Body Care

What Are The Different Types of Moisturising Agents?

Posted on : 12.22.2015 Updated on : 09.27.2018
Types of moisturising agents

Keeping the skin moisturised and hydrated is important for the maintenance of soft, plump and youthful looking skin. A moisturiser will help the skin stay soft, supple and hydrated by reducing water loss from the skin. To formulate an affective moisturiser, it needs to contain a certain balance of moisturising ingredients.

What Are The Different Moisturising Ingredients?

A moisturiser should contain moisturising ingredients from at least one of the three classes of moisturising agents – humectants, emollients and occludents.


Humectants pulls/absorbs moisture from the environment and work kind of like sponges that sucks up moisture and delivers it to the skin. One such ingredient is glycerin, which is commonly found in moisturisers and shown to improve hydration in the skin1.


Emollients are ingredients that trap water in the skin. This helps the most outer layer of skin to swell and close the cracks in dry skin1. They however do not effect the water levels of the skin 2. Emollients also help to prevent the penetration of irritants and improve the appearance of skin by smoothing down flaky skin 1. Some common emollients used in skin care are safflower oil, alcohols benzoate and liquid paraffin (paraffinum liquidum).


Occludents form a barrier on the skin and restrict water from escaping the skin and trapping the moisture in the upper most layer of the skin. Occludents are very effective at preventing moisture loss and petrolatum – a type of occludent is thought to be one of the most effective moisturisers for dry skin.

These ingredients mimic the features the skin uses to help prevent your skin from dehydrating, they’re also important to look at in a good skin care regimen.

Some More Skin Care Tips to Avoid Skin Dehydration

One of the key steps to a good skincare regimen is to avoid soap as it can strip away the skin’s natural layer of protection, drying the skin even more. Soaps can also contain common irritants, such as fragrance, which may aggravate dry and sensitive skin. Remember to moisturise frequently including immediately after bathing or cleansing. Keeping the skin moisturised helps maintain the natural barrier function.

During the day, the skin will benefit from a moisturiser to help prevent dehydration which can be caused by sun exposure, air-conditioning, and a host of other factors.

The skin around the eyes is also more susceptible to dehydration and poor oxygen flow. A moisturiser specifically tailored to meet the needs of the skin around the eyes will help maintain healthy looking skin in that area.


1. Greive K. Cleansers and moisturisers: the basics. Wound Practice and Research 2015; 23 (2):76-81
2. Harvard Health Letter. Moisturizers: Do they work?. Harvard Health Publishing 2008. 


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