The Best Ingredients for a Face Moisturizer

by Joshua Duvauchelle ; Updated July 18, 2017

With hundreds of facial moisturizer creams and serums available on the market, it can be difficult to choose the right one. Quickly narrow your choices by scanning the ingredients label on the moisturizer you're considering. Think about why you need a moisturizer, and choose the one with several specific ingredients that are beneficial effects for your skin.

The Power of Humectants

Humectants actively moisturize your skin by drawing water from moisture in the air and pulling it to the skin's surface. Humectants are especially helpful for softening and hydrating scaly or thick skin. Common humectant ingredients include urea and glycerin, which is the most common ingredient in moisturizers, according to the Skin Sciences Institute.

Helpful Acids

Alpha hydroxy acids make your skin smoother by increasing exfoliation and skin cell turnover. They're beneficial if you want even-toned, smooth facial skin. Example ingredients include glycolic acid and lactic acid. Salicylic acid, a form of beta hydroxy acid, works similarly and can help keep your pores clear.

Soothing Emollients

Emollients lubricate your skin and smooth in the area between your skin cells for instantly softer skin. Look for emollients such as petrolatum, mineral oil and lanolin.

Silky Silicone

Silicone is perfect for facial moisturizers because it makes your skin feel instantly silky smooth, according to cosmetics expert Paula Begoun. It can help fill in wrinkles for a more flawless finish, and lends a matte finish to your look.

Retinol for Signs of Aging

Retinol is one of the best anti-aging ingredients available in over-the-counter facial moisturizers, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Look for it if you wish to minimize the appearance of aging in your skin, including a reduction of fine wrinkles.

In the Sun

Ensure that your daytime facial moisturizer contains sunscreen. The sun's damaging rays can cause skin discoloration and wrinkles, even on non-sunny days. Pick a moisturizer with a minimum SPF rating of 15. Example sunscreen ingredients include titanium dioxide, zinc oxide and oxybenzone.

Photo Credits

  • Maryurys Connolly/Demand Media

About the Author

Joshua Duvauchelle is a certified personal trainer and health journalist, relationships expert and gardening specialist. His articles and advice have appeared in dozens of magazines, including exercise workouts in Shape, relationship guides for Alive and lifestyle tips for Lifehacker. In his spare time, he enjoys yoga and urban patio gardening.