The majority of moisturizers on the market today, whether they be facial moisturizing lotions, eye creams, night creams, "anti-aging" creams or serums have the same basic formula. The basic moisturizer is a mixture of water and oils, the oils being used to make the skin feel soft and smooth and prevent water from evaporating from the skin's surface.
Moisturizers contain water-soluble ingredients and oil-soluble ingredients that are mixed together with emulsifiers, ingredients that keep the water and oil components from seperating.
Most moisturizing lotions are water based and contain up to 80% water. Moisturizing ingredients called occlusives create a barrier on the surface of the skin to prevent water from evaporating from the skin into the environment. Petrolatum and dimethicone are common examples of occlusive ingredients found in moisturizers. Other ingredients, that draw water from the deeper layers of skin into the most superficial layers, are called humectants. Glycerin is a commonly used, effective, humectant found in many over-the-counter (OTC) skincare products. Other ingredients that are added to the formulation to make the skin feel soft and smooth are called emollients. They commonly include essential oils and cetyl esters.
Emulsifiers that help combine the water component and oil component often include glyceryl stearate and stearic acid. In addition to these ingredients, silicates and thickeners are often added to give the product its appropriate consistancy and help keep the product stable. Preservatives are added to prevent overgrowth of bacteria and fungus, and fragrance, is often added to make the product more appealing.
There are a wide variety of skincare moisturizers on the market, from inexpensive products found at local pharmacies and retail shops to boutique products, packaged beautifully, found at department stores. All with the same basic formula. Shop wisely, and remember, there is NO correlation between the cost of a moisturizer and its ability to moisturize the skin.