Skin doesn’t come in all shapes and sizes, but it certainly comes in different types. For the fortunate few, there’s normal, and for the rest of us, there’s oily, dry, sensitive and even combination. And to make things more complicated, the kind of skin you have can change, depending on the weather: Summer temperatures can make naturally dry skin a little oilier than usual, and the wind, cold and indoor heating of winter, will siphon moisture and suppleness out of even the oiliest complexions.
So, what kind of moisturizer should you use?
First things first: Whatever the weather or skin type, everyone needs a moisturizer in their skin care routine. People with oily skin often think they don’t, but they do, and we’ll get to why a little later on. Generally, everyone needs the water-oil combination that is fundamental to all moisturizers. Ingredients in moisturizers that contain and absorb water, called humectants, work together with oil (also known as occlusives) to lock water into your skin.
If you don’t mind getting a little technical, it’s the dead cells in the stratum corneum, which is your skin’s top-most layer, that hold an amazing amount of water. These cells can absorb up to six times their own weight in water and swell up to three times their size. Not only does this hydration plump out your skin nicely, the water helps the stratum corneum get rid of the flaky dead skin cells.
In moisturizers, humectants like botanical hyaluronic acid, lactic acid and honey pull water from the air as well as from deep down inside your skin and deliver it to your thirsty stratum corneum. As for occlusives in moisturizers, these stop or slow the water down from simply evaporating into the air. Occlusives like jojoba oil, sunflower oil and shea butter lock the water into your skin.
It doesn’t seem to make sense that people with oily skin should moisturize, and yet, it’s true. If you don’t moisturize at all, your sebaceous glands will make up for the lack of moisture by producing more of what you don’t like: extra sebum, the oily, waxy substance that lubricates the skin. It becomes a vicious circle. That said, you have to be careful about what kind of moisturizer you use. “People with dry skin can use thicker products that are cream-based, whereas oily skin individuals should avoid those and use lighter products - a gel or lotion formulation would be ideal for them,” says Dr. Hooman Khorasani MD, a triple board-certified, fellowship-trained cosmetic and skin cancer surgeon.
Formulated for oily skin types, lightweight gels are often made with occlusive agents like silicones, which do the job of sealing in water by forming a thin film on top of your skin but can also trap impurities in your pores. You can watch out for silicones in skin care products by looking for ingredients that end in “-cone,” “-conol,” or “siloxane.”
If you’re looking for better alternatives but with the same silicone-like slip, opt for innovative natural ingredients that do the same, like phospholipids and polysaccharides. You can find these natural occlusives in our Mangosteen Gel Moisturizer, giving this formula its lightweight gel texture. Suitable for all skin types, especially oily, this dewy gel melts into the skin, minimizes the appearance of pores and leaves a smooth, matte finish.
The Clear Skin Probiotic Moisturizer also helps to clear the appearance of blemishes and problem skin. This moisturizer will leave your skin feeling softer and smoother.
Your skin would be considered “normal” if it isn’t dry, reactive or oily. This skin type does not have any persistent skin concerns like break outs. To maintain your healthy skin, try our Stone Crop Whip Moisturizer. It is formulated with a BioComplex, a booster of antioxidants, Coenzyme Q10 and alpha lipoic acid to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and improve the appearance of the skin, as well as hydrating stone crop.
"For a dry skin moisturizer, look for rich oil content and ingredients that improve barrier function in the skin,” says Eminence Organics Lead Skin Care Trainer Natalie Pergar. Rich, thick creams are a good bet if you have parched skin, particularly those with moisturizing ingredients like echinacea and primrose oil, which are key ingredients in our Echinacea Recovery Cream.
As a general rule, avoid anything with alcohol, which will dry your skin out further. Humectants like natural hyaluronic acid and glycerin are effective hydrators together with plant oils like avocado, coconut and shea butter. For example, the Coconut Age Corrective Moisturizer is suitable for dry skin as it contains shea butter and coconut oil. Shea butter is high in triglycerides and fatty acids, and coconut oil is an antioxidant — two ingredients that work to replenish the appearance of the skin.
Our best advice for dry skin: Make sure you don’t go to bed until you’ve put on a night cream. Our Monoi Age Corrective Night Cream for Face & Neck helps replenish your skin’s reserves during your off-hours. Enriched with the tropical monoi flower, this deeply hydrating cream improves the appearance of skin elasticity and reduces the look of wrinkles.
If you have genetically dry skin, you are also particularly prone to dehydrated skin because it lacks oil. The condition is characterized by flaky, dry, tight and itchy skin. All skin types and conditions require hydration to maintain the integrity of the skin barrier.
If you develop dehydrated skin, try the Strawberry Rhubarb Hyaluronic Hydrator. This is a gel-cream moisturizer that delivers intense hydration and rejuvenates dull-looking skin thanks to a Botanical Hyaluronic Acid Complex. This formula also contains strawberry, which naturally contains salicylic acid which exfoliates and removes impurities to brighten a dull appearance.
If your skin easily reddens and chaps and frequently prickles or tightens when exposed to the wrong products, you have sensitive skin. You were born with it, but pollution, alcohol and stress don’t help and can often make it worse.
“Choosing a moisturizer for your skin is a very personal endeavor,” says Dr. Khorasani. “Everyone's skin reacts differently to various ingredients and fragrances. If you have sensitive skin, you should try to use gentle, fragrance-free products.” Having sensitive skin means that your skin barrier is quite permeable and apt to let in irritants.
So, make sure your moisturizer is as irritant-free as possible. Watch out for anything that has parabens, sodium lauryl sulfates, synthetic dyes and fragrances, propylene glycol and phthalates. Eminence Organics is proud to say no to all these artificial additives. Instead, select products that contain soothing humectants that won’t irritate your skin, like glycerin. Natural ingredients like chamomile and aloe vera are also effective at calming down sensitive skin reactions.
If you’re looking to revitalize sensitive skin, our Calm Skin Chamomile Moisturizer contains both chamomile and arnica for balancing the appearance of the skin. It’s also rich in shea butter and calendula oil which have high fatty acid content that acts as an occlusive — preventing water loss without exacerbating your skin. Another moisturizer to experience is our Apricot Calendula Nourishing Cream, which contains aloe, apricots, echinacea and flaxseed to heal and moisturize dry, sensitive skin.
If your skin is the type that can’t make up its mind, your complexion is probably a combination skin type. Characterized by skin that is oily in the T-zone (forehead, nose, chin and sometimes the tops of the cheeks) and normal or dry elsewhere, combination skin can be a struggle when it comes to choosing the right product. Natalie selects moisturizers that can meet the needs of all areas of your skin: “I love to look for balancing moisturizers for a combination skin type with multiple things going on.” She adds, “Our goal is to balance it out so there's a nice, even and toned complexion with minimized pores at the same time.” Natalie’s top choice for moisturizing combination skin? Our Eight Greens Whip Moisturizer. Infused with plant ingredients like yucca extract and stone crop, this moisturizer keeps the skin hydrated all over, even if you’re dealing with varying moisture levels.
Watch this video to find out more about the moisturizers that Natalie recommends:
One last tip: Think of moisturizing as a two-step process - grabbing water and then locking it in. Which is why it’s smart to moisturize after a shower or a bath. Now that you’ve started thinking about what’s best for your skin type, you can learn more about how much moisturizer to apply in this guide.
Book an appointment at your nearest Eminence Organics Spa Partner, consult a trained esthetician and explore our solutions for every skin type. What's your favorite moisturizer? Let us know in the comments below or tell us on social media.
This article was originally written in March 2020.