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Moisturizers | Ingredients to look for

When looking for a moisturizer, consider looking for these ingredients to see if some of these are present to help your skin look and feel more hydrated. Read more...



moisturizer ingredients

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Hyaluronic acid (HA) tops the list of ingredients because it seems to have topped the list from a Google search or SEO perspective. It is not necessarily the best moisturizing ingredient but it is good. HA is very effective at drawing moisture to it.

The name "hyaluronic acid" can be a little confusing and misleading to some of my patients for a variety of reasons.

  1. They worry that it might be irritating because of the word "acid".

  2. Some people may think hyaluronan is preferable to hyaluronic acid because they falsely think it is less acidic.

  3. Some people falsely think that Hyaluronic acid ON the skin will provide the same effect as injected INto the skin as we do with fillers.


moisturizer ingredients


So what's the deal?

  1. Hyaluronic acid or hyaluronan is acidic but not necessarily more acidic than your skin. Our skin's natural pH is acidic. Skincare products such as moisturizers should aim to match this pH to avoid disrupting the delicate balance our skin maintains as a natural defense mechanism against microorganisms.

  2. Hyaluronic acid and hyaluronan are the same thing. Both terms apply to the same ingredient.

  3. Hyaluronic acid applied on top of the skin does not fill under the skin. It actually draws moisture to itself and hydrates the skin at the surface. This may give the temporary appearance of minimizing fine lines and wrinkles.

Misconceptions about Hyaluronic Acid

Reality about Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid can be drying for the skin because it's an acid.

The pH of hyaluronic acid is acidic but not necessarily more acidic than your skin which also maintains a pH in the acidic range.

Hyaluronan is less drying than hyaluronic acid.

Hyaluronan and hyaluronic acid are the same.

Hyaluronic acid topically can give similar results to injecting hyaluronic acid.

Injecting hyaluronic acid into the skin as a filler is similar to implant and gives actual results to physically change the appearance of deep lines and wrinkles for months. Topically hyaluronic acid is a moisturizer.

In spite of these common misconceptions, HA is a wonderful ingredient for dry skin if used correctly. Depending on your climate and the amount of humidity in the air, it may need the benefit of an additional moisturizer on top. The main reason for this is that if the skin is excessively dry, the HA will still "seek" moisture to draw into it. HA may paradoxically dry your skin further if it doesn’t find it!! If you are in a dry climate that lacks humidity, remember to apply a moisturizer on top so it can pull this extra hydration in from the product.


Glycerin is in so many products for dry skin. It’s a common ingredient that, similar to Hyaluronic acid, draws moisture like a sponge. These types of products are called humectants- they literally attract moisture into the skin. Glycerin is lightweight, mild, and very effective at keeping the skin hydrated. Before the "product explosion" of countless ingredients these days that draw consumers based on SEO traction for singular ingredient names, I used to often recommend for excessively dry skin just buy glycerin and mix it with a regular moisturizer to help the product spread easier, hydrate, and not leave the skin feeling too greasy. You can still do that and save a lot of money...


Panthenol is another humectant which makes it ideal as a serum for dry skin as it attracts moisture as well. This one is also found commonly in hair products designed to trap moisture and protect the hair follicles.

Niacinamide is also known as vitamin B3. Although this can hydrate the skin as well, most of its reputation is built on its anti-inflammatory effects. It’s been used as an add-on for acne treatments for years to reduce the redness and inflammation associated with breakouts. For dry skin, most people will start with what appears to be ashy and dry skin. If this lingers too long without being addressed, those dry cracked areas of the skin can become inflamed and exquisitely sensitive (think of those times when you apply hand sanitizer and your skin just feels like it stings or burns.) With this concept I go back to the analogy I give my patients- think of your skin as not smooth like a wall, it’s more like a cobblestone street. When your skin dries out it’s as though the mortar that holds the bricks (your skin cells) together is breaking down. This leaves it open to any insult from the environment which will inflame and irritate your skin. Think of niacinamide as a key anti-inflammatory that will help bring down this inflammation while also hydrating your skin.

Botanical water/oil

Botanical water and/or botanical oils are very common ingredients to find in serums. They often can make product more cosmetically elegant to apply. They can be hydrating to the skin however they can be challenging. Even though these are often considered natural, they can be sensitizing for the skin. If you are treating dry skin, please look at the labels.

Vitamin E is lightweight, effective, and very very affordable! It is a cost-efficient way to deliver safe and easy moisture to your skin without leaving you feeling too greasy!

moisturizer ingredients


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