Dermatologists recommend using a daily facial moisturizer as part of a skin care routine. Gently cleansing the face removes dead skin cells, dirt and bacteria, but it also strips the skin of needed hydration. Water in the skin keeps it plump and smooth, whereas dry skin loses elasticity, making it more prone to developing wrinkles.
Facial moisturizers, which are usually lipid-based, lock in that water by either blocking it from escaping from the outermost layer of skin (occlusive moisturizers) or drawing water from the inner dermis toward the top the of skin (humectant moisturizers) [source: American Academy of Dermatology].
It’s better to apply them to damp skin, and they should cover the face as well as the neck. To avoid unwanted breakouts and excessive skin care expenses, follow these five tips to help you select the right daily facial moisturizer.
Know your skin type
During the day, does your face tend to stay dry, or does it develop a greasy sheen? Do you have any fine lines or an uneven skin tone? The answers to these questions help determine your unique skin type.
Dermatologists have designated 16 different skin types, based on the following four categories:
- Dry or oily
- Pigmented or non-pigmented
- Wrinkled or tight
- Sensitive or resistant
Knowing which skin type you fall into makes it much easier to pick the right daily facial moisturizer. For normal skin, you’ll want to choose a non-greasy, water-based variety with silicone-derived ingredients; heavier oil-based products with mineral oil and glycerin better suit drier skin that feels dry and taut after washing.
Take Note of the Weather
The time of year that you shop for a daily facial moisturizer can influence what type you should buy. When the weather turns warm, it may be time to lighten up on your daily skin care routine. With a more humid atmosphere and increased perspiration, thick moisturizers may trigger seasonal breakouts. If your skin suddenly seems like an oil rig, consider switching to a lighter, non-greasy formula. For winter a richer lotion may be necessary to prevent the face from drying out.
Don’t Let Price Fool You
Pay attention to the ingredients. If you have sensitive skin, look out for fragrance-free and oil-free options. For oilier faces, keep your eyes peeled for noncomedogenic (non-clogging) formulas [source: Mayo Clinic]. They do list ingredients in order of amount. By scanning the fine print, you may find that even generic brands offer the right combination for a much better price.
Look for Enriched Formulas
A simple daily facial moisturizer plumps up otherwise dry skin cells to help erase fine lines and smooth your skin’s overall texture. Certain vitamins and antioxidants may stimulate collagen production in order to maintain elasticity in the skin and promote skin cell repair.
Among nonprescription additives, the vitamin A compound retinol has shown the most promise for temporary wrinkle reduction. Synthetic hydroxy acids are commonly found in moisturizers as well; they’re meant to exfoliate dead skin cells and trigger new skin cell growth [source: Mayo Clinic]. Soy compounds may even out skin tone and build collagen fibers that give skin its smooth texture. Vitamin C is also thought encourage collagen production, although it doesn’t interact well with vitamin A (which retinol is derived from).
Sunscreen Is a Must
The most important additive in a daily facial moisturizer is sunscreen. The ultraviolet rays (UVA and UVB) from the sun rob the skin of hydration, leading to wrinkles, skin damage and possibly cancer. By applying a face lotion with sunscreen in it, you can protect your skin from premature signs of aging and maintain a healthier appearance. Dermatologists generally recommend a moisturizer with at least an SPF 15 to adequately safeguard against the sun. Remember to re-apply if you’re out in the sun for more than 2 hours.