If you have ever been in a beauty aisle, you know how overwhelming it can be to choose the ideal product . There are so many different products, but knowing which ingredients to look for and which to avoid will make choosing wisely so much easier . Whether you have dry, sensitive, oily, normal or combination skin, there is an ideal moisturiser for you . People with dry skin will enjoy minimal flakes and cracks with a good moisturiser while people with oily skin will enjoy a well-balanced skin surface. If you have oily skin you might be afraid to use moisturisers, but your skin may overcompensate by producing even more oil.

Which Ingredients Should You Look For In Your Moisturising Products?

A good moisturiser for your skin should be hydrating, nourishing and refreshing. Knowing the right ingredients for your skin will help you pick out the best moisturising products. 

Here are some ingredients to watch out for:

1.    Emollients

Emollients Emollients are cosmetic ingredients that lubricate the skin, ranging from  lightweight fluids to thick creamy formulations . They prevent water loss from the skin and possess smoothing and protective qualities.

Emollients help the skin to retain its moisture and provide a silky, shiny finish. Non-fragrant plant oils can serve as emollients. Other emollients include coconut oil, cocoa butter, mango butter, shea butter, and evening primrose oil.

2.    Occlusives

Occlusives are substances that help to lock moisture into the skin . They form a protective barrier on the skin to ensure that water drawn into the skin is retained. Occlusives to watch out for in your products are: Coconut oil, Beeswax, Cetyl alcohol, Shea butter and Jojoba oil . Remember that occlusives are not moisturisers, they only seal the moisture into the skin.

3.    Humectants

Humectants draw water from the atmosphere and the underlying skin layers to the topmost surface of the skin . In simple terms, they draw moisture into your outer skin. However, humectants must be combined with emollients and occlusives in order to retain skin moisture and repair the skin barrier . Humectants include Aloe, Honey, Hyaluronic acid, Propylene glycol, and Glycerin.

4.    Antioxidants

Antioxidants provide essential benefits to the skin, key among which is fighting free radicals. They help in relieving dry skin caused by environmental factors such as excessive sun exposure and harsh winds. Free radicals and environmental factors can hamper the skin’s ability to retain moisture.


Antioxidants protect the surface of the skin from more damage and boosts its ability to replenish itself. They also work to reduce visible signs of ageing like age spots, fine lines and wrinkles. Potent antioxidants to watch out for in your moisturiser include: resveratrol, grape extract,Green tea extract, vitamin E, vitamin C, licorice extract, and ferulic acid.

5.    Sunscreen

Prolonged sun exposure can wreck your skin, affecting its ability to retain moisture and replenish itself. That’s why you need sunscreen even on cloudy days and during the winter. Many skin care experts have stated that sunscreen is the most essential skincare product. Moisturisers with built-in sunscreen are available. Choose a moisturiser that has a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimal rating of SPF 30+.

But all sunscreens are not the same, some ingredients may act as hormone disruptors. Check your product label for insoluble sun filters that have large particle sizes and are not absorbed by the skin.

Insoluble sun filters include:


          Tinosorb S (bisoctrizole)

          Zinc oxide

          Tinosorb M (bemotrizinol)

          Tinosorb A2B (tris-biphenyl triazine)

6.    Preservatives

Your moisturiser needs preservatives especially if it contains water. This is because water can provide a good breeding ground for bacteria and other microorganisms. A lack of preservatives could also reduce the effectiveness of the moisturiser.


Opt for products containing these preservatives: 

          Essential oils such as tea tree oil, rosemary, neem oil.

          Food-grade preservatives like potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate

          Alcohols like witch hazel

          Gluconolactone, a plant-based preservative

          Phenoxyethanol and dehydroacetic acid which are synthetic preservatives.

Which Ingredients Should You Avoid?

Just as there are ingredients to actively covet in your moisturiser, certain ingredients should be avoided. These ingredients can irritate your skin or worse, have carcinogenic properties.

1.    Fragrances

Artificial fragrances can be pleasant, cloying or downright nasty. Many scented moisturising products contain fragrances to provide a nice smell. Unfortunately, many fragrances may act as skin irritants and may cause  itching, burning, and rashes.

2.    Mineral Oil

Mineral oil is used as an occlusive in moisturising products. It creates a smooth, silky effect on the skin. Mineral oil forms a seal on the skin meant to seal in moisture, but it does it too well.

Mineral oils trap in so much moisture that the skin becomes excessively moist. Over time, this can damage the skin’s lipid barrier and cause water loss. Note that mineral oil is called different names on cosmetic products, including petroleum oil, liquid petroleum, paraffin oil, petrolatum, petrolatum liquid, paraffinum liquidum, white oil and liquid paraffin

3.    Parabens

Parabens are a group of chemicals used as preservatives in many cosmetics. The use of parabens as preservatives has sparked many controversial debates. Parabens have been linked to hormone disruption. It has been postulated that they may be carcinogenic with links to breast cancer.

4.    Synthetic Dyes

Synthetic dyes are used to give cosmetic products distinct and attractive colours. But, the chemicals contained in these dyes can irritate the skin and trigger allergic reactions. Skincare experts also suspect some of them might be carcinogenic.

5.    Silicones

Silicones are man-made substances that create a smooth, velvety touch. Cosmetics companies use silicones in products like moisturisers and primers for two main reasons. Firstly, they are cheap occlusives, meaning that they create a film over the skin that traps in moisture. Unfortunately, silicones work over-time and seal in not only moisture but also dirt, bacteria, oil and dead skin cells . They end up clogging the skin and precipitating skin breakouts. Secondly, silicones fill out skin flaws and give an instant smooth finish through their skin coating action . This coating effect could affect the skin’s natural shedding process and slow down turnover. This could lead to drier skin in the long-term.


Choosing a good moisturiser can take some time, but make sure to properly research the ingredients . The right ingredients will promote healthy skin but the wrong ones can irritate your skin and even disrupt your skin barrier . Using the guidelines above should make the selection process easier.