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  • Writer's pictureAnjana Rajbhandary

What You Need To Know About Emollients

Moisturizers can be roughly divided into three categories: humectants, occlusives, and emollients (via TZR). Basically, humectants absorb the water and keep it locked in the skin, and occlusives form a protective layer on the skin’s surface to create a stronger barrier.

According to WebMD, emollients are a type of medication used as a moisturizer to treat and prevent dry, itchy skin and treat minor skin irritations. They generally soften and moisturize the skin to reduce irritation and dryness. They are available in cream, ointments, lotions, gels, and sprays forms and help treat eczema if used regularly and correctly (via National Eczema Society).

Emollients are suitable for most skin types because they soften and smooth your skin by repairing the cracks on your skin barrier and preventing moisture loss. New York City dermatologist Marnie Nussbaum told Byrdie, “ Emollients work best when paired with other moisturizing agents that have occlusive or humectant properties, meaning they coat and cover the skin or attract water to it.” Ceramides and vitamin E are two popular emollients.

Applying emollients to our skin makes it feel more comfortable and less itchy. As we get older, our skin becomes drier, and Plastic Surgeon Peter Schmid told, “Lipid application is beneficial for aging skin where natural lipids have been depleted.” So, we have to moisturize our skin to prevent dryness, itchiness, and aging.

Emollients help repair the skin barrier and soften your skin

Most people have dry, itchy skin during the cooler months, so it helps to provide our skin with the TLC without the harsh chemicals. We love finding products that will help restore our skin’s natural barrier by soothing our dry and irritated skin, and it looks like we have so many to choose from.

The Zoe Report recommends the CeraVe Moisturizing Cream ($15.99) because it has ceramides, one of the most common emollients, that keep our skin looking smooth, dewy, and moisturized by restoring and maintaining the skin’s natural barrier. It also has a seal of approval from the National Eczema Association. Byrdie likes the Biossance Squalane + Omega Repair Cream ($58) because it has double the emollients with squalane and omega fatty acids to restore and plump the skin. It also has hyaluronic acid (a humectant) to support hydration.

Allure loves the EltaMD Barrier Renewal Complex Face Moisturizer ($52) because it has ceramides, vitamin E, and squalane to improve barrier function and prevent water loss. Self is also a fan of Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream ($33), which is a fragrance-free moisturizing cream with squalane. It is also suitable for those with sensitive skin.

Emollients have many skin benefits and can help with conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and contact dermatitis. Do you need more reasons to add them to your routine to get healthy and happy skin?

Originally published at on December 26, 2021.


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