nose just below the eyes, work your way across your cheeks, again, gently swirling
- Finally, starting from your collarbone, work your way up, applying the moisturizer upwards and out, again gently swirling as you go
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