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A Definitive Guide To Finding The Perfect Moisturizer

Buying skincare products without proper research is like going boating without oars – futile and frustrating. Well, no more.

You’re shopping at your regular hypermarket and walking down the skincare aisle. You’re on a mission to find a moisturizer that, for once, does its job well. But when you look around you only feel dizzy due to the sheer choices available. You’re frustrated because this only makes matter worse. How are you to make the right choice now?

Here’s a simple strategy that’ll help you finally find the right moisturizer for your skin.

Step one: Skin Speak
One common mistake a lot of people make is choosing a moisturizer based on the brand name or popularity instead of their own skin type. There is only dissatisfaction down this road. The only way you’ll reap any benefits of a moisturizer is by listening to your skin.

Normal skin: Your skin is neither very oily nor is it perennially thirsting for moisture. You just need a moisturizer to provide adequate protection and nourishment. A moisturizing cream is your best bet, since it’s not too thick to give your skin a greasy look nor is it too thin to be completely ineffective. Creams provide you with that perfect balance, while giving your skin the hydration it needs.

Dry or itchy skin: Your skin doesn’t produce enough natural oil, and therefore sucks up moisture like hot earth soaks up water. If you’re not using a moisturizer that’s rich enough for your skin, you’ll find yourself pretty much bathing in moisturizer. Instead, go for an ointment-based moisturizer. Ointments are thick in texture, stay longer and do an excellent job at retaining all that moisture, giving you the supple and healthy skin you crave so much.

Combination skin: Your skin is oily in the T-Zone but dry in the remaining areas. Finding the right moisturizer for your skin type is a tricky task. However, a lightweight oil-free moisturizer would you good. Alternatively, you can opt for two creams catering to the two areas: an oil-free lotion for the forehead and the nose, and an ointment or cream for the dry areas.

Oily or acne-prone skin: You need a moisturizer that does not turn your already oily face into a grease-fest, nor does it clog your pores, intensifying your acne problem. Water based lotions are your best friends.

Sensitive skin: Your skin is quick to respond to even the slightest imbalance in a moisturizer. Look for moisturizers that are labeled “hypoallergenic”. Also, opt for something that is fragrance free and contains a maximum of 10 ingredients. The lesser ingredients in your moisturizer, the better it is for your fragile skin. Having said that, your safest bet would be a moisturizer recommended to you by your dermatologist.

Step Two: Label it up
You need to know what you’re slathering onto your skin. Always go through the list of active ingredients mentioned on the packaging. Some of the most common ingredients in moisturizers in the past were: petrolatum, mineral oil, lanolin, propylene, proteins and urea. However, now more and more brands are moving away from these chemicals, as should you too. Instead choose moisturizers with natural active ingredients like shea butter, raw honey, Vitamin A and E among others.

Those with extra dry skin would stand to benefit from moisturizers infused with Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA). It cleans away dead skin and is known to slow down aging.

Most importantly, look out for moisturizers that say “non-comedogenic”. You’ve probably heard this word a lot lately. Non-comedogenic moisturizers’ won’t clog up your pores, and are ideal for all skin types as they keep the skin well-nourished, slow down aging, keep acne at bay and get rid of blackheads. But, they are especially good for those with acne-prone skin.

Step three: Timing is everything
You’ve heard of moisturizers marked as ‘Day cream’ and ‘Night cream’. While it’s easy to consider the two as the same, they’re designed to serve under different conditions.

Ideally, a day cream is lighter, thinner, less greasy and doubles up as a sunblock lotion too – all the things your skin needs when it’s out in the sun and heat. On the other hand, night cream is thicker, richer and heavier. It leaves a greasy sheen, and is best to apply before going to bed.

The key benefit of a night cream is that it nourishes your skin while you’re asleep and your skin no longer has to fight the day’s harshness. Night creams contain anti-aging compounds such as Retinol that stay inactivated under the sun, and works only in the night. They also contain peptides and Vitamin C that boost collagen production, which keeps the skin tight, supple and hydrated. Antioxidants, vitamin E and coenzyme Q work on fine lines and suppress wrinkles, while ceramides, fatty acids, chamomile and aloe vera extracts supply and retain moisture in the skin, boost its protective barrier and soothe an irritated, worn down skin.

However, with night creams, patience is prudent. It takes up to 8 weeks for your skin to show the full benefits of regular use.

Take note: Body lotion is NOT the same as a face moisturizer
Your facial skin is much thinner and fragile compared to the rest of your body. Moreover, your face undergoes more beating on a daily basis in the form of direct exposure to the sun, pollutants, strong winds, heat, etc. So, naturally, it needs a little extra TLC compared to the rest of your body. And your body lotion, designed to work on a different surface can hardly do any justice.

What are you looking for from your moisturizer?
Hydrating respite for your skin? Erasing fine lines and wrinkles? Getting rid of pigmentation and blemishes? When you figure this out, you’ll realize that it’s not really a moisturizer you’re looking for.

Your moisturizer cannot fix problems that advanced skin treatments and a dedicated skincare routine is designed to fix. It’s is not a one-stop solution to all your skincare problems.

The no-no list
With all the due diligence you’re practicing, you should keep your face away from any of the following:

  • Coloured and heavily perfumed moisturizers: Like we mentioned earlier, the lesser ingredients in your moisturizer, the better it is for your skin. All these extra ingredients add no value to your skin; instead they cause irritation and allergies.
  • Too many alcohols and acids: This one’s for those with sensitive and extra dry skin. While Salicylic Acid, Retinoic Acid and Glycolic Acid work wonders on normal skin, they’re likely to penetrate too deeply in sensitive and extra-dry skin, causing more damage. Avoid alcohols in your moisturizer entirely, as it’ll only make your skin drier and more fragile.
  • Steroids: When you first use a steroid cream, it’s natural to be blown away by its effectiveness. But make sure you use this under the strict supervision of your dermatologist. Overusing steroid creams will cause you a whole bunch of new skin problems you didn’t even have before.

All said and done, finding the right moisturizer is a long-term investment for your skin, and pretty much worth all the due diligence.

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