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How to Choose the Right Moisturizer

Posted by on 6/4/2018

Have you ever looked at the list of ingredients in your skin lotion?

Whether it’s short or extensive, it’s important to know what is inside that bottle and how effective it is in keeping your skin properly moisturized.

Oftentimes what’s cheaper at the store equates to cheap ingredients that are not as effective, or may cause more harm than good over an extended period of time.

What Does My Lotion Need?

One of the key reasons to use a skin lotion is because dry skin lacks moisture, which means it needs ingredients that will aid in eliminating or reducing trans-epidermal water loss. Water is lost in the skin because it gravitates from the deepest skin layer called the dermis and delivers hydration to the top layers, or the epidermis.

Dry skin is the result of water lost in evaporation through the epidermis cells. So the best moisturizers contain ingredients that will trap water in the skin’s upper layers.

Occlusives Trap Moisture

It is of primary importance that your moisturizer contain an occlusive ingredient that prevents water loss. Occlusive agents form a film barrier on the skin, locking in moisture and preventing water loss through the skin. This all works to slow the evaporation process.

Occlusives are particularly important on the body’s skin, which has less oil glands than facial skin.

Common occlusives include: Propylene Glycol, Squalene, Lecithin, Allantoin, Cocoa Butter, Mango Butter, Shea Butter, Beeswax, and Silicone derivatives, such as Dimethicone and Cyclomethicone.

Also, Mineral Oil, Lanolin, Petrolatum and Paraffin are common skin care occlusives, however these occlusives commonly prevent the skin from breathing and as such are not recommended by many skin care experts.

Be attentive to which type of occlusive your skin care moisturizer contains because many occlusives can be greasy and cause acne by irritating the skin or blocking pores.


Another important ingredient in skin lotion or moisturizer are emollients.

Emollients rescue dry skin by soothing, softening and providing moisture to the skin and its cells. Emollients hydrate rough dead cells on the skin's surface and provide the necessary moisture via the composition of the emollient itself, which typically is a type of oil.

Some examples of emollients include: Lanolin, Almond Oil, Liquid Paraffin, Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Mineral Oil, Petrolatum, Beeswax, Squalene, Coconut Oil, Jojoba, Sesame Oil, Cetyl Alcohol, Olive Oil, Triethylhaxanoin.


Similar to emollients, humectants prevent moisture loss and work to retain the skin’s natural moisture, keeping skin supple and soft. Humectants provide the maximum in hydration, thus repairing cracked skin and reducing skin irritation. Some humectant compounds have the ability to attract moisture.

Humectants are very important because they increase the amount of water the outermost layer of the skin, the stratum corneum, can hold. Humectants can even draw moisture from the air in highly humid environments. Humectants work with occlusive agents to seal in moisture, so it is not lost to evaporation.

The most valuable humectants in skin care are naturally occurring. Synthetic humectants, although they do lock in moisture and are cheaper to produce than natural humectants, they lack nutrients and due to the synthetic nature they have the tendency to dry out the skin over time.

Some common humectants include: Sodium PCA, Glycerin, Hyaluronic Acid, Urea, Trumella Extract, and Dicyanamide.

“I prefer a more natural approach using Aloe as an anti-inflammatory, Safflower Seed Oil, Shea Butter and Cocoa Butter as moisture retainers,” Dermatologist Dr. Michael S. Spicer says of the ingredients he believes are necessary in effective lotions.

“Dimethicone is much more tolerable than petroleum in protecting the skin from environmental irritants and weather changes.”

“(Also) I prefer a combination of vegetable-based oils such as Shea Butter and Cocoa Butter. But sometimes for severely dry, sensitive skin, Dimethicone is needed to seal moisture in." Dr. Spicer formulated a lotion that he believes addresses all of the key concerns brought up by his patients who suffered dry skin issues.

In the Épicé Therapeutic Moisturizer, Dr. Spicer created a blend of the most-natural and healthy ingredients he could combine to aid his patients, especially those who suffer eczema.


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