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Moisturizers have long been the most the sought after entity within the world of skincare. For decades our shelves have been abundant with small jars, large jars, packaged in multi-pack jars, and colorful boxes filled with jars.

Have a skin concern? Go to the moisturizer shelf. There was something for everyone. And, it seemed that everyone had their own preference of brand. Earlier decades had potions of either ‘oil in water’ or ‘water in oil’ as your only choices. That was the difference provided for oily and non-oily skin types. However, I doubt that most who used them ever knew the difference. They just know they ‘liked’ that one.

Current formulations have become so very complex. And, in fact the categories have expanded and through educating the consumer have made it a little easier for making choices. Phraseology like ‘oil free’, ‘dry formula’, ‘dermatologist tested’, ‘for dry skin types’, and on and on. Did you know, it only takes one dermatologist to test a product before a statement can be made?? Formulas really do not require strict testing before a label can make specialty statements.

Now back to the categories that you have when choosing your moisturizer today. There are three categories of moisturizers on the market currently.




Humectants have the capability to attract water molecules from the air around you. Your environment with its self-contained moisture content is attracted to your skin simply by your moisturizer. Aloe vera, honey and HA (hyaluronic acid) to name a few are light weight humectants that keep on working throughout your day. Professionals often carry, for retail, serum bottles of this humectant that you can add to your moisturizer or apply directly to your skin prior to smoothing on your daytime or nighttime cream. When custom-blending my clients moisturizers I have the ability to add a much higher grade of HA that continues working throughout the day whereas an over the counter one may not provide the same benefit.

Emollients are heavier ingredients whose weight comes in a variety of forms. These can be purchased as butters, oils, lotions, or creams. These can include ingredients like ceramides, and jojoba or vitamin E oils. Their purpose is to fill in the cracks that one doesn’t see but can be blamed for sensitive or reactive skin conditions. Reactive or sensitive skins are easily stimulated and can feel tingly or may even heat up or begin to flush. Emollients can give temporary relief but overall do not solve the problem of having sensitive skin. When custom-blending, special serums that have calming and anti-inflammatory effects on these skin types must be chosen wisely. The weight of an oil (from light to heavy )for your particular skin type and present condition makes the difference between success and the failure to correct.

The third category of moisturizers are the occlusives. As you can guess, occlusives provide a thicker barrier atop the skin’s surface. Occlusives prevent water loss from the epidermis and help to seal in humectants. These ingredients are thicker oils like coconut oil and mango butter and waxes like beeswax.

Each skin type can create their own concerns if the incorrect type of moisturizer is applied. Dry skins may experience continued dry skin and may function best with occlusives, whereas oily skin types may find an accumulation of filled pores around the nose, 3rd eye and inner cheeks. These blackheads happen when oily skins use too heavy a moisturizer. Often dehydrated skin is self-diagnosed as dry skin. It is important that one knows the difference before purchasing the wrong weight of moisturizer.

Use caution when choosing your daily facial sun protection. These same principles apply to the base or carrier of SPF’s. Using an spf with chemical bases have many complaining about their weight and oiliness. Whereas many physical sun protection formulas tend by nature, to be drier and do well with all skin types.

Serums can also muddle up the mix with weights and textures when applied to skin in layers. Contact your skin specialist or esthetician if in doubt or have issues with the creams you have been using. It’s our job to clarify your concerns and help you make better choices.

DESIRED IMAGE SKIN CARE CLINIC – 871 Niagara Falls Blvd., Amherst, NY 14226 (716)-834-1123


By Brenda Romanow

Brenda Romanow is the owner of Desired Image Skin Care Clinic, a Buffalo based business of over 22 years. Brenda has been in education for over 10 years for the New York State Education Committee for esthetics and is also a New York State examiner for esthetics. She started teaching in several school’s continuing education class on subjects such as Anti-Aging, Personal Image, Makeup application as well as Cosmetic Ingredients (what’s in a jar). 834-1123.