It may seem obvious, but the only real “moisturizer” is water. The moisturizing lotions we know and love are mixtures that keep water in the skin longer. Should be simple, right? But not all moisturizers are created equal.
That’s why we made our own. The Curology moisturizer simply hydrates your skin—and contains nothing extra. Designed by in-house dermatologists to be non-comedogenic, fragrance-free, dye-free, paraben-free, and hypoallergenic, its cloud-like texture is breathable for your pores and lightly hydrates the skin to keep its moisture levels balanced.
But this isn’t a sales pitch—we’re here to give you the facts! So we’ve whipped up this guide with everything you need to know about choosing the right moisturizer for your face. We’ll show you what moisturizers out there are made of, what to avoid, and what may work best for you.
Many moisturizers hydrate temporarily, but the water simply evaporates. This leaves a film on the skin surface that basically sucks more moisture out! The best moisturizers have properties that both deliver moisture into the skin and help hold it in there. A moisturizer can be emollient, humectant, or occlusive. You don’t have to choose, though! The best moisturizers contain a combination of these different moisturizing properties—including the Curology moisturizer, which has all three!
A humectant, such as hyaluronic acid or glycerine, has a liquid texture that absorbs quickly into the skin, and draws moisture from the skin and the environment to increase the skin’s ability to hold water. Hyaluronic acid is especially good at delivering water into the skin and keeping it there! Humectants work best when combined with emollients (that’s why our moisturizer has both!), so if you’re using a serum with hyaluronic acid, try topping it off with a layer of an emollient cream.
An emollient delivers water directly into the skin using a carrier oil—such as grape seed oil, sesame oil, or silicone oil—and leaves the skin with a soft and supple feel.
An occlusive leaves oil on the skin’s surface to slow water loss—such as mineral oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, evening primrose oil, or silicone oil.
The Curology moisturizer contains hyaluronic acid and glycerine (humectants) and dimethicone silicone (emollient and occlusive), so it really locks the moisture into your skin and keeps you hydrated over time. Its gel-cream hybrid texture is buildable, breathable, and light as a cloud, so it blends into skin easily and even layers under makeup.
Acne-prone skin has less of the naturally occurring fats in the skin (lipids called ceramides). But that’s not a good thing! Without them, the skin doesn’t function as a protective barrier, which can mean more pimples. We know it can be a headache — acne treatments can make your skin dry, which harms the skin barrier. The Curology moisturizer is designed to work perfectly for that. It’s also good to reach for moisturizers that contain these ceramides, such as CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30.
Good news: if you’re using your Curology cream at night, moisturizer is optional! That’s because Curology cream already comes with a moisturizing base made with aloe vera leaf juice.
Of course, many of us need more hydration. That’s where the Curology moisturizer comes in.
Dry skin or dry air? Apply a thin layer of Curology moisturizer in the morning — it can help protect your skin throughout the day. Vaseline or EltaMD Intense Moisturizer can work well for this. (Fun fact! Vaseline was once thought to clog pores, but we know now that it won’t cause breakouts in most patients with acne, so it’s no problem.)
Whatever you use, just make sure it passes the CosDNA test—check out the ingredients to make sure the moisturizer won’t clog your pores!
Certain moisturizers can also improve skin tone and help mask imperfections, such as InstaNatural Niacinamide Face Serum, Paula’s Choice Resist Pure Radiance Skin Brightening Treatment, and EltaMD UV SPF 46 moisturizing sunscreen. Your custom Curology cream will improve your skin tone and imperfections, too!
Whatever you pick, make sure the moisturizer doesn’t block your pores! If your skin is dry and feels itchy, we recommend trying Theraplex Clear lotion. Work it in immediately after cleansing or showering, while your skin is still damp. (You can learn more in our guide to clogged pores.)
Want to get outside? You’ll want to reach for a moisturizer with sunscreen like CeraVE AM. Just note the SPF rating of whatever you use, because some products don’t shield your skin from UV rays!
Even though acne-prone skin can tolerate most oils, coconut oil is one exception. Unlike mineral oil and jojoba oil, coconut oil can block pores. It may be popular, but we discourage you from using it on your skin—adding it to your diet is fine, though.
Moisturizers should feel good and help you look great, so be mindful of what you use that may not be ideal for your situation. If a moisturizer is irritating your skin, causing breakouts, or not hydrating enough, set it aside and try something else—like the Curology moisturizer, which we designed to be safe for sensitive and acne-prone skin.
Here are a few more Curology providers recommend:
Again, a good way to find out if a product has any pore-clogging or skin-irritating ingredients is to run it through an analysis on CosDNA.com. Check out our step-by-step how-to guide.
Like with any product, don’t be afraid to try more than one until you find the elixir you love. If your skin seems to like a certain moisturizer—as long as it passes the CosDNA test—go with it!