We all know what a moisturiser does (errrm… it moisturises!) – but what exactly goes is a moisturiser, how does it work and how do you pick the best one for you?

Your skin is simply amazing. It’s an incredibly complex and miraculous creation of nature. It’s our waterproof barrier. It’s a defence against disease. It’s constantly growing and replacing itself. It stretches, yet retains its form. And when we’re hurt, it heals itself.

Skincare Skin Layers Diagram

The Layers of Human Skin

Keratinocytes, the main type of skin cells, migrate up from the dermis and undergo many changes to become a flat, keratin-rich corneocyte before shedding. During this progression through the layers of the epidermis, lipids are released into the spaces between cells and the skin’s own natural moisturising factor is generated.

These lipids form a barrier to help prevent water loss and retain skin’s natural moisturising factor. Through the stresses of modern life – pollution, all-night benders, harsh cleansers & more can disrupt this lipid matrix and hydration loss can lead to dry, flaky skin.

Moisturisers are used to slow water evaporating, and restore the original soft texture and look of your skin. There are three basic types of ingredients commonly found in moisturisers:


Emollients are moisturisers that soften and condition the skin without actually adding moisture to it. They do this by filling in the gaps between skin cells to improve the appearance of dry patches and make the skin more flexible. They are essential ingredients in products designed to soothe dry skin and work particularly well on conditions like eczema and psoriasis.


Humectants grab onto water from the surrounding environment and draw it to your skin, and keep it there. It also draws some water from deeper layers of your skin (dermis) into the surface layers (epidermis), which can be counterproductive as it’ll speed up water evaporation into the environment, care is needed not to use too much.


Similar in some ways to emollients, occlusive moisturisers slow down evaporation of water from skin by forming a thin film over the skin. They are mainly oil based meaning they leave a slightly greasy sheen over the skin, which can block the pores if used on oily and acne-prone skins. They don’t increase the moisture levels of the skin but can help prevent water reserves from being drained by external stressors.

Emollients, Occlusives, and Humectants – Which moisturiser one should you chose?

Each of these moisturiser types has a different action when it comes to moisturising your skin. To achieve the best moisturisation, your moisturiser has to combine all three elements – it’s not as easy as pouring in a gallon of mineral oil, a dollop of propylene glycol and a squirt of silicone. Occlusives may in fact result in pimples, whereas some humectants can be too irritating for people with dry or sensitive skin.

The art in getting the ratio correct is to start off with the right ingredients. At R10 Labs, we use different moisturising ingredients in different proportions in our skincare range, to effectively moisturise your skin at every level because we understand how important it is to moisturise daily.

In this study from the British Journal of Dermatology, those who used moisturiser were found to develop wrinkles at a fraction of the rate of those with dry skin. For men, moisturising is particularly important. In another study, researchers found that being a male makes one more likely to show signs of ageing.

The science in skincare is our ongoing series helping consumers better understand the science in skincare. We translate the science into a format that is much easier to read, bust the myths and give you a clear, transparent and honest assessment so you can make an informed choice of what goes onto your skin.

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By |2018-10-25T00:11:27+00:00October 25th, 2018|Skincare Science|0 Comments

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