Moisturisers : An Introduction to the Three Types

We have all heard about moisturisers but did you know that they can be categorised into three different types? The three types namely - humectants, emollients, and occlusives each have different characteristics and functions in which they deliver moisture to the skin.

To reap the full benefits of your moisturisers and effectively incorporate them into your routine, it is important to understand them better and how it works. So, what are they really

Humectants are hydrophilic and attract water to themselves and the skin.

They help draw moisture to the skin's surface (epidermis), where dehydration occurs, from the skin’s lower layers (dermis) and/or the surrounding environment. 

Humectants provide anti-aging effects as the extra hydration effectively plumps the skin and makes lines and wrinkles less noticeable. However, this effect is transient, and lasts only until the moisture content in skin decreases. 

Examples of humectants are : Aloe Vera, Honey and Glycerin.

Skin types : All skin types, but best for normal to slightly dry skin.

Emollients fills the spaces between dead skin cells, leaving skin lovely and smooth.

By filling the gaps, emollients softens skin and help repair any surface damage, which supports the skin's protective barrier and provides a smoother appearance.

They stay on the skin’s surface and some can even be considered as moderate occlusives.

Examples of emollients are : Jojoba Oil, Vitamin E and Cocoa Butter.

Skin types : All skin type, but best for normal to very dry skin.

Occlusives create a barrier defending against moisture-loss.

Occlusives repel water and thus is great for trapping water in the skin and sealing other moisturisers that have been applied prior to the occlusive.

Occlusives are heavier than emollients are the oiliest among the three types

Examples of occlusives are : Shea Butter, Argan Oil and Lanolin.

Skin types : Normal to very dry skin.

 Great! So now what?

Now that you know the difference between the three types of moisturisers,  you can probably see the advantages and disadvantages with each type.

Thus, it is clear that one type is not necessarily better than the other. Instead, they should be used in conjunction with each other, based on the needs of your skin.