What the best facial moisturizers have
- A combination of moisturizing and
water-binding ingredients as well as humectants. Experts say that plant oils,
mineral oils, shea butter, cocoa butter, petrolatum,
silicones and animal oils (like lanolin) make the best moisturizing
ingredients. An effective face moisturizer will contain one or more of those,
along with ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid, or elastin to keep
water from leaving the skin, and humectants, such as sorbitol, glycols,
glycerin and sodium PCA, to attract water to the skin.
- Soothing agents and
soothing additives that may crop up in your facial moisturizer include bisabolol, allantoin, burdock
root, aloe, licorice root, glycyrrhetinic acid, green
tea and chamomile extract. These ingredients help counteract the irritation
that may be caused by other common ingredients, such as artificial fragrance.
- Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and
beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). These ingredients have been shown to clear pores and remove dead skin
cells, leaving your face smooth and hydrated. Glycolic acid, lactic acid and
citric acid are examples of common AHA skincare ingredients. Salicylic acid, a
common ingredient in acne treatments, is a BHA that shows up in some face
- An SPF rating of 30 or more and UVA protection. Experts recommend that your daytime moisturizer should
include sunscreen of SPF 30 or better, with broad spectrum protection against both UVB and UVA rays. Common sunscreen ingredients include
titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avobenzone, tinosorb and mexoryl SX.
- Antioxidants. Whether taken internally or spread
onto your skin, antioxidants help prevent some of the damage caused by free
radicals. There are countless antioxidants -- including vitamins A, C and E,
green tea extract, grapeseed oil, coffeeberry extract
and idebenone -- that crop up commonly in facial
moisturizers; experts say the best moisturizing formulas contain a mix of
- Opaque packaging and dispensers
with small opening. The
delicate antioxidants and plant extracts in your facial moisturizer will
deteriorate quickly with repeated exposure to air and sunlight, so opaque
packaging offers an important layer of protection. Pump dispensers or
squeezable tubes also help limit the amount of air and light that contact your
moisturizer, and they're more hygienic too, since scooping moisturizer from a
jar with your fingers encourages the spread of bacteria.
- Formulas that suit your skin type. The best
moisturizer will have ingredients that suit your skin type. Although experts
are split on whether people with oily skin need moisturizers at all, all agree
that an oil-free moisturizer is usually best for those with oily or acne-prone
skin. People with sensitive skin should choose a moisturizer without perfumes,
petrolatum, lanolin or other comedogenic (pore-clogging) ingredients. If you have sensitive skin, you might also prefer
a moisturizer without sunscreen ingredients.
Know before you go
What's your skin type? Different skin types need varying degrees of
moisture, and some skin types should avoid certain ingredients. To determine
your skin type, wash your skin with a gentle cleanser and pat dry. Wait an hour
or two for your skin to return to normal, then examine
yourself in the mirror. If your skin looks shiny, or if a piece of tissue pressed to sticks easily to your skin and becomes
transparent or shows oily residue, you have oily skin.
You can do the tissue test for other skin types, too. If
you see flaky skin on the tissue or in the mirror, you have dry skin; you might
also see a combination of oil and skin residue, which means you have
combination skin. If you see neither oil nor skin
residue, you most likely have "normal" skin. Sensitive skin is easy
to recognize because it tends to become easily irritated, dry, tight and itchy.
Do you suffer from acne or frequent breakouts? If so, you need to consider adding
an all-over acne treatment or spot treatment to your skin care regimen. Look
for an oil-free formula, preferably with a beta-hydroxy acid such as salicylic
acid to help clean your pores.
Try to obtain sample sizes. Even when you're dealing with the
best cleansers in the world, some trial and error may still be necessary to
find the best fit for your skin. Using sample sizes helps cut down on the
frustration and money lost during that trial process.
Test products on your inner arm first. If you have sensitive skin, this
simple test can save you from the frustration and embarrassment of having the
skin on your face break out. If your inner arm shows irritation, you'll know
not to use that product on your face.