The Three Types of Moisturizers : Humectants, Occlusives, and Emollients

The Three Types of Moisturizers : Humectants, Occlusives, and Emollients

You don't need to use three moisturizers, so don't worry.

If you want to keep your skin healthy, vibrant, and plump, then your routine should include all three moisturizing ingredients. 

  1. Humectants 
  2. Emollients
  3. Occlusives

Your skin requires a combination of the three ingredients to ensure your skin stays moisturised and hydrated throughout the day. 

Did you know a combination of moisturization depends on your skin type, age, temperature, and season where you reside?

But first, let's understand what on earth these ingredients are and how they work. 


They draw water to themselves and reduce the rate at which it evaporates from your skin. Humectants move water from the dermis, the deepest layer of the skin, to the epidermis, the skin's outer layer, where dehydration occurs. Like glycerin or hyaluronic acid, chemical exfoliants that are water-soluble, like lactic acid, also function as humectants.


They smooth everything out and soften the skin. Emollients smooth and soften the skin by hydrating lipids and oils into the spaces between skin cells and flakes. They assist your skin in clinging onto those expensive humectants you use and stay on the skin's surface. Vitamin E, ceramides, rosehip oil, jojoba oil to name a few emollients.


They act as a moisture barrier and prevent water from evaporating. Because occlusives have giant molecules, they reject water rather than attract it. They operate similarly to emollients in that they will keep moisture in your skin where it belongs. Still, occlusives are heavier and better for drier skin types, whereas emollients are excellent for people with oily skin. Shea butter, lanolin, and beeswax are a few examples of occlusives. 

Sweet, I understand what they are and how they work. But do I need to use all three at the same time? 

You don't need to use all three. It depends on your skin type and which one works the best for you. 

Humectants, emollients, and occlusives are the order from thinnest to thickest.

According to your skin type, pick which one will suit you the best. And look for these ingredients in the products that you buy. 

PS - Just in case you are confused and need some help to build a skincare routine to target your skin concerns, we are here to help. Take Unsweetened Beauty's skin quiz, and we will deliver a hyper-personalized routine directly to your dms. 

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