Breaking Down Moisturizer Ingredients: What makes a good moisturizer?

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Winter dryness is often our reminder to get in the habit of moisturizing. With so many hundreds of products on the market, it can get incredibly confusing to find the right moisturizer for you. So let’s break it down. How do moisturizer’s work? The goal of a moisturizer is to increase the water content of the skin. This can be achieved by preventing water evaporation from the skin by using occlusive ingredients or by increasing the integrity of the skin barrier. Increasing the skin’s ability to hold onto water through humectants is another strategy for moisturizing skin. Humectants draw water into the skin, causing a slight swelling of the top layer of skin that gives the perception of smoother skin with fewer wrinkles.

A good moisturizer usually contains both occlusive and humectant ingredients. Some common occlusive ingredients you may see includes: petrolatum, lanolin, mineral oil, glycerin, sunflower seed oil, olive oil, and jojoba oil. Examples of commonly used humectants include glycerin, sorbitol, hyaluronic acid, urea, propylene glycol, alpha hydroxy acids including lactic acid, and sugars.

Other natural ingredients found to prevent water loss and have the added benefit of anti-inflammatory properties include colloidal oatmeal and shea butter. Lastly, ceramides are a natural component of our skin barrier and when used in proper concentrations have been shown to aid in barrier repair.

Now that you know what to look for, what will you choose? For the body and hands, unscented, gentle creams and oceraintments like Cetaphil, Aveeno, Eucerin, Aquaphor and Cerave are great products. Facial skin is more complex and requires non-comedogenic products that still have hydrating properties. Here are my favoskinmedicarite facial moisturizers:

  1. Skin Medica HA-5: This innovative product contains a blend of 5 hyaluronic acid forms that immediately smooth the  skin, thereby decreasing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Also contains potent antioxidants found in Vitis Flower Stem Cells and algae extracts to support the skin’s natural ability to replenish its own HA leading to sustained hydration.
  2. Skin Medica Ultra Sheer moisturizer: This light weight, oil-free moisturizer contains the antioxidants vitamin C and E skinmedicasheerwhich reduce levels of free radicals in the skin that lead to accelerated skin aging. Hyaluronic acid is also included in this moisturizer to hydrate oil-prone and sensitive skin types.
  3. Neocutis Journee Bio-restorative day cream with SPF 30 : This multifunction al product helps restore moisture and providesneocutis broad-spectrum UVA/UVB SPF 30 sun protection. A blend of PSP®(harnesses human growth factors), hyaluronic acid, powerful anti-oxidants and broad-spectrum SPF 30 to rejuvenate, hydrate, protect, nourish and revitalize skin’s appearance.


Still have questions about what moisturizer is best for you? Schedule a free consultation at the Skin and Laser Center of Grosse Pointe at 313-884-9100 and we can address all your skin care needs.

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