March 5, 2024

How To Pick The Right Moisturizer [For All Skin Types]

Written by our expert


Avanthika Nityanand

M.Sc Human Genetics, B.Sc Plant Biology & Plant Biotechnology

How To Pick The Right Moisturizer [For All Skin Types]
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Maintaining healthy skin is a cornerstone of overall well-being and confidence.

Among many skincare rituals, moisturizing stands out for its fundamental role in nurturing the skin's barrier, ensuring hydration, and preserving youthfulness.

Moisturizers are not a one-size-fits-all solution; they come in various formulations to cater to the unique needs of different skin types.

Understanding how moisturizers work and selecting the right one can significantly impact skin health, texture, and appearance.

Moisturizers primarily draw moisture into the skin, trapping existing moisture to build the skin's protective barrier or both.

This is crucial for maintaining the skin's look and feel and protecting it against environmental stresses such as pollution and dry air.

Using the right moisturizer can improve hydration, reduce the appearance of fine lines, and give you a healthy, glowing complexion.

This guide can help you identify your skin type, understand the key ingredients to look for in a moisturizer and select a product that meets your skin's unique needs.

You'll find valuable insights and recommendations to enhance your skincare routine, whether you have dry, oily, combination, normal, or sensitive skin.

Understanding Skin Types

The first step in choosing the right moisturizer is understanding your skin type, as each has its characteristics and requirements.

All Skin Types

Let's explore each of the five primary skin types and the best moisturizing strategies.

Normal Skin

Characteristics: Balanced oil and moisture content, few imperfections, and a smooth texture. Moisturizer Recommendations: Lightweight, non-greasy formulas that maintain skin's natural balance.

Dry Skin

Signs: Roughness, flakiness, tightness, and a dull complexion.

Ideal Moisturizer Ingredients: Look for hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin and emollients like squalane and shea butter to repair the skin barrier.

Read in more detail: Why Does Your Skin Stay Dry Even After Moisturizing?

Oily Skin

How to Balance: Choose oil-free, water-based moisturizers that contain hyaluronic acid or glycerin to hydrate the skin without adding excess oil.

Combination Skin

Tackling Both Oily and Dry Areas: Opt for lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturizers that offer balance, focusing on oil-free formulations for oily areas and more hydrating products for dry patches.

Sensitive Skin

Avoiding Irritants: Fragrance-free, hypoallergenic formulas with soothing ingredients like aloe vera and chamomile are ideal to prevent irritation.

Key Ingredients in Moisturizers

When examining moisturizer labels, you'll encounter a plethora of ingredients, each serving a unique purpose.

Here's a breakdown of the most beneficial ones, categorized by their primary function.


  • Hyaluronic Acid: A humectant that can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water, ideal for all skin types, especially dry and aging skin. [ref]
  • Glycerin: Another humectant that draws moisture from the air into the skin, offering hydration without a heavy feel, making it suitable for even oily and combination skin. [ref]


  • Squalane: A stable, non-irritating emollient that mimics the skin's natural oils, perfect for improving skin texture and softness. [ref]
  • Ceramides: Lipid molecules that replenish the skin's barrier, preventing moisture loss and protecting against environmental aggressors. [ref]


  • Petrolatum: Known for its ability to lock in moisture, it is best suited for extremely dry or chapped skin.
  • Beeswax: Provides a breathable barrier on the skin's surface, sealing in moisture more naturally.

Special Ingredients for Specific Needs

  • Niacinamide: A form of Vitamin B3 that helps regulate oil production, reduces inflammation, and improves skin texture, making it a reliable ingredient for oily and acne-prone skin. [ref]
  • Salicylic Acid: A beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) that exfoliates the skin, unclogs pores and is particularly beneficial for oily and acne-prone skin types. [ref]

Also read: Is Glycolic Acid Good For Your Skin?

Additional Factors to Consider

Selecting the right moisturizer isn't solely about skin type and ingredients; other factors play a significant role in your choice.

Impact of Seasons and Climate

Your skin's needs can change with the seasons. To combat dryness in winter, you might need a heavier, more occlusive moisturizer, while in summer, you might need a lighter, water-based formula.

SPF in Moisturizers

Incorporating sun protection into your daily skincare routine is crucial. Many moisturizers now include SPF, providing hydration and protection against UV damage in one step.

Non-comedogenic Formulas

Choosing moisturizers labeled non-comedogenic for acne-prone skin is essential, meaning they won't clog pores or exacerbate acne.

How to Test and Select a Moisturizer

Finding the perfect moisturizer often involves trial and error. Here's how to navigate the testing process effectively.

Patch Testing for Reactions

Before committing to a full-sized product, apply a small amount of moisturizer to a discreet area of your skin (such as behind the ear) to test for any adverse reactions over 24-48 hours.

crop woman with swatches on skin
Photo by Monstera Production on

Understanding Labels and Marketing Terms

Familiarize yourself with terms like "hypoallergenic," "non-comedogenic," and "for sensitive skin," but remember, these are not regulated terms. Reviews and ingredient lists offer more reliable insights.

Tips for Sampling Products

Many brands offer sample sizes or return policies that allow you to try products risk-free. Take advantage of these opportunities to find the best fit for your skin.

Recommended Products for Each Skin Type

To assist in your search for the ideal moisturizer, here are some highly recommended products for each skin type, ranging from budget-friendly to luxury options.

For Dry Skin

For Oily Skin

For Combination Skin

  • CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion: Lightweight and includes niacinamide to regulate oil production.
  • Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment SPF 30: A dual-purpose product that moisturizes and reduces redness.

For Sensitive Skin

  • Aveeno Ultra-Calming Nourishing Night Cream: Fragrance-free and contains soothing oats and feverfew.
  • Eau Thermale Avène Skin Recovery Cream: Designed for hypersensitive skin, offering calming relief.


Choosing the right moisturizer is a pivotal step in any skincare routine, directly influencing your skin's health and appearance. By understanding your skin type, recognizing key ingredients, and considering factors like the climate and SPF, you can select a product that meets your specific needs.

Remember, what works for someone else may not work for you, so embrace the discovery process and consultation with dermatologists when necessary. With the right moisturizer, your skin can achieve optimal balance, revealing a hydrated, healthy complexion.

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