Everyone is aware of moisturiser but what is it exactly, and how does it work? Here we’ve answered some of the questions we get asked most often about this ubiquitous and essential skincare product. If you still have any concerns, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help you
What Is Moisturiser?
Moisturisers are lotions, gels or creams that are primarily designed to hydrate skin. They work to hydrate the surface of the skin and prevent water loss. While moisturisers may contain some anti-ageing ingredients, their primary job is to hydrate and protect the skin.
How Does Moisturiser Work?
Moisturisers are formulated to deliver moisture and hydration to the top layers of your skin. They also usually contain occlusives, which form a protective seal over the skin; this helps the skin to retain its hydration and creates a protective barrier between your skin and harmful environmental factors.
Unlike the skin on our body the skin our face is thinner and lacks fat deposits so it’s more prone to dryness and needs extra help. Its also exposed all the time and under attached from the environments we frequent. The skin has what’s called a barrier function its critical to keep this working well, using a moisturiser will keep the skins barrier function healthy and resilient.
What is the skin barrier function?’
The skin barrier function is a scientific term fused to describe the top layer or outermost layer of your skin. It has a very important job in locking in moisture and protecting from damage like UV, wind, smoke, bacteria, allergens and free radicals). When your skin’s barrier function is in good shape and working well, your skin will look healthy, plump, smooth and firm. But when it is compromised it stops working effectively and your skin visibly deteriorates. Skin can then look dull, lack in resilience and generally unhappy and quite honestly, older. Good moisturisers will support and nurture your skin barrier function and improve your skin.
How Should I Apply Moisturiser?
Using upward and outward circular movements, massage moisturiser into your face and neck. This technique helps to stimulate circulation and allows the moisturiser to be better absorbed, which enables it to bring nutrients to dull or dry skin.
Apply moisturiser to the driest parts of your face first (such as cheeks) and leave the middle of your face until last, as this tends to be oilier because it has more sebaceous glands and so will typically need less hydration. Don’t forget to moisturise dry areas such as your neck and décolletage too.
How Do I Find the Right Moisturiser for My Skin Type?
A good starting point for finding a moisturiser is determining your skin type - normal, dry, oily or sensitive. It is important to note that skin types can change throughout the year depending on your lifestyle, age or the season so make sure that you keep monitoring the condition of your skin throughout the year.
The texture of the right moisturiser for you will be related to your skin type. Dry skin (or skin in the wintertime) may need a heavier and creamier formula, while oily skin (or skin in the summertime) might need a light lotion moisturiser that won’t block pores.
If you have oily skin or skin that is prone to breakouts, opt for a lightweight non-greasy moisturiser with a lotion or gel texture as creams can clog pores. The formula should condition your skin while helping to balance hydration and oil levels. Look for ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, Vitamin C, lemongrass and willow bark extract.
Suffering from parched skin? Look for moisturising and plumping ingredients such as glycerin, hyaluronic acid, shea butter, grapeseed oil, olive oil or sunflower oil, and antioxidants like green tea extract, grape extract, Vitamin C, Vitamin E.
The challenge for combination skin is to treat the differing needs of different areas of your face. Those with combination skin need to moisturise without clogging pores and to provide the skin with balance. One option is to use different moisturisers on different areas of the face. Alternatively, you should look for a lightweight but hydrating moisturiser that can help to regulate oil production.
Sensitive skin needs a moisturiser that is gentle and can help to settle and strengthen fragile skin. Look for ingredients that soothe and calm skin such as lavender, almond oil, Vitamin E or green tea.
If you’re lucky enough to be blessed with “normal” skin, you have more options when it comes to moisturisers; although normal skin can always benefit from a moisturiser that helps to maintain balance and hydration whilst providing skin with a boost of energy. It can also be a good idea to switch from a lightweight moisturiser in summer to a thicker cream in the winter.
Those with normal skin should look for a water-based moisturiser which contains humectants (ingredients that hydrate by attracting moisture from the environment and lower layers of your skin) such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid. Also, look for occlusives such as shea butter and lanolin which will create a protective seal to keep in all the moisture.
To achieve a more youthful appearance, look for Vitamins A, C and E. These are powerful antioxidants that help to protect skin against damage from ageing free radicals whilst increasing cell regeneration and promoting the production of collagen. Vitamin E also helps to soften skin and maintain its oil balance without leaving an oily residue.
How Do I Find the Right Moisturiser for My Skin Type?
There are several key differences that will generally dictate when you should use a particular moisturiser, and these are based around texture and ingredients:
Moisturisers intended for daytime use tend to be lightweight, so that makeup can be layered over without feeling greasy or looking shiny.
In terms of ingredients, day moisturisers often contain SPF and anti-oxidants to help protect skin against sun damage and ageing environmental factors. The purpose of a daytime moisturiser is to protect the skin from environmental damage, so the ingredients in daytime moisturisers will work to combat these effects. Look for ingredients such as Vitamins C or E. If you opt for a moisturiser that also provides sun protection then you should look for one with broad spectrum protection against both UVA (the ageing rays) and UVB (the burning rays).
At night the body is working hard to restore and rejuvenate skin, so overnight moisturisers tend to be richer in consistency than daytime products and focus on helping the skin to repair and renew. Night moisturisers may also contain anti-ageing ingredients that are more potent, powerful and slow absorbing, as there is no risk of sun exposure or the other damaging environmental factors that skin is exposed to during the day.
Some people prefer not to use retinoids and certain exfoliating acids (such as glycolic acid) during the day, as they can make skin more sensitive to the sun. If you do use products containing these ingredients in the morning make sure you also use sunscreen or a moisturiser containing SPF to keep your skin protected.
What’s the Difference Between Moisturiser and Serum?
Serums are highly concentrated, lighter weight, products that are designed to address a variety of skincare issues and concerns such as fine lines, wrinkles, dull skin, dehydration or blemishes. They are thinner and lighter than moisturisers and are made up of smaller molecules, meaning that they can penetrate deeper into the skin delivering potent active ingredients to layers of the skin that moisturisers cannot reach.
Serums contain antioxidants, vitamins, peptides and acids which target specific skin concerns and they deliver these ingredients to where they are needed the most.
If you are looking to address a specific skin concern then you should include a serum in your skin routine, as they are multitasking products which can brighten, reduce wrinkles, treat blemishes as well as hydrate skin. However, serums are not designed to replace moisturisers; in fact, they can aid the absorption of your moisturiser. Serums also help to boost the hydrating effects of your moisturiser and, in turn, moisturisers can seal in the nutrients delivered by serums, as well as offer protection against environmental elements.