The Essential Guide to the Best Facial Moisturizer

Updated 01/09/20

We live in a youth-orientated society, as a result, we are definitely seeing a shift in skincare.

Savvy consumers are taking responsibility for their skin health, requiring more effective results from their facial moisturizer.

Today, cosmetic companies, with their multiple claims and seemingly endless active ingredients, are leading the forefront in this billion-dollar beauty industry.

But what exactly constitutes a good moisturiser? And how will we ever know?

With so many products lining the department store shelves, you can be forgiven for being confused.

Fortunately, at the Naked Chemist, we have you covered with our ingredient know-how, we’ve broken down what constitutes the best facial moisturizer, making it easy for you to sort through the various categories.

The difference between a good moisturizer and a great one is striking the balance among them – especially when it comes to the following four-ingredient categories:

The Skin Hydrators

Gorgeous humectants increase the moisture content of our skin.

Our skin naturally contains saccharide isomerate, urea, sodium PCA, amino acids, and hyaluronic acid – all very important ingredients found in our natural skin moisturiser.

It is worth noting here, that some exfoliating acids do function as humectants, and tat low concentrations, you may find them in your moisturizer. Look out for water-soluble AHAs like glycolic, lactic, and mandelic. Avoid BHAs – these are oil-soluble and don’t attract water as the AHAs do.

The Skin Smoothers

Emollients stay on top of the skin to keep it supple and smooth.

They are useful at preventing humectants from evaporating too quickly – for this reason, we always recommend applying your humectant product first and then layering with an emollient-rich moisturiser.

The best emollients are barrier lipids that fill the gaps in the cell wall. These include ceramides and fatty acids found in fortify barrier repair cream. The ingredients found in these formulas are the exact same ratio found in your skin and are really important when it comes to maintaining your protective barrier. They truly moisturize the skin, reduce flaking, and restoring suppleness.

Other skin-smoothing emollients include vitamin E and botanical oils – our favorite is jojoba and squalane, which mimic the sebum in the skin, so they absorb easily.

The Skin Sealers

Occlusives are protective and stay on the skin’s surface and evaporate slowly.

What separates a lotion from rich creams or balms is the occlusive, especially like beeswax, cocoa butter, and caprylic triglycerides. The thin film left behind by an emollient might be enough if your skin is oily or combination, but if you have a lipid dry skin, an occlusive will help your skin feel moisturised longer.

A natural occlusive like cholesterol is the thickest of barrier lipids and is found in our ceramide barrier repair balm, which works synergistically with your skin.

Cosmeceutical’s the skin repairers

Cosmeceutical is a term that refers to substances that exert both a cosmetic and therapeutic effect on the skin – they are both part cosmetic and part prescription.

In the past, it used to be that the distinction was clear about what constitutes the best facial moisturizer – a cosmetic was a product for the beautician, and the enhancement of appearance and taking a drug or prescription was used to prevent or treat a disease, now that distinction has become more blurred since cosmeceuticals have come on the scene.

For further reading on the importance of cosmeceuticals in skincare, we have created a whole article.

Cosmeceutical claims

  • Helps repair dermal tissue
  • Generates new collagen growth
  • Boosts fibroblasts
  • Reduces the appearance of sun damage
  • will smooth fine lines and wrinkles
  • Stimulates cellular renewal
  • Will plump skin tissue
  • Helps restore the skin back to a youthful glow
  • Visibly lightens the skin helping with sunspots and pigmentations
  • Generally improves areas that differentiate from old and youthful skin

The naked truth

There are a lot of other ingredients that make up a moisturizer, that doesn’t fall within these categories, like skin-soothing extracts, preservatives, and skin-building proteins.

But once you get to grips with these major categories, you can break down all moisturizers into its simplified form, making it easier to decode a new product.

Keeping your skin youthful and glowing for many years to come.


The correct order to apply your skincare routine:
Caring for your face:
How to build the best skincare routine:
Skincare tips for men:

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