Moisturizers include three broad-scale ingredients in their formulas: humectants, occlusives and emollients. These ingredients may come in different forms, but generally speaking, humectants absorb water from your skin and the external environment, causing skin to "plump" slightly; occlusives form a barrier on the skin's surface that helps prevent water from being lost to the environment; and emollients fill in spaces between skin cells to give your skin a smooth appearance. Together, these ingredients work to seal in moisture and seal out allergens and other external irritants like pollution and cigarette smoke.
You may think that it's only the people with naturally dry skin that benefit from skin moisturizers. Well, you'd be wrong. Every single skin type can benefit from a daily moisturizing lotion.
Dry skin occurs when the sebaceous glands in your skin fail to produce enough oil to keep you naturally hydrated. Without added moisturizers, your skin may begin to crack, itch and flake, eventually becoming tight and red. This type of skin distress can also lead to signs of early aging -- not exactly the look you're going for. Moisturizers will soothe irritated skin and help prevent premature aging.
You may think that your oily skin can't possibly handle another ounce of moisture. Generally speaking, oily skin results when your sebaceous glands overproduce sebum. Individuals with oily skin tend to wash their skin frequently in an attempt to strip away the extra oil and help prevent breakouts. While frequent washing isn't necessarily a bad thing, it can lead to periods of extreme dryness and redness. Using a moisturizer will help prevent these negative side effects, and as long as you use an oil-free lotion, you won't have to worry about experiencing an increase in breakouts.
Individuals with sensitive skin may experience irritation when trying certain skin products. While this may prevent you from wanting to try moisturizers, the right products can actually help prevent potential irritation. Choose noncomedogenic moisturizers (or those designed for sensitive skin) to prevent irritation and redness caused by external irritants and the environment.
Your sebaceous glands don't always produce oil at the same rate -- some of your glands may overproduce sebum while other glands underproduce. If you regularly have dry skin in some areas and oily skin in others, using a moisturizer will help even out your skin tone and reduce the irritation that can occur with both of these skin conditions.
If you have normal skin, count your blessings -- you're one of the lucky ones! That doesn't mean you can skip moisturizer, though. Regularly moisturizing your skin will help block out those environmental irritants that can lead to early aging. Protect your beautiful skin to help keep it looking young!