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Beginner’s Guide to Moisturizers: Find the Right One For You

Why use a moisturizer?

What’s the point of using a moisturizer? Well, there’s a ton of reasons but to put it simply it hydrates your skin. Thanks to moisturizers you can address that lack of oil, dryness, and lack of water, dehydration, in your skin. This helps to protect the skin barrier and keep your skin functioning properly! And yes, they’re helpful for even oily skin types too!

Types of moisturizers

There are different classes of moisturizers, which we cover more extensively in this article. But we’ll break it down so you get the idea! These are the types heaviest (and oiliest) to lightest.

  • Occlusives: Forms a protective layer on top of the skin to seal in water.
  • Emollients: Fills in and smooths the skin. Can be oily or light/heavy, depends on the formulation.
  • Humectants: Draws water from the air to the skin.

Check out the chart to see how you can identify occlusives, emollients and humectants on your skincare label.

Different formulations

Based on the formulation, you can find different textures and benefits. So let’s take a look at them:

  • Lotions: Higher water percentage with more humectants and less occlusives. Light weight and easily absorbed.
  • Creams: Lower water percentage with more occlusives and emollients. Thicker consistency.
  • Milks: Similar to lotions, but have more flow. Fast absorption and thin consistency.
  • Gels: Higher water percentage and full of humectants. Usually oil-free.

Moisturizer by skin type

Oily and acne-prone

This skin type should go for the lighter textured lotions and gels. Some active ingredients to look for are AHAs and BHAs. Avoid occlusives and heavy emollients like lanolin, mineral oil and petrolatum since they can clog pores and create more acne!


Thicker texture creams are best for dry skin types. Look for a combo of occlusives, emollients and humectants. Ingredients like oatmeal, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, propylene glycol and ceramides are great for drier skin types! But avoid too many acids like AHAs and BHAs along with alcohols.


Search for hypoallergenic and fragrance-free moisturizers and try to keep the ingredient INCI list low, below 10! Check the label for ceramides and niacinamide, they’ll help repair your skin barrier. Avoid fragrances, essential oils, alcohol, witch hazel and colorants.

Picky’s Picks

Oily and acne prone

Iunik – Centella Calming Gel Cream

A soothing and light gel texture that absorbs quick into the skin! Has great ingredients for acne prone skin and oily skin types such as centella asiatica, tea tree leaf water and multiple other naturally sourced extracts! Check out some reviews for it on Picky!


Illiyoon – Ceramide Ato Concentrate Cream

Dry skin types will appreciate this ceramide rich cream. No alcohol included! This cream is a concentrated and slightly thicker formula to help repair and strengthen the skin barrier, as well as hydrate and lock in moisture.


Purito – Centella Unscented Recovery Cream

A vegan friendly, fragrance and essential free cream that will make sensitive skin happy. Includes 50% of centella asiatica and helps soothe any irritated skin!

More Moisturizers

We have a bunch of articles about moisturizers if this didn’t satisfy you! Check them out here. Or head to the Picky app and see which moisturizers people are talking about on the Discuss board! You can learn a lot from the Picky skincare community. Make sure to follow us on Instagram for more fun skincare science content.

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