Which Moisturizer is Best For You?

by Eileen Bailey Health Writer

Take a walk down the aisle of skin care products in any drugstore or supermarket and you will see hundreds of different moisturizers. You might be tempted to choose the one your friend recommended or the one your mother has used for years. But, these might not be the best choices for you. Instead, think about your skin type: is it sensitive, normal, dry, oily or a combination of different types? To get the best results, the ingredients in your moisturizer should be targeted to your skin type.

Dry Skin

If you have dry skin, the top layer of your skin easily loses water. Try applying moisturizer in the morning and night while your skin is damp to help seal in the moisture. You might also need to apply moisturizer throughout the day to help your skin stay hydrated and look healthy. When washing your face or showering, keep the water warm - not hot- as hot water tends to dry your skin.

It is best to use an oil based moisturizer. Because your skin can easily dry out from the sun, look for a moisturizer that has an SPF of at least 15. Remember, sun protection only lasts for a few hours; applying your moisturizer throughout the day helps to keep your skin protected.

What to Avoid:

Avoid products that contain alcohol as this will further dry your skin.

Oily Skin

Many people mistakenly believe that oily skin doesn't need moisturizer. But oil and moisture are not the same thing. Your skin needs hydration no matter what your skin type. With oily skin, however, your pores might easily clog. A moisturizer that doesn't add additional oil to your face is best.

What to Look For:

Water-based moisturizers work well for oily skin. Look for products that contain the words, "oil-free" or "non-comedogenic" on the label. If you don't see this, check the ingredients to see if there are any types of oils in the list.

What to Avoid:

Oil-based moisturizers. These are often lotions and creams. Stick with moisturizers that are gel or liquid, which are usually the water-based moisturizers.

Combination Skin

Combination skin is when you have different skin types on different areas of your face. People with combination skin might have oily skin around their nose and on their foreheads, especially around the hairline. Other areas, such as the cheeks and sides of the face might be dry.

What to Look For:

Try a lightweight cream moisturizer. This type is heavy enough to keep the moisturizer in place and moisturize the dry areas, but should be light enough to not aggravate the oily areas.

What to Avoid:

Heavy, oil-based moisturizers might be good for the dry areas but will add to the oiliness of the other areas.

You might find you need to use different products on your face, for example, a water-based moisturizer around your nose and forehead and a lightweight, oil-based moisturizer on the dry areas.

Sensitive Skin

When you have sensitive skin, you might find your skin is easily irritated. Applying products to your skin can cause redness, itchiness, bumps, or rashes. You may also be prone to acne outbreaks.

What to Look For:

Light, water-based moisturizers. Look for those that are fragrance-free and hypoallergenic. Moisturizers with glycerin might work as this does not cause irritation as much as other ingredients, such as lanolin.

What to Avoid:

Skip moisturizers that have fragrances, alcohol or other irritants. If you have extremely sensitive skin, you might want to look for organic moisturizers and skin care products that don't contain parabens. These are preservatives that are often added to skin care products and make-up. Some common names for parabens include: methylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, ethylparaben, polyparaben and isobutylparaben.

While the FDA requires foods labeled 'organic' to not have parabens, this might not include skin care products. The list of inactive ingredients on the moisturizers should list parabens if they are included. However, if the moisturizer has a fragrance, there can be parabens in the fragrance which don't need to be listed.

Normal Skin

Normal skin has barely visible pores and does not have any severe sensitivities. It is neither dry nor oily. Normal skin is the easiest to care for.

What to Look For:

Because even normal skin can dry in the winter, you might want to use an oil-based moisturizer during the colder months and switch to a water-based moisturizer during the summertime. With normal skin, you can experiment with different moisturizers and skin care products to see what works best for you.

What to Avoid:

Products containing alcohol tend to dry out your skin. Keep track of which products you use and which you don't like to avoid using them in the future.

No matter what skin type, you might need to change your moisturizer throughout the year.
For example, some people have oily skin in the summer when it is humid but dry skin in the winter, when the air is dryer and they are inside in heated homes more often. In addition, hormones can play a role in your skin type. For women, your monthly cycle might bring about changes in your skin, with it more oily shortly before and during your period. If you find that your skin type changes, you might want to have several different types of moisturizer on hand.

Eileen Bailey
Meet Our Writer
Eileen Bailey

Eileen Bailey is an award-winning author of six books on health and parenting topics and freelance writer specializing in health topics including ADHD, Anxiety, Sexual Health, Skin Care, Psoriasis and Skin Cancer. Her wish is to provide readers with relevant and practical information on health conditions to help them make informed decisions regarding their health care.