The 3 Types of Moisturizers and What They Do

When it comes to your skincare routine, there’s a chance you either follow a strict, step-by-step process or stick with washing and moisturizing. How you go about taking care of your skin comes down to your preferences, constrained by time and the cost of products. But no matter what, at the end of the day, your skincare routine should finish with a beneficial moisturizer. A moisturizer is a hydrating cream that you apply to your face and neck after you’ve washed and used serums. It locks in products, keeping them from rubbing off or evaporating, and allows the skin to absorb the treatments you applied.

So how do you go about choosing the right moisturizer? There are three types of moisturizers; learn about their various purposes here to see which one will best suit you and your skin.

Lotion vs. Moisturizer

Many people often wonder if there are any significant differences between lotion and moisturizer. Other people also think they’re one and the same, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. They’re both hydrating products for the skin, but they aren’t interchangeable. The significant differences consist of application, ingredients, and thickness.

Moisturizers are typically thicker, and so they can be better for targeting smaller areas of the skin such as the face. Lotions are thinner, and because they’re easier to spread, they might be better for larger areas of skin, such as the body. Moisturizers tend to prevent dryness in the skin, whereas lotions tend to act as a means for introducing highly specialized ingredients into the skin.

Benefits of Moisturizers

Moisturizers offer many benefits to your skincare routine. It’s an essential final step to promote good skin health. The most apparent benefit is that moisturizer replenishes the moisture in the skin after exposure to the sun, dirt, and pollution in the air. It leaves the skin feeling soft and hydrated while fighting against dry spots and flakiness.

Moisturizers can also have protective and nourishing properties. You can find moisturizers with vitamin C to even out skin tone and fade dark spots. As for protection, you can also use moisturizers with SPF to protect the skin from the sun. Additionally, moisturizers reduce transepidermal water loss, or TEWL. Lastly, moisturizers with retinol or retinoids can have great anti-aging properties.

The 3 Types of Moisturizers


When you’re looking for a moisturizer that will draw water into the top layer of the skin, a humectant is the best choice. It contains ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, lactic acid, urea, and alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). They draw moisture from the air and into the outer layers of skin. Humectants are mostly gel formulations, which bind water to the skin.


If you need a moisturizer that will fill cracks in the skin and seal in water to provide a smooth, soft complexion, an emollient is what you’re looking for. Emollients are beneficial types of moisturizer, and their purpose is to fill in gaps between skin cells and flakes with hydrating oils and lipids. They stick to the skin’s surface, holding in humectants. Emollients can contain synthetic ingredients such as dimethicone or more natural ones such as shea butter, cocoa butter, or jojoba oil.


If your skin needs a thicker layer of protection to prevent water loss, an occlusive is your best choice. It will include ingredients such as beeswax, lanolin, and shea butter. Occlusives have large molecules, so they attract water instead of repelling it. They seal moisture to your skin due to their heaviness. They’re beneficial if you have dry skin and want your skin to stay soft and hydrated.

How To Choose a Moisturizer

How you go about choosing your moisturizer depends on your skin type. There are four notable skin types: oily, dry, normal, and sensitive. Finding a moisturizer that benefits your skin’s texture and thickness is essential.

Dry Skin

Dry skin consists of a flaky, textured surface that lacks sebum production. If you live with dry skin, the best choice of moisturizer is a cream-based formulation. The thickness of the formula means it will feel somewhat heavy on the skin but result in moisturized skin for a more extended period of time.

Moisturizers for dry skin also contain oil- and water-based ingredients. Because it contains these humectant and emollient ingredients, it will draw in moisture and retain it.

Oily Skin

Oily skin consists of a slick, acne-prone surface that produces excessive sebum. If you have oily skin, going with a water-based, lower-oil-content moisturizer will benefit you. Ideally, gel moisturizers might help the most.

Because gel moisturizers are humectant based, they also have additional skin benefits: they feel non-greasy and lightweight, making gel humectants fantastic picks for people who are acne prone.

Normal or Combination Skin

Normal skin has balanced sebum production along with normal-sized pores with little to no acne flare-ups. If you have combination skin, you might have dryness on your cheeks with oiliness on your forehead, nose, and chin.

Normal skin can work with almost any type of moisturizer. If you have normal skin but some dryness, a thicker, creamier moisturizer will benefit you. If your skin is slightly oily, then a gel, gel-cream, or water-cream moisturizer will suit you. If you have combination skin, you can find moisturizers specifically formulated for people who live with both dryness and oiliness.

Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin tends to react to fragrances and specific ingredients, resulting in redness, itchiness, and irritation. For people who have sensitive skin, fragrance-free moisturizers that contain no parabens or irritants will work best. A moisturizer that contains aloe vera, chamomile, jojoba, hyaluronic acid, or oatmeal will reduce flare-ups and irritation.

Keeping your skin hydrated involves finding the right products that will get the job done. If you’re looking for vegan body cream and moisturizers, Max Green Alchemy is here for you. We strive to provide clean, cruelty-free, vegan products that don’t contain parabens, sulfates, and other harmful ingredients. We use botanical ingredients to ensure the skin feels soft and moisturized without the guilt. If you have any questions about our products, reach out to us today.

The 3 Types of Moisturizers and What They Do

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