Moisturising products (moisturisers) are a key component of basic skin care, especially when there is change of the skin’s barrier function and reduced water content in the skin’s outermost layer, the epidermis. Moisturisers can be used to help restore the barrier function of the epidermis by covering tiny cracks in the skin, providing a soothing protective film and increasing the water content of the epidermis. Moisturisers may, thus, slow evaporation of the skin’s moisture, thereby maintaining hydration and improving the appearance and tactile properties of dry and visibly ageing skin.
How to choose a moisturising product?
Finding and choosing the most suitable moisturiser for an individual may be a matter of trial and error, however, the following should be considered along the way: (1) dryness of the skin, skin conditions and the body parts/areas affected; (2) product suitability and formulation; (3) the user’s individual preference and lifestyle; and (4) product affordability and cosmetic acceptability.
Moisturisers should contain no soap, fragrance, colour, common irritants or preservatives, which may trigger skin reactions/irritations or aggravate existing skin conditions. Instead, the chosen moisturiser should contain a mixture of moisturising ingredients that mimic the way the skin naturally hydrates itself, such as emollients, humectants and occlusives to maintain the skin’s hydration and to help relieve as the likes of itching. Emollients hydrate and improve the appearance of the skin by contributing to skin softness and smoothness. Humectants are responsible for sponging up water from the deeper skin layer (dermis), preventing it from escaping. Occlusives trap water in and create a protective barrier over the skin, slowing the evaporation of water from the surface of the skin.
Moisturisers must be a nice product to use; affordable and cosmetically acceptable. There is no single ideal moisturiser for every person, and matching the best suitable moisturiser to a person’s needs is essential for regular use, ongoing compliance and good skin health.
Moisturising products: what to use, when to use and how much to use?
Moisturisers are available in different formulations, including lotions, creams, ointments and gels. Depending on the site of application they are generally divided in two categories: (1) face care (facial) moisturisers and (2) body care moisturisers. Within each category, moisturisers can take the form of specialised products that are formulated to better suit certain body parts such as the lips, the area under the eyes, hands and feet.
Generally, the best type of moisturiser for daytime use is a non-greasy face or body lotion, which is usually suitable for healthy and dry skin and even hairy skin. For night time, slightly greasier and thicker products like creams are suitable for moderately dry skin or sensitive skin. Occlusives such as ointments are oil-based formulations that are generally more suitable for very dry or thickened skin. Lastly, gels are usually light, non-greasy formulations that are easily absorbed by the skin to provide a rapid, smooth and cooling feel to the skin.
Moisturisers should be applied directly to the skin and left to soak in. They should be applied liberally and frequently, at least twice per day or as often as you need or prescribed by a healthcare professional. When it comes to moisturiser use to manage the symptoms of skin conditions such as eczema, some people may need to apply them more frequently throughout the day or night, and this frequency can also depend on the product type and severity of the underlying skin condition.
1. Face care (facial) moisturisers
The face is particularly prone to effects of the environment such as dry and cold conditions and sun exposure. Hence, facial moisturisers, which are usually creams or gels, have a unique place in daily skin care. They are designed to be non-greasy with an emphasis on skin feel and look while providing hydration and avoiding blocking pores. For example, under eye creams are lightweight cream formulations that can help to restore firmness, diminish dry lines, and reduce puffiness.
2. Body, hand and feet care moisturisers
Body, hand and feet moisturisers in general are an essential part of managing dry skin and associated issues such as hand dermatitis or cracked heels. They can help to support the skin barrier and lock moisture in, to make the skin feel soft and supple again.