Moisturizers for the face, moisturizers for the body, moisturizers for hands, moisturizers for feet…with so many moisturizers on the market today, you’re sure to find one that will soothe, quench, and hydrate just about every part of your body!
Although we all use moisturizers for our skin, most of us probably don’t know much about how moisturizers relieve dry skin. Here, we’ll explore how moisturizers work and the top 10 moisturizers to help keep your body’s largest organ hydrated and healthy.
Understanding the Skin
Before you can understand how moisturizers work, it’s essential to understand the skin’s structure. The skin is made up of several layers: the outermost layer (the epidermis), the middle layer (the dermis), and the lower layer (the hypodermis or fatty layer).
Moisture is delivered to the skin through blood vessels to the dermis. From the dermis, water travels to the epidermis. The epidermis is the layer that relates to how your skin feels from a moisture perspective (i.e., dry, oily, etc.). When this top layer is plump and full of water, that’s when your skin feels soft, smooth, and hydrated. On the other hand, when this layer is dry, that’s when your skin feels like an old leather suitcase.
Dehydrated skin is caused by climate, stress, hormones, etc. Moisture loss, or trans-epidermal water loss, happens continuously throughout the day. Studies show that the skin loses an average of 300 – 400 mL (a little less than a pint) of water in a day! Luckily, we have moisturizers to minimize this water evaporation from the skin.
The first way a skin moisturizer works is through an ingredient called a “humectant.” A humectant is something that draws water into the skin. Humectants are commonly identified as hyaluronic acid, glycerin, butylene glycol, sorbitol, or sodium PCA on most skin moisturizer ingredient labels.
Experts warn, however, that humectants can draw moisture from the moist, younger cells in the lower layers of the skin in dry conditions instead of pulling water from the environment. Unfortunately, this can lead to even dryer skin. For this reason, it’s recommended that you use a humectant with another skin moisturizer that will hold the water into the skin or an occlusive.
Occlusives pick up where humectants leave off. Occlusives often called “old school” or “first generation” moisturizers, can be related to how a lid holds water in a pot of boiling water. They are responsible for keeping water in the skin by providing a barrier to moisture loss. Occlusives are commonly identified as petrolatum, waxes, oils, and silicones on most skin moisturizer ingredient labels. Since occlusives can leave a heavy feeling on the skin, they are often mixed with emollients to make them more appealing for use in skin moisturizers.
Emollients, the third-way skin moisturizers work, give occlusives a more pleasant feel and help moisturizers fill the spaces between cells in the skin to make it feel smoother. Emollients are commonly identified as lanolin, oils, and butters on most skin moisturizer ingredient labels.
Top 10 Moisturizers For All Skin Types in 2022
Mix humectants, occlusives, and emollients, and what do you get? A moisturizer that, hopefully, works! If you’re uncertain about what skin moisturizer to use, we recommend that you try various skin moisturizers to find one that works well with your specific skin type.
To get you started, here are our recommendations for the top 10 moisturizers for the face, body, hands, and feet:
Moisturizers for Face
1. For Fine Lines – Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream
2. For Acne-Prone Skin – Biossance Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer
3. For Dry Skin – CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
Moisturizers for Body
4. For Dry Skin – Eucerin Advanced Repair Lotion
5. For Sensitive Skin – Aveeno Eczema Therapy Daily Moisturizing Cream
6. For All Skin Types – Vaseline Intensive Care Essential Healing Body Lotion
Moisturizers for Hands
7. Gold Bond Ultimate Age Defense Hand Cream
8. O’Keeffe’s Working Hands Cream
Moisturizers for Feet
9. Eucerin Advanced Repair Foot Cream
10. Burt’s Bees Coconut Foot Crème
One final word of advice, if moisturizers still aren’t effective in resolving your dry skin issue, simple things like turning down your heater in the winter, taking fewer hot showers, or investing in a humidifier can also help. Stay moisturized, folks!