POSTED: 18 Aug 2017


For me, moisturising is an integral part of protecting and caring for your skin. Not only do we need to hydrate our skin but a good moisturiser can also help protect against weather damage, reduce the development of lines and wrinkles and even improve the appearance of makeup. In this post I will let you in on my fool-proof method to choosing a moisturiser suited to your skin type . I’ll also share with you some of my favourite moisturiser hacks for healthy looking skin and fuss-free beauty!

The importance of figuring out your skin type

Don’t even think about choosing your moisturiser, without figuring out which skin type you have. As we mentioned before, your base skin type will be oily, dry or combination. On top of that, identify your major skin concern (e.g. ageing/acne/rosacea) followed by your secondary issues (e.g. uneven tone, dullness or scarring). Using this categorisation of skin type (base + major problem + secondary problems), it will be super easy to choose the best moisturiser for your needs. Even better, this method is great for choosing all of your skin care products and even makeup which we will discuss in another blog.

The basics of choosing your moisturiser

Identify your skin type

The first thing you need to work out is whether your moisturiser should have an oil-base or water-base. This will depend on where your skin sits on our spectrum of oily, combination or dry. Oily skin bases should opt for a water-based moisturiser whereas very dry skin types should opt for a more emollient and oil-based moisturiser. If you’re in the middle you could opt for either although steer away from very oily moisturisers. If you have combination skin with very oily T-zone but very dry sides then you might want to consider using two different moisturisers to suit each area. Always try in the shop if possible the moisturiser to see how it feels against the skin of your face.

Next is your major skin problem. If you have acne or are prone to breakouts, then opt for products which are “non-comedogenic”. Essentially this means that they won’t clog up your pores. On the other hand, if your major skin problem is skin ageing then consider a moisturiser which contains alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). These fruit-derived peeling agents exfoliate the skin and increase cell turnover to improve the appearance of ageing skin. Retinol or Vitamin A is another key anti-ageing ingredient which if used regularly at night can retard wrinkle formation and soften the appearance of lines. You can use a night time moisturiser with Retinol. Or use it separately as a serum before applying a regular moisturiser.

Select bioactive ingredients

Finally, choose a moisturiser with Vitamins and active ingredients that can also target your secondary skin problems. For instance, if you have a problem with uneven pigmentation or dull looking skin then ensure that your moisturiser has Vitamin C. If rough textured skin is a problem, then use a moisturiser with Shea butter which helps soften skin.  Acne scarring can again be targeted by moisturisers that contain skin softening ingredients like Shea butter as well as Vitamin E which helps boost circulation. Vitamin C and Hyaluronic acid an also help stimulate collagen production which helps lift and smooth out scars, fine lines and wrinkles.

The 6 key ingredients to look out for when choosing a moisturiser

Now that you know your skin type, it should be super easy to find your ideal moisturiser.

1) Hyaluronic Acid

Since the main purpose of a moisturiser is hydration, nothing does this better than Hyaluronic acid. It also has anti-ageing effects in that it stimulates collagen production and is the main reason for its popularity as an anti-wrinkle treatment in the form of dermal fillers.

2) Dimethicone

This is probably one of the least talked about skin care ingredients. Dimethicone is a silicone derived product which gives creams a rich feel and mattified finish. Its the key ingredient in bases. These are creams you apply on top of a moisturiser to improve the appearance and longevity of your makeup.

If you use a moisturiser with dimethicone in it you can save yourself an additional step in your beauty routine. In addition, dimethicone gives a matte finish to the skin. Hence it is great for oily complexions or smoothing out the appearance if large pores. It is also found in dressings and products for wounds, irritated skin and healing scars which need hydration. As such its also a good add-on for those with dry skin. The only draw back is some people don’t like the feel of Silicone based products. There are also people who feel that it clogs there pores. Ultimately it’s a personal preference. I love it mainly because in a moisturiser it allows me to avoid buying a separate base hence saving time!

3) Shea butter

With its natural vitamins and fatty acids, Shea butter nourishes and moisturises your skin whilst protecting its natural oils. Shea butter also has anti-inflammatory properties as it contains a compound called lupeol cinnamate. Hence, it reduces skin inflammation which is really good for congested and acne-prone skin. Additionally, Shea butter has anti-ageing properties. It helps boost collagen production and contains oleic, stearic, palmitic an linolenic acids which smooth and rehydrate ageing skin. In short, Shea butter is that rare thing; a catch-all skin care ingredient. It’s great for nourishing and moisturising dry skin. Shea butter is also great for hydrating and reducing inflamed acne-prone skin. In addition, it is renowned for softening as well as plumping and firming ageing skin.

4) Vitamins

Vitamin enriched moisturisers are two a penny these days. However, when choosing a moisturiser the most important vitamins to look out for are Vitamins A, B, C, E and possibly K.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A, or Retinol, is known to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It also has an overall smoothing effect on skin texture. Hence it is a key ingredient in anti-ageing skin care products.  fade brown spots and smooth roughness. As sunlight inactivates Vitamin A, the best time to use a Vitamin A containing moisturiser at night time. You can also use Vitamin A separately as a serum before using your moisturiser. Or you can mix it into your normal moisturiser when applying at night time. Less is definitely more as Vitamin A is a very active product. It can irritate the skin so always start with a lower concentration of Vitamin A.

Vitamin B

Vitamin B and in particular Vitamin B3 (aka Niacin), is an established anti-ageing ingredient. It is proven to enhance the moisture retaining the ability of the skin. This results in softer, smoother and younger-looking skin. B3 also reduces redness and hyperpigmentation as well as protects the skin from damage caused by free-radicals.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C (aka ascorbic acid) is one of my favourite Vitamins of all time. It evens out pigmentation by lightening dark patches, brightens the skin and smooths the appearance wrinkles. When used regularly with your moisturiser, Vitamin C will brighten dull looking skin. It will also reduce the effects of ageing and sun damage on the skin.

Vitamin E

Known for its role as “the protector”, Vitamin E is, in my opinion, an essential component of any good skin care product. It enables the skin to retain moisture thus keeping it hydrated and protects against damage by neutralising free-radicals.

Vitamin K

Whilst not as essential as Vitamins A, B, C or E, I’m including Vitamin K because of its benefits in treating dark spots. If you suffer from dark under eye circles or tear troughs as they’re known in the professional circles, then Vitamin K maybe your new best friend. Vitamin K reduces the appearance of dark patches of skin under the eyes. It also reduces inflammation and swelling so may also help with under eye bags. It also helps strengthen the delicate skin under the eye. Hence it provides a fresher, brighter and more youthful appearance to the tear trough and eye area.

5) Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)

AHAs are natural fruit acids that include glycolic, lactic and citric acid. These acids exfoliate the skin and stimulate increased cell turnover. Thus this reveals the fresher and newer layers of the skin. Glycolic acid is great for ageing skin as well smoothing out rough texture and scarring. Citric acid is fantastic for removing hyperpigmented areas and thus evening out and brightening skin tone. Lactic acid also has anti-ageing effects on the skin but is also renowned for its effects on acne prone skin. It reduces congestion and inflammation thus treating and controlling acne outbreaks. When used in high concentrations, these fruit acids also form the basis of some of the most effective anti-ageing and resurfacing chemical peels.

6) SPF

Sun damage is the biggest causes of skin ageing and is also a cause of skin cancer world wide. SPF, or sun protection factor, is a very important component of your daytime moisturiser. You should look for a moisturiser that contains at least SPF 30 on it. Apply it to your face, ears and neck. Also, apply SPF to any other bits of your body which will also be exposed to the sun. Regular use of SPF will limit the effects of photo-ageing. These include sunspots (dark patches), lines and wrinkles as well as rough textured skin.

There is no real secret to beauty. Having great skin will enable you to make the best out of your makeup or even go without. There are many things you can do to boost the appearance of your skin and reduce the effects of ageing. However, there is no substitute for the basics. If you get into the habit of looking after your skin properly through eating a healthy diet, exercise, keeping hydrated as well as cleansing and moisturising properly, you will quickly find that your skin looks and feels younger and healthier.

Authored by:

Dr Amel Ibrahim
Aesthetic Doctor & Medical Director
Founder City Skin Clinic
Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England
Associate Member of British Association of Body Sculpting GMC Registered - 7049611

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