The human skin is the body's largest organ and requires regular attention to stay young, healthy and free of problems. Moisturizers prevent and treat dry skin. They also protect sensitive skin, improve skin tone and texture, and mask imperfections.
At the most basic level, moisturizers hold water in the outermost layer of skin. They also act as a temporary barrier, keeping in your own natural skin oils, hindering evaporation, and warding off exposure to the elements. They also soften rough or dry patches, because that crocodile look is so not appealing.
What Moisturizer to Use
Using lotion or moisturizer on a daily basis should be part of any good skin care routine, but some are better than others. The moisturizer that's best for you depends on several factors, including your skin type, your age, and whether you have specific conditions (hello acne). Generally choose a lotion with vitamins and sun protection (SPF 15 or more).
- Normal skin. Normal skin is not too dry and not too oily. To maintain this natural moisture balance, use a water-based moisturizer that has a light, nongreasy feel.
- Dry skin. To restore moisture to dry skin, choose a heavier, oil-based moisturizer that contains ingredients that help keep your skin hydrated. For very dry and cracked skin, look for a richer shea butter or cocoa butter type moisturizer which has more staying power than creams do and are more effective at preventing water from evaporating from your skin.
- Oily skin. Oily skin is prone to acne and breakouts. Though oily, such skin still needs moisture, especially after using skin care products that remove oils and dry out the skin. A light moisturizer can also help protect your skin after washing. Choose a water-based product that's labeled noncomedogenic, which means it won't clog pores.
- Sensitive skin. Sensitive skin is susceptible to skin irritations, redness, itching or rashes. Look for a moisturizer that contains soothing ingredients, such as chamomile or aloe, and doesn't contain potential irritants, such as fragrances, dyes, preservatives, chemicals galore. Also, avoid products containing acids, which can irritate sensitive skin.
- Mature skin. As you age, your skin tends to become drier because your oil-producing glands become less active. To keep your skin soft and well hydrated, choose an oil-based moisturizer, along with antioxidants or alpha hydroxy acids to combat wrinkles. These ingredients help hold in moisture and prevent flaky, scaly skin.
Skin type can vary quite a lot - it's not set for life. Things like environment, hormonal changes that occur in pregnancy and menopause, and disease can change your natural skin type temporarily.