Here's the ultimate guide for choosing the perfect moisturizer for your skin

The right skincare routine will vary depending on your skin type, but one thing is sure: whether you have oily, dry, or normal skin, you still need to moisturize! If you have oily skin, it may seem unnecessary or too much, but using the right moisturizer can actually help minimize your skin’s oil production. Finding “The One” can take some effort but it’s not impossible, as long as you know the basic guidelines on how to shop for moisturizer!

Look out for allergens

Allergens are not necessarily a standard for everyone. Your friend may get an allergic reaction from using a certain product even if you don’t experience the same thing. Some people may be more sensitive or allergic to certain ingredients, even if those ingredients are safe for most people. However, there are ingredients that cause an allergic reaction more than others. These are fragrances and parabens.

If you are on the sensitive side (you may observe this if you frequently experience bad effects from using different products), you’ll need to be more careful with what’s in your skincare. For example, “unscented” products aren’t necessarily fragrance-free! Make sure to read the label and check for ingredients like phthalates, diethyl phthalate (DEP), and fragrance, which are common allergy triggers.

Preservatives are necessary for product stability and longevity. In fact, they may even be beneficial for sensitive skin since they help ensure that the products you’re using don’t become overrun with bacteria and turn bad. Commonly used preservatives include ingredients like methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben, which are stable and non-sensitizing.

There’s some controversy regarding the use of phthalates and parabens in cosmetics, but the science stands. The USFDA has reviewed the safety and toxicity data for phthalates, and they have yet to find an association between the use of phthalates in cosmetic products and a health risk. The same is true for parabens, which have been cleared by strict regulating bodies like that of the European Union as safe to use at up to 0.14% concentration.

If you suspect that you may be allergic to a product, first observe its effects on your skin. Allergic reactions generally include stinging, burning, swelling, rashes, and pain. Usually, these effects won’t show immediately, but the reactions can get stronger with each exposure to the allergen. If you’ve identified an allergic reaction, stop using the product and consult with your doctor for proper treatment.

Are they comedogenic?

Comedogenicity is the tendency of a product to clog pores. Some products would be labeled as “non-comedogenic” or would have a low score on the comedogenicity scale, but the use of this label is not well-regulated. It also doesn’t necessarily mean that a non-comedogenic won’t cause cause acne.

Some people have a higher tendency to develop comedones more than others. Some people also have larger pores than others, as determined by their genetics. And this is different people can have different experiences of the same product. If you are particularly prone to getting clogged pores, you may want to watch out for ingredients like acetylated lanolin alcohol, cetearyl alcohol, cetyl acetate, cocoa butter, coconut butter, isocetyl alcohol, isopropyl isostearate, isopropyl linoleate, isopropyl myristate, laureth, and myristyl myristate. This is not a definitive list but can give you an idea of what might cause comedones.

Choose to see beyond the “all-natural” and “organic” labels

Some people might want to choose to go “all-natural” or only buy products that are labeled “organic”. Unfortunately, not all products actually have the proper certification to make these claims. These labels also do not mean that a product is better for your skin. For example, olive oil is a common ingredient used in natural products, and surprisingly, it promotes water evaporation from the skin. So instead of moisturizing, it would actually dehydrate your skin!

If you want to focus on botanically-derived ingredients, good options include sunflower oil, coconut oil, and shea butter - they are protective and likely free from allergens. But depending on your skin type and needs, these alone may not be enough to moisturize your skin.

Different levels of moisturization

Apart from keeping skin soft and smooth, moisturizers can resolve issues like dryness, flakiness, redness, and itchiness. There are three main types of moisturizers, which differ according to how they function:

  • Humectants reduce the loss of moisture and help to retain it instead. Examples are propylene glycol, hexylene glycol, butylene glycol, aloe vera gel, alpha hydroxy acids, molasses, sorbitol, and glycerol/glycerin. Acids like hyaluronic acid and alpha hydroxy acids can have humectant properties, too, which means they attract moisture to the skin.

  • Occlusives serve as a physical barrier to prevent loss of moisture, and protects the skin from irritants. Examples of occlusives are lanolin, mineral oil, dimethicone, silicone, waxes, and white petrolatum. These are usually thick and greasy, so if you have oily skin, you may not want to use this on your face. These ingredients are really good though, and you can use them on drier parts of your body like your elbows, knees, and heels.

  • Emollients are ingredients that protect, moisturize, soften, and lubricate the skin. They are also occlusive agents but use fatty acids and oils. Examples are jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, shea butter, ureas, and petroleum jelly.

Choosing the right moisturizer based on your skin type and other conditions

Different skin types require different products. If you have oily skin, make sure to use a light moisturizer, usually something with humectants. If your skin is on the drier side, you can opt to use emollients and occlusives. You can use any of the different types if you have normal skin, and combine different products if you have combination skin. For example, you can use light moisturizer on an oily T-zone and a heavier one on the dryer parts of your face. Skin also becomes drier in colder weather, so you may want to use heavier moisturizers for the meantime.

Knowing these guidelines, it may be a bit easier to find the right moisturizer for your needs! Of course, we have a few favorites that you can start with:

In Her Element Rose Gel Serum Moisturizer (P895 at

This lovely moisturizer contains aloe leaf juice that moisturizes the skin. It’s the first ingredient on the list so you get a product that’s full of humectants, and it also has oils to lock in moisture. Aside from hydrating skin, it also has actives like vitamin C and phytocollagen which help to improve skin’s appearance. We recommend it for all skin types.

Human Nature Sunflower Oil (P174.75 at

Made from pure sunflower seed oil, this product is hypoallergenic and fragrance-free. Light application of the product lessens the greasy feeling. Sunflower oil is HHN’s best-seller and they’ve expanded the line to include a more luxe version with rose flower oil, and the new Sunflower Beauty Oil Bloom which is lightly scented with a natural fragrance.

Muji’s Moisturizing Milk Moisture (P595 at Muji)

The minimalist packaging seems to reflect the straightforward formulation, which is free from alcohol, parabens, and perfumes. It’s very light but moisturizing, thanks to the glycerin content. It’s a good option for oily and sensitive skin.

Origins Drink Up Intensive (P1,500 at Origins)

This overnight mask contains glycerin, dimethicone, hydroxyl urea, avocado oil, and orange peel oil among a lot of other moisturizers. It feels rich but not heavy on the skin. Dry skin types will love this.

Innisfree Green Tea Seed Cream (P740 at Innisfree)

The famous Korean brand recently arrived in our shores, and the Green Tea line has some of their best-sellers. This cream contains glycerol, methyl trimethicone, stearyl dimethicone, and Camellia sinensis (Green tea) seed oil. Despite the name, it’s actually a lightweight product that’s good for those with normal to oily skin.

Finding the right product can take a lot of work and time, but when you get the one that makes your skin soft, plump, and moisturized, it will all be worth it! Of course, consulting with a dermatologist will be a great help, and we recommend looking for product reviews from users with the same skin type. Make sure to always test a product first on a small area of skin before slathering it all over your face to reduce the risk of allergic reactions.

What are your favorite moisturizers? Let us know in the comments below!


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Draelos ZD, DiNardo JC. A re-evaluation of the comedogenicity concept. 2006 Mar [accessed 2019 Jan 15].

Wong M. Fact-check: How to Use Comedogenicity Ratings – Lab Muffin Beauty Science. Lab Muffin Beauty Science. 2018 Nov 21 [accessed 2019 Jan 15].