What is a Moisturizer?

Moisturizers prevent transepidermal water loss and help smoothen skin by plugging gaps between dead skin cells. They can also help protect new skin and reduce wrinkles.


Face moisturizers are lotions, cream emulsions, or ointments that contain oil and waxy substances that form a protective seal on the outer layer of skin. They include occlusives like petrolatum, plus humectants that draw in moisture from deeper skin layers and the atmosphere and emollients that make skin feel soft and supple.


Moisturizers are a dermatological class of products used to keep skin hydrated and prevent trans-epidermal water loss. They have been studied extensively for their use as a preventative and adjunctive treatment for a variety of dermatological conditions including atopic dermatitis. Moisturizers are typically oil-based and can be categorized as emollients, occlusives or humectants.

Lotions, gels, creams and ointments are all moisturizers, but they have subtle differences in their formulas, textures, and skin feel. Moisturizers range from lightweight, gel-like products to thicker, oil-based ointments for intense hydration.

If you have dry skin, look for a moisturizing gel or lotion. These will have a high water content and are light, soft, and absorb quickly. They also work well for balancing the skin’s microbiome to lower any inflammatory tendencies.

If you have very dry skin, consider a cream emulsion or ointment formulated with emollients like shea butter, glycerol, lactic acid, or hyaluronic acid. These will add more lipids to the skin to hydrate and protect it, and help fill the intercorneocyte cluster gaps to smooth, soften, and enhance flexibility. Humectants are also found in some moisturizing formulations and attract water to the skin, sealing it inside the epidermis. They are often formulated with hygroscopic ingredients like amino acids, glycerol, and lactic acid. They are also often formulated to be noncomedogenic, so they won’t cause breakouts.


Moisturizers can protect the skin from sun damage, prevent the development of wrinkles, and keep it soft and supple. They can also help with rashes, burns, and allergies. Moisturizing cosmetics can include emollients, lubricants, sunscreens, ceramides, peptides, fragrances, penetration enhancers, and preservatives. These can be used as lotions, creams, ointments, and bath oils. Some ingredients found in moisturizers include Kathon CG, methylchloroisothiazolinone, isopropyl palmitate, lanolin, liquid paraffin, propylene glycol, shea butter, glycerol, jojoba oil, polyethylene glycols, and waxes such as carnauba. Our daily protect moisturizer contains zinc oxide and octinoxate to offer double UV protection without compromising on moisture. Our moisturizers are free of parabens and silicones.


The most sensitive areas of your skin – your face, neck and ears – replace their cells at a much faster rate than other parts of your body. That means that these regions need special care to stay healthy and moisturized. Moisturizing helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It’s that plump, firm feeling that you get after moisturizing that makes your skin look younger. Moisturizing also keeps your skin soft and smooth, and reflects light better so it looks healthier.

Moisturizers come in many forms – lotions, creams, gels and even ointments. These products typically contain humectants to draw water into the skin, emollients to smooth the surface and occlusives to lock in moisture. There are also special anti-aging moisturizers that have added ingredients such as vitamin C, an antioxidant to reduce free radical damage, peptides to stimulate collagen production and a variety of plant and animal extracts claimed to impart additional benefits.

Obagi recommends that moisturizer be used in conjunction with a serum and sunscreen to get the most benefit out of your skincare routine. However, he cautions that using moisturizer long-term without a stimulator can change your skin’s natural balance of water, lipids and proteins and can weaken the skin’s ability to act as a barrier. He recommends that you apply your Moisturizer right after a shower or bath to help prevent this from happening.