Moisturise Me!

Published on Jan 12, 2020 Last updated on Jan 12, 2019

Moisturiser are an essential but optional part of a skincare routine. Why optional? It is because not using it will not result in drastic consequences. However, depending on your skin type, you may need the extra moisture to help you along for your skin concerns.

I mean, even humans 5 billion years in the future still need to be moisturised to survive, so don't take moisturising lightly!

100 points to you if you got the Doctor Who joke

What is a moisturiser?

A moisturiser is a type of product that provides long-lasting moisture to your skin. The method of which it provides and traps moisture varies according to the main ingredients. They usually consist of ingredients that trap moisture (known as humectants) and ingredients that form a protective layer on your skin (known as occlusives).

This is needed because your skin naturally loses water to the air. The fancy scientific term for this phenomenon is called transepidermal water loss and is often abbreviated to TEWL or TWL. This occurs naturally, just like how water evaporates into the air. This is where moisturisers come in, to act as gatekeepers at the skin to prevent too much water from escaping free.

Lotions, creams, gels

Lotions are usually lighter and thinner than their cream counterparts. Lotions may have a milky or watery texture. Creams are usually thick in texture, and moisturise for longer as a result. Some creams may leave a waxy or sticky texture on the skin after application, which would be the occlusive ingredients hard at work.

Gels refer to products that have a jelly-like texture. These are typically lighter than lotions. The difference between gels and lotions are minimal, and you can typically treat them as one and the same.

Face moisturisers vs body moisturisers

Skincare companies may state that a moisturiser is intended for face use or for body use. This distinction comes about because of several factors.

Firstly, the skin around your face is, on average, thinner than the skin around your body. This means that the product meant for body skin may have enhanced skin penetrating ingredients to allow the moisture-trapping ingredients to work better.

Secondly, facial moisturisers are usually thinner in nature as they may be later layered with other prouducts like makeup. This lets the skin feel less heavy and more “natural”. This is in contrast with body skin, which usually does not have any layers on top and can be use lots of occlusive-type ingredients without the skin feeling overly heavy.

This does not mean that a product labelled for “body use” is only allowed for use on the body, it just means that the face variation would be lighter and have a consistency likened to a lotion.

Choosing a moisturiser

When choosing your first daily moisturiser, we will be aiming for something that is all-round versatile and flexible. We want something that can be used for both the face and the body (if necessary). Hence, we will select a lotion, which will be light enough for face use.

There are also several factors that we will need to consider:

  1. your skin dryness
  2. humidity

Skin dryness refers to the amount of facial oil that your skin produces. People will fall into two categories: dry and oily.

The usual way to determine which category you are in, is to cleanse your face, pat dry it, and then leave your face bare-skinned for one to two hours. You will be able to tell if your skin produces facial oils naturally, or if it does not. If your skin does not produce much facial oil and your skin is dry to the touch, then your skin is of the dry category. On the flip side, if your skin becomes an oil slick and produces so much oil that your skin starts to shine like an overexcited moon, then you are of the oily skin category.

Note that I do not make a distinction for persons with some areas of dry skin and some areas of oily skin. In skincare lingo, this is called “combination skin”, but these are just buzzwords and don't really mean much. So long as you have oily skin (regardless of where), you are of the oily skin category.

The climate of where you live will also affect how you need to moisturise your skin. High humidity levels can reduce the amount of water loss of your skin (as there is already a high level of moisture in the air), while low humidity levels can increase the level of water loss. The strength of your moisturiser would change according to the humidity level of which you are in.

In general, you can use the following table to know the type of moisturiser that you will need:

Skin Types Low Humidity High Humidity
Dry Heavy Cream Light Cream or Heavy Lotion
Oily Light or Heavy Cream Light Lotion or Gels

For combination skin types, you may wish to use different moisturisers for different areas of your face, or use an advanced technique of layering. It is advised to start with moisturisers suited for oily skin first, and then add or change your moisturiser as necessary.

Buying your moisturiser

Just as how we shortlisted the cleansers for you to choose from, you're going to do the exact same for your first moisturiser. We're aiming for simplicity and speed here, not for analysis paralysis.

We're going to select a lotion first. Take the first and most popular one that matches your skin concerns.

Using your moisturiser

After your cleanse with your face wash, pat dry your face with a towel. Your face does not have to be totally dry when applying your moisturiser. So long as the product does not slide off your face, it is fine.

How you apply your moisturiser depends on the texture of your moisturiser.

If it is of a watery consistency, drip out a three to five drops of the lotion into your hand, rub both your hands together so that the product is on both hands, then use both hands to apply the product to your face, using firm pats with your hands to allow the product to sink in. Allow the product to dry.

If it is of a thicker consistency, like a cream or lotion, squeeze out a pea-sized amount into your hand, rub both hands together, then apply with firm pats onto the entirety of the skin. Dispense more product if it is insufficient.

Product layering for moisturisers

Product layering is the practice of applying thin layers of product on top of each other. This technique is particularly useful for moisturisers, as outer layers may have more protective-barrier (occlusive-type) products, while inner layers may have more moisture trapping (humectant-type) products. Of course, this only works when you have two different products that you want to apply back to back.

When trying to layer moisturisers, the rule of thumb is that products should be applied from the thinnest consistency to the thickest. Furthermore, the outermost layer should be the most occlusive-type product in your skincare arsenal. Basically, thin to heavy.

Layering product is not necessary or essential for you at this stage, so don't fret about it if you don't have multiple moisturisers to try it out. You'll be able to do so later as you slowly expand your skinare stash and knowledge.

Evaluating your moisturiser

The main thing to be watching and evaluating when testing moisturisers, is the feeling and texture to touch of your skin after applying the moisturiser.

For testing if a moisturiser is good to be used in daytime, there area a few factors to watch out for:

  1. How fast the moisturiser is absorbed. When applying products after the moisturiser step (such as sunscreen and makeup), we don't want to have residual moisturiser piling up and affecting the subsequent products that we apply. Try to aim for a non-sticky skin surface. Thus, morning routines tend to have lighter moisturisers with fast absorption times.
  2. Is there a colour cast. Some moisturisers may leave a white cast on your skin, which may affect your skin tone and subsequent application of products.

For testing if a moisturiser is good to be used in night-time, there is nothing much to check for. This is because you will be sleeping soon after applying your evening routine, so the moisturiser that you use can be as thick and hydrating as you want. Just don't overdo it, because if you go to sleep with unabsorbed product all over your face, you will inadvertently be rubbing off the product onto your pillowcase while sleeping. Don't waste your product!

What now?

By now, your full routine product lineup will ressemble the following:

  1. Oil-solvent cleanser (not necessary in mornings)
  2. Normal cleanser (optional in mornings)
  3. Moisturiser

This is starting to look like real progress! How's your skin feeling now, more refreshed, brighter and more radiant than before? Just as I thought. This is just the beginning!