As a dermatologist with more than 10 years of clinical experience I am asked daily about the “best moisturizer.” I always answer that it comes down to personal preference but there are certain ingredients and properties to look for.
1. Emollients/Humectants: These ingredients include glycerin, hyaluronic acid, sodium hyaluronate, sodium PCA, lactic acid, and urea. Emollients actually increase the water holding capacity of the skin and lead to skin hydration. One moisturizer known as Lac-hydrin (lactic acid cream) has been shown to be so powerful in FDA trials at opening up water channels and encouraging hydration that it has been made a prescription.
2. Occlusives: These ingredients limit water evaporation from the skin. They include petrolatum, mineral oil, silicone derivatives (dimethicone, cyclomethicone), cocoa butter, sesame seed oil, etc. Plant butters and oils do not block water loss from the skin as well as petrolatum and mineral oil – however, they are more natural and thus appeal to some individuals.
So choose key ingredients in each class that appeal to you and find your ideal moisturizer!