Do you even moisturise? Learn the Science of Moisturisers. Tips included!

Moisturisers are a go to for many men and women, especially at this time of year. Slap on some cream, lotion or spread and you’re ready to go. BUT only if you understand how it works will you get the most out of it.


Since beauty and lifestyle bloggers are the most abundant, I though why not do a scientific blog with them in mind. So here we go…

There are basically three main types of moisturising ingredients:

  • Occlusives
  • Humectants
  • Emollients
Let’s go in a bit deeper:
thirty two


Basically these have a ‘fatty’ side to them. Like oils and waxes, fat repels water. In moisturisers, it blocks the passage of water out of your skin. An everyday ingredient which can be defined as ‘fatty’ is petroleum jelly.

The ingredient petrolatum is best at holding water in, followed closely by lanolin and mineral oil.


These act like water sponges. They usually suck up water from deep into your skin to the upper-most surface. They do absorb water from the air but  to a much lesser extent, especially if the air is dry.

The most common examples are glycerin, honey, panthenol (a Vitamin B5 varient), sorbitol (also used an artificial sweetner), pyrrolidone carboxylic acid (PCA) and urea.

These ingredients while beneficial can cause water to escape from the surrounding non-creamed areas. Look out for these ingredients and be sure you cover a much wider area than just the dry spot!


These are simply there to fool you in thinking the moisturiser is effective. After the drying of the skin, certain proteins are broken down leaving you with crackled skin. Ingredients like dimethicone  fill these gaps of broken protein us making your skin feel smooth.

Even though urban legends says alcohols dry up your skin and have little place in moisturisers, ingredients like octyldodecanol are excellent emollients.

Honourable Mentions:


A morphed Vitamin A (Retionic acid) is used in anti-wrinkle creams – In moisturisers as retinyl palmitate is good but less effective than the former.

Vitamins C (absorbic acid) – most probably is rendered useless in contact with the air.

Vitamin E – if the vitamin is mentioned as tocopheryl acetate, the body doesn’t make use of it. So it doesn’t do anything other than its use as a preservative.

Lactic Acid: 

Heavy Duty Humectant – to handle with care, usually used for skin over heel or calluses. Most products containing this ingredient gives you a stinging feeling after application.

Final note:

thirty two 2

The best way to moisturise is not to buy the most expensive product, but to keep up with your recommended daily water intake. In other words, DRINK WATER.

Remember, the products you buy don’t create water from thin air but helps the body cope with instances of dryness.

Second on the list, is to try to stay away from dehumidifiers and air conditioners. They both dry up the air around you and consequently your skin.



Hope you enjoyed this post!

If you want to see more please leave a comment telling me what you think! 😀


Dobos, K. (n.d.) ‘How Do Skin Moisturizers Work? – Chemists Corner’, [Online]. Available at (Accessed 17 February 2018).
Harvard Health Publishing (n.d.) Moisturizers: Do they work? [Online]. Available at (Accessed 17 February 2018).
Featured PictureH Matthew Howarth

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Words of Osiris

I'm a 33 year old soul, whose need to express himself was not satisfied by the common social media. While others vomit words with little thought, I will try my best to fill the void they have created. Born, raised, and reside on the cursed islands of Malta. I studied Sciences my whole life and always wanted to have a space where I can release my creative demons. In this blog, scientific objectiveness will meet the cry of different opinions and thought-invoking tales. Subjects will vary from the futile to the world changing.

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