A long, long time ago, some industrious soul came up with an invention that changed the very course of human history – the wheel. And, right after he took those nifty round things out for a ride came the realization that the harsh elements don’t do the human skin any good.
So, on the heels of the wheel came another spectacular invention – moisturizers! Initially, our caveman brethren were making do with animal fats. But, the stench heralded the need for an alternative and that is how plant waxes and botanical oils and other natural ingredients came to be used in skincare.
Moisturizers From Homes Remedies To Profit Churners!
Moisturizers persisted as kitchen concoctions for centuries, till Ponds came up with their very first vanishing cream in 1846 and Vaseline started offering petroleum jelly in tubes in 1872. But, moisturizers started their meteoric rise to fame with the invention of television in 1930’s and there has been no looking back since then.
Today, moisturizers are available in a myriad forms with a stunning medley of ingredients used in their formulation. Each product is sold with ostentatious claims, some true some not. However, moisturizers are no longer the “be all and end all” of the skincare world. With many other competing products (read serums, face oils, face masks and more), most people wonder if they still need a moisturizer.
What Exactly Is A Moisturizer?
“If my grandmother and her grandmother before her have all used moisturizers, why do I need to be educated on what this product is?”
Simple, the word “moisturizer” is itself a misnomer of sorts, which leads to a lot of confusion and faulty assumptions. When you hear the word “moisture”, you think water/fluids. But, a moisturizer is more about lipids than water, and the oils used in these formulations never go beyond the protective barrier of the skin.
Even if the molecular size of some of the ingredients in a light moisturizer is small, their reach is still limited to only the first few dermal layers. In a nutshell, a moisturizer soothes and protects but does not actually nourish or replenish the lost fluids.
Yet, you cannot possibly undermine the role of moisturizers in keeping your skin healthy. These formulations not only fortify the natural lipid barrier of your skin but also add an extra layer on top. So, you get twice the protection from transepidermal water loss. This is one of the reasons your skin instantly looks better after a smearing of your favorite moisturizer.
What Are The Different Types Of Moisturizers?
Broadly, these formulations can be segregated into three categories based on the lipid to water ratio used in their preparation.
Made by using either alcohol, water or a very light weight lipid as the base, gels offer the fastest absorption rate and the least greasy feeling of all moisturizers. They feel cool on the skin as the base dries off quickly after application, making them perfect for those with oily and acne prone skin. However, their superb penetrative powers are achieved at the cost of their ability to moisturize and protect the surface of the skin.
These are light weight emulsions that have the second highest percentage of water/fluids as compared to other moisturizers. Prepared by mixing botanical powders and plant extracts with hydrosols and light oils, lotions hydrate with minimum oiliness.
These water based offerings get absorbed quickly providing superlative hydration and some degree of lipid moisturization. Lotions work well on oily and combination skin as well as during hot summer months.
These moisturizers also qualify as emulsions, albeit the oil to water/fluid ratio tilts in the direction of the lipids. With a higher amount of oils/plant waxes/butters used in the formula, creams understandably feel heavier and greasier than lotions.
While this does compromise their ability to get absorbed into the skin cells, it also gives them a fantastic capacity to protect the lipid barrier of the skin. Cream moisturizers will work for you if you have sensitive or dry skin or want a rich moisturizer to deal with the cold winter months.
In terms of oiliness, these formulations rank the highest on the scale with a whopping 80% lipid content. So, I don’t have to tell you that they feel very greasy and heavy on the skin. But, that is exactly the degree of protection you would need if you have very dry and flaking skin or suffer from conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and rosacea.
Where Are You Going Wrong With Your Moisturizers?
If you were to set the plant extracts and nutrients aside, you would be left with 4 major ingredients that are used to prepare moisturizers. Each of these 4 ingredient classes brings its own benefit to the table and works for a specific skin type. Hence, the ratio of these ingredients varies from one formulation to another. It is crucial to know which ingredient can do what for your skin before you buy a moisturizer or you will do your skin more harm than good.
They absorb moisture and make it available for the dermal cells. Typically, the fluids are drawn from the outside but in arid weather, humectants actually pull fluids up from the deeper dermal layers. So, always use products with high humectant levels with a hydrating serum or mist.
Glycerin, lactic acid, alphahydroxy acids, urea and hyaluronic acid are all humectants that will give your skin a plump and healthy feel and look. Humectant heavy moisturizers work on all skin types, although for very dry skin, you will have to use a creamier formulation on top of the humectant rich product. Because of their ability to hydrate skin cells, humectants work well when used in hot and humid weather.
These ingredients fill the gaps created in the outer dermal layers that allow the loss of moisture. Once these spaces are closed, the skin is better protected and retains the moisture it holds. Most common emollients used in moisturizers include carrier oils, lanolin, petrolatum (not recommended) and mineral oil (not recommended). Look for a higher ratio of emollients in the formula if you have dry, dehydrated or mature skin that is in dire need of moisturization and protection.
These compounds are naturally produced in the body and make up a large part of the lipid barrier that keeps the skin intact. The ceramides included in a moisturizer are either plant based or lab manufactured. Either way, their job is to bind together the sebum, skin cells and fluids and form a layer on the surface of the skin that prevents the loss of moisture. Ceramide rich moisturizers should be used on normal or combination skin and by those who suffer from dermal dryness inducing conditions such as eczema.
All heavy oils, plant waxes and beeswax etc are included in this class of ingredients. You may have already guessed that the greasy, sticky feel of moisturizers is attributed to these compounds. Occlusive are included in very small quantities in facial moisturizers, while their heavy use is reserved for products meant for whole body application.
However, you will find face products prepared for severely dehydrated and mature skin containing a significant amount of occlusive substances. Occlusive rich moisturizers are well suited for very cold weather, but these do attract and trap a lot of dirt and cellular debris due to their sticky nature. So, if you have oily or problem prone skin, stay away from occlusive heavy products.
Other Ingredients To Look For In Your moisturizer!
Apart from these ingredients, it would also help to look for other active compounds and botanicals that offer therapeutic value. For instance, essential oils provide protection against free radicals. Extracts of mushroom, seaweed and gotu kola can work wonders on ageing skin while licorice extract, arbutin and kojic acid will help to deal with dark spots.
As a general rule, use a rich formulation at night that will soothe, heal and restore your dermal health as you sleep. In contrast, pick a light moisturizer for daytime use and you can apply your sunscreen after it., preferably one that has SPF 30 or higher.
Remember, no matter how good or expensive your moisturizer, there is no skincare product or ingredient known to mankind that can undo sun damage. In other words, protection is your only option. So, don’t make your moisturizer an excuse to not use sunscreen.
How Should You Use A Moisturizer?
Start on cleansed and exfoliated skin. Pat your face with a soft towel to remove excess moisture but do not dry your skin completely.
If you are going to use a hydrating mist, toner or a serum in your skincare routine, these water based formulations should go on your skin right after cleansing. If not, apply moisturizer on your face while it is still damp after cleansing. This will help to seal the moisture in and will make the humectants in the formula work harder and offer greater benefits.
When using your moisturizer after the serum or hydrating water, wait for about 2-3 minutes, giving the lighter formulations enough time to seep into the skin.
While your face is still damp from the use of the serum/hydrating water, apply the moisturizer, simply smearing the formulation on your skin, without really trying to massage it in.
Wait for about 2-3 minutes after application, which will give your skin cells enough time to soak up the oils in the formula. This way, when you give your face a soothing, pampering massage, you won’t be risking micro tears.
Massage your face gently with the moisturizer for about 5-10 minutes, using upward strokes. You can use your hands or any hand held massaging device.
If using a skin oil, keep this for the very end. Apply about 10 minutes after the moisturizer or right before bedtime. For daytime use, wait for about 5-10 minutes before applying your concealer or foundation or even your sunscreen on top of the moisturizer.
Top Tips For Buying, Using And Storing Moisturizers!
- Always buy a moisturizer that suits your skin type, condition and the weather.
- Do not wait till your skin goes bone dry to start using a moisturizer. This applies to both age related and weather related dermal dehydration. The sooner you start the better will be the results and lesser the damage .
- Tugging your skin with downward strokes when massaging your skin with the moisturizer will cause long lasting and irreparable damage.
- You need to moisturize even if you have oily skin, but pick a product that is meant for your skin type.
- Lotions and creams make perfect primers for makeup, including foundation and concealers.
- Remember to take off your makeup and moisturizer before bed time.
- An oily formulation can seep into the eyes if applied too close to the lash line. So, either stay about a centimeter away from the eyes on all sides or gently dab away excess lipids right before heading to bed.
- To get more from moisturizer as well as your expensive serum, add a few drops of the serum to your night time moisturizer for a booster dose. This way, you won’t have to use the serum separately at night.
Recommended Natural Moisturizers For Normal, Dry and Oily Skin
The 3 all-natural L’orpur Moisturizers are 1. “Balancing Oil-Free moisturizer” for Normal & Oily/Combination skin, 2. “Essential Rejuvenating Moisturizer for All Skin Types and 3. “Deep moisturizing Cream” for Normal & Dry/Sensitive skin. All moisturizers contain organic essential oils (frankincense oil, rose oil, etc.), carrier oils and herbal extracts specifically suited to your skin type. Click here to read more information about the natural moisturizers.