How To Find The Best Moisturizer For Your Skin Type?
Are you using the right face cream for your skin? This is a useful guide on how to choose the best fit for your skin types and concerns.
Are you overwhelmed when looking for the perfect moisturizer for your skin? There are many options, from moisturizing gels, creams to lotions and emulsions, all at different price points - from drugstore names to luxurious high-end brands.
We know this can be very confusing and you may even be spoiled for choice. According to psychologist Barry Schwartz, the more choices you have to choose from, the less satisfied you will be with your results.
Don't worry—we’re here to make it a breeze for you, with everything you need to know to make a happy choice and simplify the complicated world of skincare products.
What is a moisturizer?
Face moisturizers are designed to increase the water content of the skin, softening it and creating a skin barrier to keep your skin healthy and youthful.
However, if you use the wrong products for your skin type, it can cause your skin to deteriorate. It causes breakouts, dry, flaky patches, and even wrinkles.
It's important that you understand how all the ingredients work, because each formula contains different moisturizing agents that are formulated for different skin types and problems. Let's dive in and find the best products to complete your skincare routine!
(Related blog post: How to do a 10-step Korean skin care routine right?))
3 Different Types of Moisturizing Agents
Humectants are hydrophilic, water-loving ingredients that bond with water molecules and draw water from the air and dermis (deep in the second layer of skin) into the epidermis (top layer of skin).
It is made up of thin molecules and common humectant ingredients inlcude hyaluronic acid, glycerin, AHA (alpha hydroxy acids - glycolic acid, lactic acid), salicylic acid, urea, sugars (fructose, glucose, sucrose, honey), amino acids, panthenol (vitamin B), sodium PCA, elastin and collagen.
Some have exfoliating properties that slough off dead skin cells by breaking down the proteins that hold the cells together. Many are used in conjunction with occlusives to seal in the moisture that humectants draw into the skin.
Emollients help fill in the cracks, softening and smoothing the skin, which reduces the dry, rough patches of skin - common emollient ingredients include ceramides, butters, lipids, fatty acids, dimethicones and other plant oils (coconut, jojoba, grapeseed and more).
Many facial moisturizers contain both emollients and humectants to maximize moisturizing benefits. Emollients provide some occlusive properties (dimethicone is a good example), while many humectants also contain emollients.
Occlusives are usually made up of large molecules and are oil-based, which makes it harder for them to penetrate the skin, which is why they sit on the surface of the skin and form a physical barrier that locks in moisture and prevents water loss.
Think of thick ointment products like Vaseline. This type of ingredients is zinc, beeswax, butter, petrolatum, stearic acid, allantoin, mineral oils.
Dimethicone and cyclomethicone are silicones that act as occlusive agents. When some products are labeled "oil-free," they usually contain dimethicones instead of mineral or vegetable oils.
They generally work well in body care products and are ideal for very dry skin - face, hands, elbows, knees and feet.
How do I choose the right moisturizer for my skin type?
⭐️ Face moisturizers for normal skin
You're lucky if your skin is neither dry nor oily, but that doesn't mean you don't need moisturizer or that it will always stay that way.
The good news is that finding a face cream for this skin type is relatively easy. Try choosing products that target your current skin problem. Or find functional moisturizers like scrubs with AHA BHA PHA or SPF creams for sun protection.
Some ingredients can be beneficial for any skin type, such as antioxidants, vitamins and hyaluronic acid. Remember, balance, hydration and protection of the skin are the keys to keeping your skin healthy and glowing.
You can choose according to your specific skin problems: for hyperpigmentation: OleHenriksen C-Rush Vitamin C Gel Moisturizer, anti-aging: Huxley Anti-Gravity Cream, and a moisturizer with spf: Murad Essential-C Day Moisture Broad Spectrum SPF 30 PA+++.
⭐️ The best face moisturizer for dry skin
Does your skin feel tight or flaky? You probably have dry skin. If you have a dry complexion, it's often because the skin barrier isn't working effectively. A damaged barrier can lead to dry skin, itching, patchy and inflammation, which can only be remedied by restoring the skin's balance.
The best moisturizer for dry skin will likely be a heavier, oil-based moisturizer that will not only hydrate and protect the skin, but also strengthen the skin barrier. Look for products that contain a humectant, which can draw moisture into the stratum corneum, the top layer of the skin, either from the environment or from deeper layers of the skin.
Some examples of humectants include: hyaluronic acid, sodium hyaluronate, honey, seaweed, amino acids like urea, propylene glycol, hexylene glycol, butylene glycol, aloe vera gel, Alpha-hydroxy acids such as lactic acid.
You also need to lock in moisture and heal compromised barrier function. Use a product with a suitable pH, and use a face cream that contains not only a humectant but also occlusive emollients, such as shea butter, ceramides.
You may like CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, Urang Rose Ceramide Cream, or Eucerin Advanced Repair Cream.
⭐️ The best moisturizer for oily, acne-prone skin
If you have oily skin, you may be hesitant to moisturize your face for fear that it will only make it oilier, but all skin needs moisturizing and it's true that if you don't, you risk dehydrating and triggering increased sebum production and making your skin oilier.
For those with oily, acne-prone skin, opt for a light, oil-free moisturizer over a heavy, thick one, but it's important that it's still hydrating. The best moisturizer for oily skin is a light lotion or gel moisturizer containing humectants and alpha hydroxy acids that help dissolve excess oil, exfoliate pores and remove dead skin cells.
Kaolin is another great ingredient for this skin type, which aims to detoxify the skin and cleanse the pores, absorbing any excess surface oil while gently exfoliating to prevent clogged pores.
If you're prone to acne, also look for "non-comedogenic" on the label to prevent clogged pores. Try to find a product with soothing, acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid, tea tree oil, green tea, niacinamide and centella asiatica.
We recommend Cosrx Oil Free Ultra Moisturizing Lotion with Birch Sap, Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel, or Farmacy Daily Greens Oil-Free Gel Moisturizer with Moringa and Papaya.
⭐️ The best facial moisturizer for combination skin
Not sure what type of skin you have? If your cheeks are dry but your forehead and nose are oily, you probably have combination skin. How do you manage this tricky skin type? You need to moisturize the dry areas of your face without making the oilier areas greasy—I know that sounds too complicated.
The best way to care for it is to use a light moisturizer for your entire face and apply a thicker cream to the dry areas. In other words, apply an oil-free formula to your T-zone and an oil-based formula to dry areas.
Combination skin can be a bit of a minefield because it really takes some trial and error to see what works best for you. Just remember that combination skin needs to rebalance itself. If you work at it, I'm sure your skin will be fresher and more radiant.
Our picks are Cosrx Advanced Snail 92 All In One Cream, Cetaphil Daily Hydrating Lotion with Hyaluronic Acid, Biossance Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer.
⭐️ The best facial moisturizer for sensitive skin
If your skin is not only dry, but also itchy, red, rashy and blotchy, your skin may be too sensitive. The good news is that the right moisturizers can protect sensitive skin from inflammation and other symptoms of conditions like atopic dermatitis.
Look for moisturizers that are hypoallergenic, dye-free and fragrance-free, not just unscented. Unscented products may contain fragrances to cover the scents of other ingredients in the product.
Also, fewer ingredients means fewer potential interactions with sensitive skin. Try to find a product with a minimal number of ingredients, and consider all-natural products if they meet your needs. Here are some ingredients to avoid for sensitive skin: alcohol (or ethanol), essential oils, benzoyl peroxide, sulfates, harsh exfoliants like glycolic acid, lactic acid.
You’ll love to try Etude House SoonJung 2x Barrier Intensive Cream, La Roche Posay Toleriane Double Repair Moisturiser, First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration.
( If you're not sure what your skin type is, how to know which product is right for you, please read our blog post ”How to determine your skin type and how to take care of it?”)