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What to Avoid When Choosing a Moisturizer

More isn’t always better when it comes to the list of ingredients in a moisturizer. To get the most benefit for your skin, avoid some popular extras.

  • Colorings and perfumes. Whether you want to moisturize dry skin, sensitive skin, or something in between, most experts say to avoid unnecessary and potentially irritating ingredients, like added colors and perfumes. Antibacterial agents can also be unnecessarily harsh, stripping skin of essential oils.
  • Body-friendly ingredients. What’s good for your body isn’t always good for your face. Cambio suggests avoiding facial moisturizers with popular body product ingredients like lanolin, mineral oil, waxes, or shea butter. "These can clog pores and cause acne on the face,” she says.
  • Too many acids. Avoid alpha-hydroxy acids, glycolic acid, retinoic acid, and salicylic acid if you have dry or sensitive skin. These ingredients may penetrate the skin too deeply and trouble delicate skin. Stay away from products with alcohols as well.
  • Overusing steroidal ingredients (for itchy skin). Limit your use of steroid cream or ointment to only one or two weeks unless your doctor recommends using it longer. Overusing these creams can make skin very thin and lead to other skin problems.
  • Urea or Lactic acids (for eczema or cracked skin). Stay away from moisturizers that contain these dry-skin friendly ingredients. They can aggravate existing skin irritations.

3 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Skin Moisturizer

  • Use more than one moisturizer (if you need to). Nobody needs a cabinet full of moisturizing products. But a thin lotion for your face and a thick cream for your body may be just right for your all-over skin care.
  • Apply your moisturizer while your skin is damp. Smooth on your favorite moisturizer a few minutes after a bath or shower. Then pat your skin dry.
  • Make your moisturizer do double-duty. Be sure your moisturizer contains a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. The pros recommend vitamin A or alpha-hydroxy acid for an anti-aging boost. Want to even out your skin tone? Look for a tinted moisturizer suitable for your complexion.