When we are born, our skin automatically makes all the moisturizer it needs to be soft and healthy by creating sebum – a combination of oil and waxes. This sebum forms a thin lipid layer on the skin by combining with water. These lipids play a large role in skin’s barrier function. When skin doesn’t have moisture, fine lines and wrinkles are more apparent, and when it is lacking in oil, skin is unable to retain the water, which can result in a dull, flaky complexion.

As we age, our skin’s natural moisturizing abilities begin to slow, leading to imbalance. For example, the skin may be unable to retain water and create lipids, or conversely, may produce too much oil. The right moisturizer will help supplement your skin’s needs.

Moisturizers by Skin Type

Your skin type is characterized primarily by the levels of natural lipids in your skin. Below you’ll find a few characteristics related to some of the most common skin types. If you’re unsure about your skin, our guide to determining your skin type goes into more detail.

Dry Skin

Dry skin is characterized by fine lines and wrinkles, uncomfortable tightness and sometimes sensitivity. The natural barrier function of the skin is most compromised in dry skin because of insufficient natural moisturizer production and dehydration within the skin.

To help counteract the loss of water, moisturizing creams for dry skin tend to have a higher oil, wax and water content. These ingredients create an occlusive layer on the skin that replaces water and helps retain it. Sometimes, these creams feel tacky because water and oil don’t naturally bind together, so an emulsifier is needed to blend them together. Newer formulas are absorbed more quickly, so they do not feel as heavy on the face.

Normal / Combination Skin

Normal/combination skin, which is the most common skin type, is characterized by balanced skin on some parts of the face and dryness or oiliness on other parts. Gel creams or lotions are ideal for this skin type moisturizer for this skin type as these formulas have high water content to replenish dehydrated areas of the skin, while providing some oil to help skin retain hydration. A heavier cream may feel too sticky and heavy on those with normal/combination skin.  

Oily Skin

Oily skin is characterized by excess sebum on the surface of the skin, which is the major factor and  lead to clogged pores and eventually acne. It is a myth that those with oily skin do not need to use a moisturizer. It is possible for one to have oily dehydrated skin. In fact, skin may be over-producing oils.

The best moisturizers for oily skin have water-like textures, such as gels. Gel moisturizers contain the lowest concentrations of emulsifiers, waxes and oils. As a result, they are able to replenish dehydrated skin without sitting heavily on the skin.

In Conclusion

Finding the kind of moisturizer that best suits your particular skin type is essential to balancing the complexion and reducing signs of premature aging. While it is tempting to reach for thick, luxurious looking creams when purchasing a moisturizer, it may or may not exacerbate imbalance in the skin’s moisture barrier function. It is well worth the time to find the perfect match, and your skin will look — and feel — like baby skin.