There are endless moisturizers out there. Although this is largely because there are nearly endless types of people out there, each of them looking for something else, it can be daunting when you have an Ulta coupon and literally hundreds of moisturizers staring back at you, each of them full of different ingredients. However, the truth is that there are three main ingredients in almost every moisturizer, and by comparing and contrasting these three, you can more easily determine which moisturizer is right for you. Here’s what you need to know about these three components.
The first ingredient class is humectants, which increase the skin’s water content and allow your skin to retain the moisture you’re adding into it. Some very common humectants are propanediol, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and honey. NMFs, which stand for Natural Moisturizing Factors, help your skin maintain moisture in the epidermis, and may include options like amino acids, urea, and sodium PCA. Every moisturizer will include some hydrators; after all, with the name “moisturizer,” it’s impossible to create one that doesn’t have any kind of hydrating properties.
While humectants stay within the skin and try to soak into it, emollients stay on top of your skin, smoothing out the surface and maintaining that touchable and soft feeling. Barrier lipids, including ceramides and fatty acids, are part of your skin’s existing barrier layer, which means they’re a great option for a natural emollient that works well with your skin. In oil-free lotions, you’ll often find a silicone-based emollient like dimethicone.
Finally, occlusives slow evaporation by also staying on the surface of the skin. They’re somewhat like a stronger version of emollients – if your skin is especially dry or sensitive, occlusives can help your skin retain the moisture that an emollient may not be able to hold onto. Petroleum jelly, beeswax, lanolin, and cholesterol are all great occlusives that can keep your skin’s moisture inside, especially if you tend toward having dry skin.
These three components are present in most moisturizers, although some moisturizers meant for oily skin may choose not to include an occlusive. However, there are also other components you may find in a moisturizer, like skin-soothing ingredients, strength-building proteins, and repair components for damaged skin. It’s definitely a good idea to look at these other components once you’ve broken down the main three categories of a product.
With so many different moisturizers out there, it’s important that you understand what’s in each moisturizer. Although paying attention to potentially irritating ingredients is important, even just being able to differentiate between one moisturizer and another is an important part of your moisturization habits. You can use these three categories to break down any moisturizer, no matter what it has in it.
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