Are all moisturizers created equal? Can you become addicted to lip balm? Read on for the answers to these and other myths and truths about moisturizers.
Moisturizing lotion and lip balm are staples in many women’s beauty regimens. Many of us just slap them on without much thought—after all, skin cream is skin cream, right? We talked to Dr. Mark Lupin, a dermatologist and director of the Cosmedica dermatology centre in Victoria, B.C., about common misconceptions related to skin lotions and lip balms. Read this before your next trip to the drugstore or cosmetic counter.
1. Myth: All moisturizers are the same.
Truth: There are several types of moisturizers you can choose from, according to your skin's needs. Humectants, such as glycerin and lactic acid, attract water and help skin retain moisture. Emollients, such as fatty acids and ceramides, soften and soothe. Occlusives (known as “barrier creams”), such as petrolatum, dimethicone or lanolin, leave a film on the surface of the skin and seal in moisture.
Most products contain a combination of humectants, emollients and occlusives, so it’s easiest to choose a moisturizer based on your skin type—there are formulas for oily or acne-prone skin (look for “oil-free” and “non-comedogenic” on the label); sensitive skin; and dry or mature skin.
You’ll also notice that moisturizers have different textures. (Occlusives tend to be the heaviest of the bunch.) “Lotions are light, and creams are a little more substantial,” explains Lupin. “For anyone with dry or extra-dry skin, you want something that has more substance—it’s better to use a cream, which tends to protect skin better than lotion.”
Skin tends to be drier in colder months, so use a cream in fall and winter, and switch to a lotion for warmer weather.