How to choose the moisturizer: 3 principles

While the choice of a good concealer or a good mascara is essentially based on moisturizerits  quality/price ratio, there are more factors to be considered when  looking for a good moisturizer! That is why many women struggle with finding a product that works well on their skin.

3 key factors should be considered when looking for the right moisturizer for you:

  1. INCI,
  2. your skin type,
  3. your lifestyle.

1) The International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI)

INCI moisturizerThe International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients, abbreviated INCI, is a unified naming system for identifying the ingredient content. It is based on scientific names and other Latin and English words, so for example you’ll see “Aqua” instead of water. A list of of several common ingredients and their corresponding INCI names can be found here.

The ingredients are indicated one after the other starting from the substance present in greater quantities and up to that in smaller quantities.  If you wander what each name corresponds to, you can decode the INCI of your product here. Just type in the name of the product, and you’ll get the list of  ingredients and their explanation! If you don’t find it this way, type in the name of the brand, then choose your product from the list.

Having excluded any ingredient you are allergic to, the general recommendation is to avoid the following ingredients, often found in moisturizers:

  • petroleum/paraffin/mineral oil: chemicals  derived from petroleum (sounds scary, doesn’t it?).  dangerous ingredients moisturizerThey seal off  the skin creating a barrier that doesn’t allow the skin to breath. Petroleum derivatives can therefore clog pores and promote the development of comedonal acne;
  • parabens: commonly used to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. These chemicals can mimic hormones in the body and disrupt functions of the endocrine system.

2) Your skin type

skin typesNot every product is made for everyone! There are moisturizer with a super good INCI that may, however, not be good for your skin type. Using products that are too harsh, even if they are recommended for oily skin, may send the information to your skin that more oil is  needed. Conversely, applying moisturizers that are too heavy can result in less natural oil production, which, in turns, lead to  drier skin. Understanding  your specific skin type is a crucial step in taking  care of your skin!

What skin type are you?

  • normal skin: well balanced skin. Not too oily and not too dry.
  • dry skin: dry skin produces less sebum than normal skin. It can feel tight, and may experience flaking.
  • oily skin: this skin type is characterized by an excessive sebum production. Oily skin is prone to comedones (blackheads and whiteheads) and to  forms of acne.
  • combination skin: a combination skin is characterized by dryness on the cheeks, and an oily T-zone (forehead, chin and nose) .

The best moisturizers for dry skin are those containing hyaluronic acid (often listed as sodium hyaluronate), glycerin, and marine actives like algae. Look also for ingredients with emollient-like properties that will help keep your skin soft and smooth . Common natural emollients include squalane (derived from olive oil),  jojoba and avocado oils.

If you have oily skin, you may feel that moisturizer is your enemy, but this is a aloe moisturizermistake! Without it, your skin will become dehydrated, and it will overcompensate by producing even more oil! If your skin type is oily, look for a light oil-free moisturizer that’s labeled noncomedogenic. The formula should contain  ingredients that control sebum production, such as   dimethicone, glycolic acid, and clay. Aloe vera and antioxidants do not do any harm to oily skin, so definitely go for formulas that also include these super ingredients. Needless to say, if you suffer from moderate to severe acne, it is always a good idea to visit a dermatologist first. You’ll be given  the right treatment (often drugs that contains benzoyl peroxide) to kill the bacteria associated with acne.

Finding a good moisturizer for combination skin is a bit of a challenge. In fact, you need to keep  your cheeks hydrated, while  shining down the T-zone at the same time. It may sound impossible, but it’s not! My skin  is combination type, and after trying several products, I finally found a moisturizer that doesn’t clog my pores, and keeps my cheeks hydrated even in the cold scandinavian winters ! As for the oily type, the rule is to avoid heavy moisturizers that may clog pores. Instead, opt for an oil-free, non-comedogenic formula, that also includes dimethicone, glycolic acid, and clay to keep the sebum production under control. Since the cheeks area is much drier than the T-zone, look for formulas that include a heavy-hitting hydrator like hyaluronic acid.

Normal skin types are lucky, but this doesn’t mean they don’t need a moisturizer! If you’re lucky enough to be this skin type, a good moisturizer for combination skin is the best option for you!

3) Your lifestyle

The choice of your moisturizer should also take into account your lifestyle. How much time do you spend outside? Where do you live?

As someone who lives in a nordic country  and  spends long hours in the office, I don’t  need a moisturizer with high UV protection most of the time.  If you live, however, in sunnier countries, and find yourself spending time outside, especially during midday hours, it is very important that you choose a  moisturizer with a minimum SPF of 30.  I would also recommend wearing a hat. Stay stylish & safe!

SPF moisturizer


I hope this post will help you choose the right moisturizer for you! Please let me know, in the comment section below, what is your skin type, and if you are experiencing any particular issues  (dryness, irritation, acne etc…). I will be very happy to help you out, and target those issues in the next posts!

See you soon 🙂

14 thoughts on “How to choose the moisturizer: 3 principles

  1. Louise says:

    Hi Margherita. You sound very sincere, and passionate about beauty care&health. Thanks for sharing the link to the website for decoding the INCI. Now I can finally understand what all of those terms mean, and what I’m putting on my face! Thank you!
    Regarding your poll, I have only skin, and struggle with keeping my oily T-zone under control…

    • Margherita says:

      Thanks Louise for your kind words 🙂 I am indeed passionate about beauty care & health, and love doing research! Yes, the website is awesome! I always check the product ingredients there -it’s important to know what our skin is going to absorb!

      I understand. Keeping the sebum production under control may be a bit of a challenge. But really, it is just about finding the right products and routine for you 🙂 I will address this problem in one of my next posts. Thank you!

  2. Zasibel says:

    Thank you for this explanation. I never check ingredients for moisturizers etc, but after reading this I am going to give that a bit more attention. Those petroleums and parabens you mentioned got me a bit paranoid. But I am glad that you made me aware. I have combination skin, but also struggle with blackheads. Just can’t seem to get rid of the darn things. Would love some advice on that.

    • Margherita says:

      Hi Zasibel! Unfortunately, many moisturizers still contain petroleum derivatives and parabens. We should be careful, as our skin is going to absorb these dangerous ingredients, and on a long term this may cause harm.

      I also have combination skin, and I struggled for along time before finding the right products for my skin. Many moisturizers just made things worse because they were not truly non-comedogenic, and I ended up having even more blackheads than before. Thank you, will address this problem in one of my next articles. xxx

  3. Jamaar sampson says:

    I 100% agree with this there are things you should do to pick out the moisturizer that fits for you. Thanks again

  4. Ali says:

    What a nice post you wrote! I really enjoyed reading it and I could not be silent about your post so I decided to leave my comment here and say Thank You! For sharing this quality post with others.
    Actually this is exactly the information that I was looking for information about how to choose a good moisturizer and when I landed to your website and read this post, it answered all my questions in details.
    So I’m happy that you decided to write about this topic and share it with people. It’s very useful and can definitely be used as a great source for everyone who is interested in this topic.
    I will come back to your website again for sure and I’m looking forward to reading your new posts.)


    • Margherita says:

      Thanks for your comment, Ali! Much appreciated. I think it is important to share our knowledge about which products can be dangerous for your skin, which ones are safe but not appropriate for your skin type, and which ones are safe and just right for your skin!

      As we are bombed with products to buy, being able to pick just what is right for you is definitely a powerful tool to have 🙂

  5. GARRY NEWBY says:

    I have had problems with dry skin and it can be a nightmare as I have had flare ups and really itchy skin and even visited dermatologists to help solve the problem. Warm weather can be a nightmare as my skin used to dry out. I found the glycerine helped and so did coconut oil
    You’re tips have been noted just in case I have similar problems in the future. Thanks for the advice

    • Margherita says:

      Hi Garry! Yes, treating very dry skin can be very difficult. Glycerin helps a lot, along with ingredients with emollient properties, such as coconut, avocado, jojoba oils. Pick your moisturizer carefully. I recommend taking a look at the website I mentioned for INCI decoding ( to check the ingredients list. Take care, xxx

  6. Anita says:

    Finally a good informative post about moisturizers! I didn’t know about the website for INCI decoding – what a great tool 🙂 !! From now on, I will check the ingredients list there before buying anything!!
    Can you recommend any good moisturizer for combination skin? Thank you ☺
    Love from Germany ?

    • Margherita says:

      HI Anita! Yes, it’s a great tool 🙂
      I will soon write a post on good moisturizers for combination skin 🙂

  7. Dawn says:

    It’s so cool that you included an ingredient decoder in this post! I am very careful about what I put in and on my body so having access to this link is critical. I also have combination skin and never know what kind of moisturizer to purchase. Thanks for breaking down everything so now I know what to get. Great post!

    • Margherita says:

      The INCI decoder is indeed a great tool! More on good moisturizers for combination skin coming soon 😉 Take care!

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