What Is a Moisturizer? Everything You Need to Know

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A moisturizer is a skincare product used to maintain the moisture level of the skin. It’s not just for dry skin either, but a must-have for every skincare routine. This includes oily, combination, and sensitive skin types.

The purpose of a moisturizer is to hydrate the skin and then seal it in moisture. The best moisturizers may also have other added benefits, which include reduced signs of aging, acne treatment, and sunscreen protection.

This article looks at different aspects of moisturizers, including their types, ingredients, and other important things that you should know about them.

Types of Moisturizer


Creams are thick, viscous liquids that are applied to the skin. Essentially, they are an emulsion or dispersion of 50% oil in 50% water or alcohol.

They are composed of thickened oil that is usually occluded with a small amount of solvent. It is the oil that helps deliver the ingredients deeper into the skin. They are also moisturizing and help to soften the skin.


An ointment is typically a thick emulsion of water-insoluble liquids. You can use it for a wide variety of skin conditions that require a high concentration of medication for a limited area of the body.

Ointments are very similar to creams, but they are generally thicker and have a higher oil content. This higher oil content makes ointments suitable for people who have difficulty applying creams or lotions to their skin.

Ointments also contain a higher proportion of active ingredients than creams. This makes them suitable for relieving dryness and treating various skin infections.


A lotion is a mixture of purified water with oil used for hydrating the skin. Lotions are made of mostly water and a small amount of oil and alcohol. This property makes them able to penetrate easily into the skin and hydrate it.

Unlike creams and ointments, lotions have a lighter and non-greasy consistency. This makes them a preferable option for most people, especially people with oily skin types.

Lotions are available in different varieties. But a good lotion should contain active ingredients like humectants and lubricating agents to enhance skin health.


A gel moisturizer is water-based and has a much lighter feel than a cream moisturizer. This lighter consistency allows it to penetrate and absorb much more quickly than creams and lotions.

A gel moisturizer is excellent for people with sensitive skin because it’s not as heavy as the other types of moisturizers which sometimes clog pores. They’re also easy to apply. You probably won’t even feel like you’re wearing anything on your skin.

The best part about gel moisturizers is that they do not contain any oil. They are made of cellulose, water, and alcohol, so they go on smoothly without leaving a greasy residue behind.

Common Ingredients in Moisturizers


Humectants are a type of cosmetic ingredient that works to maintain moisture in your skin. They do this by attracting water from the air into the upper layers of the epidermis.

This process is called “humectation”, and when it occurs, your skin will feel smoother and more hydrated. Humectants also protect your skin by preventing the evaporation of water from its surface, which can lead to dryness and cracking.

That means your skin will stay moist and hydrated, which will keep it feeling soft and smooth. Some common humectant ingredients include glycerin, honey, propylene glycol, sorbitol, urea, and panthenol.


Occlusives seal in moisture and protect the skin from things like dryness and environmental damage. They also provide a barrier to lock in hydration and can help reduce irritation and inflammation.

Simply put, they work by forming an invisible “shield” on the surface that acts as a protective layer against pollution and microorganisms. As long as the barrier is intact, it will not allow anything harmful to come through.

Some popular occlusives for skin include petrolatum (Vaseline), mineral oil, and lanolin. Experts sometimes call petroleum jelly occlusive due to its ability to trap water molecules under its shield.


Emollients are greasy, oily substances that work to soften and smooth the skin. They can help to temporarily relieve dryness by filling in gaps between the cells of the outermost layer of the epidermis.

They work by forming a barrier that prevents the evaporation of water from the skin. Emollients may also reduce scaling and itching due to dryness, thereby improving overall comfort and skin health.

There are many different emollient ingredients but some of the popular ones are shea butter, plant oils, cocoa butter, and animal oils, like lanolin.

How to Choose the Right Moisturizer

  • Look for a moisturizer that has hyaluronic acid in it. Hyaluronic acid will help balance the moisture levels in your skin.
  • Be sure to get a fragrance-free moisturizer if you have acne-prone or sensitive skin because fragrances may irritate your skin.
  • Opt for lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturizers like gels and lotions if you have oily skin.
  • For your morning routine, choose a moisturizer with sunscreen protection.
  • Look for antioxidants like green tea and pomegranate seeds. These ingredients protect your skin from free radicals and pollution.
  • Use hydrocortisone cream or ointment if you have dry skin conditions like eczema.
  • Avoid products with too many acids. These acids can cause irritations if you have sensitive skin.

Benefits of Using a Moisturizer

The benefits of using a moisturizer are so many that it is impossible to count them all. However, a good moisturizer will do the following:

  • It will help hydrate your skin, so it doesn’t get dry.
  • It will help to improve your skin texture and tone, as well as reduce a few signs of premature aging.
  • A moisturizer can help relieve eczema, psoriasis, or other dry skin conditions.
  • It will soothe and soften dry skin.
  • It acts as a protective barrier to keep moisture in your skin for up to 24 hours.
  • A moisturizer with SPF will protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
  • It will leave your skin feeling smooth and comfortable.

How to Moisturize Your Skin

The first step is to choose the right moisturizer. Follow the guideline above to get an idea of what kind of moisturizer you should be using.

How to moisturize your face

  • Get the right amount of moisturizer that needs to be applied for your skin type and then apply it all over your face.
  • Start with the chin and go up towards the cheeks in a circular motion, then do a diagonal motion downwards from the cheekbone in a gentle zigzag motion.
  • Put a few pumps on each hand and use both hands to gently massage in circular motions from the top of your forehead towards your ears, down along both sides of your neck.

How to moisturize your body

  • Squirt some moisturizer onto your hand and rub it into your skin. You can use circular motions or upward strokes to gently massage the moisturizer into your skin.
  • Next, apply the moisturizer starting from your collarbone and then slowly work down to your feet (or vice versa).
  • Apply more moisturizer as needed; you might have to do this each time you rub a part of your body.
  • Finally, make sure you reapply during the night as needed to keep dry skin at bay.


When should you use moisturizer?

Apply moisturizer to your skin every morning after cleansing and before applying makeup, sunscreen, or other skincare products.

You should also use a moisturizer every night before going to bed. This will help seal in moisture while you sleep, as well as give your skin enough time to absorb the nutrients from your moisturizer.

What is the purpose of a moisturizer?

A moisturizer’s purpose is to help restore the natural oils and moisture of the skin. This prevents the skin from excessive drying while providing it with other benefits.

Moisturizers also help soften skin and reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles. Some moisturizers may even have SPF benefits that will protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays.

Can you moisturize daily?

Yes, you can. Moisturizing daily is the best way to help your skin maintain its oil and moisture levels. This will help keep your skin softer and visibly looking smoother.

A daily dose of moisturizer can also help to prevent premature signs of aging by protecting your skin from free radicals. These free radicals penetrate your skin when you get exposed to environmental factors like dust, smoke, and sun rays.


Moisturizers work to hydrate the skin, which is important for healthy-looking skin. They’re formulated with ingredients like glycerin, shea butter, plant oils, hyaluronic acid, and vitamins.

These ingredients are important for your skin’s health because they prevent the skin from losing moisture and getting dry. Dry skin can lead to more serious problems like eczema or dermatitis.

Moisturizers are available in various forms, including gels, lotions, ointments, and creams. It depends on what you need for your skin type. For example, a cream is better for dry skin, while a gel or lotion would be better for oily skin.

Thanks for reading.

Visit Serum101 to learn more about moisturizers and other skincare products to keep your skin healthy and hydrated.