A face moisturizer is a lotion, or cream emulsion, ointment or balm formulated with emollients that help skin stay hydrated. Moisturizers hydrate the surface layers of the skin. Their main skin benefit is that they seal the skin, locking in moisture and nutrients, while protecting the skin from environmental irritants.
How do moisturizers work?
Face Moisturizers work two ways: they either trap moisture in your skin, creating a temporary seal, or they restore lost moisture in the outer layer of your skin. There are 4 classes of ingredients in moisturizers: Occlusives, like petrolatum, form a protective seal; Humectants, like hyaluronic acid and bionic acid, pull in water from deeper skin layers and the atmosphere; Emollients, like glycerin, fill in cracks and roughness, helping to smooth the skin; and Barrier-repair ingredients, like ceramides and the polyhydroxy acid (PHA) gluconolactone, replace natural fats and skin conditioners, helping the skin barrier to function optimally. Most products are formulated with a combination of ingredients—so it’s best to choose a moisturizer based on your skin type and/or skin concern.
What are the benefits of a moisturizer?
The simplest of face moisturizers prevent and hydrate dry skin, but that’s not all they can do. With continued use, moisturizers can improve the skin barrier. Moisturizers with antiaging ingredients can also soothe sensitive skin and improve skin tone and texture, while helping skin to look firmer and healthier. Using a moisturizer over a serum will help lock in the serum actives and nutrients.
Below is a list of other common skincare product types.