What Are Facial Lotions?
First up, a little lesson in the skin before delving into facial lotions.
There are three layers of the skin: the epidermis on the outside, the dermis in the middle, and the hypodermis underneath. Blood vessels deliver moisture to the dermis, which then travels up through the epidermis and evaporates. This is called transepidermal water loss (TEWL), so if there is too much TEWL going on, your skin will dry out.
Moisturizing or moisturizer is actually both a misconception and a misnomer. Water is the only thing that can hydrate skin. The job of these so-called moisturizing lotions is to trap that water in, deliver water to the epidermis, or do a little of both.
Because of this, never choose facial lotions or ointments with ingredients that are so thick and impenetrable that water cannot pass through them. That’s where emollients come in. They have a chemical structure with long chains of carbon atoms and work to block water from evaporating, but their technique is a little different. The epidermis is constructed like a brick wall, with dead skin cells playing the bricks and fatty lipids and proteins playing the mortar. When temperatures drop, those proteins break down. Emollients penetrate the epidermis and fill in the holes those proteins leave, keeping TEWL under control. Filling in those holes also makes your skin feel soft and smooth.
Humectants in facial lotions are the exact opposite. Hydroxyl groups in their chemical structure attract water, so as it soaks into the epidermis, the young, moist cells hanging out in the dermis travel towards the surface of the skin. Humectants also stimulate the production of ceramides, which are waxy molecules in our skin that also reduce TEWL.
How to Properly Use Face Lotions
Some moisturizers on their labels say you should only apply them to your body, face, hands, and even your feet. But skin is skin, right? Well, no because the skin on your hands is very different from the skin on your face. In short, the skin on your face isn’t the same as the skin on your body.
The skin on different parts of your body varies very much. Your face tends to have thinner skin, more oil glands, and more hair follicles than the skin on other parts of your body, like the thicker skin on your feet, for example. Even different areas on your face, like around your eyes, are thinner than others. This all just means your facial skin can be more sensitive, and therefore your face is more prone to breakouts like acne and other facial troubles.
Most companies would have you believe that body lotion should never be used on your face. But the key here is the ingredients that matter rather than the so-called “type” of lotion. In short, no matter what lotion you’re using, it’s fine so long as it doesn’t irritate your face. So again, pay attention to the ingredients. Many body lotions have strong fragrances and contain a wide variety of irritating ingredients like isopropyl palmitate, isopropyl myristate, cocoa butter, pigments, and dyes. These ingredients can cause problems for all types of skin, most especially the sensitive kind. A “bland” or gentle moisturizer typically doesn’t have added perfumes and minimizes irritants. If you deal with breakouts on a regular basis, body lotions might be too much and you should try something gentler instead such as a specialized facial lotion. The viscosity of your moisturizer also matters. There are creams, lotions, gels, and oils, all of which feel very different when you apply them.
When to Use Face Lotions
If you always go out on an almost daily basis for work or school, then you should be applying a face lotion at least once a day, though it would be better if you applied twice a day, once in the morning before going out and once before going to bed. The morning application acts as a sort of sunscreen especially if your work or schooling will take you outdoors in the course of the day.
Experts are right in preferring face lotions and moisturizers with an SPF rating between 30 and 50, and broad spectrum protection. The sun protection factor (SPF) in face lotions is what protects you from UVB rays. The number denotes how much longer it takes skin to sunburn than when unprotected: 30 times longer for SPF 30, 50 times longer for SPF 50, and so on. Don’t be fooled by the numbers, though. At their strongest, the difference in how much UVB radiation they block is around 1 percentage point, with SPF 30 blocking about 97 percent of UVB rays and SPF 50 blocking 98 percent. In fact, the FDA has proposed capping SPF at 50, arguing that any number higher is misleading to consumers who might believe there is such a thing as sunscreen that can block 100 percent of UVB rays, and this is a virtual impossibility. SPF 30 or 50 is realistic enough.
Broad spectrum sunscreen in face lotion blocks both UVB rays that cause sunburns and UVA rays that penetrate the skin deeper and are closely linked to skin cancer. The real key to sunscreen in face lotions, however, is coverage. The regular recommendation by dermatologists is a nickel-size dollop for a full face treatment along with regular reapplication.
How to Choose a Face Lotion for Dry Skin
Explore any underlying problems because the dry skin may be related to these underlying skin problems. You might want to see a dermatologist for a prescription cream if your skin dryness is accompanied by certain symptoms. Eczema and psoriasis can also lead to dry skin. If you have one of these conditions, you will also break out in scaly rashes and may frequently experience dead skin coming off in flakes.
Too much sun exposure can cause dry skin. If you live in a sunny area, you should talk to a dermatologist on how to best prevent your skin from sun damage. Too much sunlight can cause certain cancers like melanoma so it’s important you learn how to stay protected. If you’re unsure about what kind of face lotion works for your dry skin, do consult a doctor, pharmacist, dermatologist, or someone working at a health food or skin care store. Oftentimes, people are unsure what kind of face lotion they need if their skin is dry in some places and oily in others or if they have certain conditions, like eczema, and are unsure if products could potentially make symptoms worse. If you’re struggling with decision making, ask a professional for help.
To start, you should read the labels of the face lotions you plan to buy. Depending on your skin type, you should be on the lookout for different ingredients. People with dry skin should look for heavier moisturizers. A face lotion containing antioxidants, dimethicone, and grapeseed oil or petrolatum that prevents water loss from the skin, can be helpful.
If you tend to have oily skin around your dry face and neck, you can always use a water-based moisturizer on your face and an oil-based one on the dry areas. It should be labeled “oil-free” and list water as one of the first ingredients. Face lotions and moisturizers containing retinol can cause your skin to dry out, so choose a gentle preparation and use it very sparingly at first, every other night at the most.
How to Choose a Face Lotion for Oily Skin
Face lotions and moisturizers designed for oily skin will often include key words like water-based, noncomedogenic – or won’t clog the pores, non-acnegenic – or won’t cause acne, and oil-free. Oil-free products are more complicated than you think, however, as they may contain other ingredients that can clog your pores, like waxes, or irritate your skin, like alcohol.
Always examine the ingredients because people with oily skin should be on the lookout for the ingredients that can both help and harm their skin. Water-based face lotions should have a word that ends in “-icone” such as silicone, as one of the first few ingredients. Dimethicone is often used as a replacement for petrolatum, which is oil-derived. Dimethicone is both moisturizing and mattifying, which means that it can help control grease and shine.
Look for exfoliating ingredients. Oily skin can often be dull and thick, so choose products with ingredients that will help in overall cell turnover. These include lactic, glycolic, and salicylic acid. Avoid products that include paraffin, cocoa butter, and oils.
How to Choose a Face Lotion for Combination Skin
Combination skin is simply having oily skin in some areas of your face and dry skin in other areas. Typically, there’s a mix of oily and dry areas on different parts of your face, with the forehead, nose, and chin (the T-zone) being slight to very oily. Whether you have oily areas only around the nose and center of the forehead and dry areas over the cheeks, jaw area, and along the hairline, what you do to lessen those problems is the same.
A variety of factors can contribute to combination skin, but more often than not, it just comes down to what you inherited from your parents. However, the types of skincare products you’re using can absolutely make it worse or even cause the problem.
The important thing with combination skin is that there’s no one-size-fits solution. It depends on how dry your dry areas are naturally and how oily your oily areas are. It comes down to this: You’ll have to divide and conquer by caring for different parts of your face using different face lotions, one for dry and one for oily skin. This means you will need to apply a more emollient moisturizer over the dry areas, but if you apply that all over your face, the oily areas will become oilier. That’s why keeping things separate is important, and the same for the face lotion that absorbs oil, so keep them off the dry areas.
For the oily areas, you will need to use the lightest and most effective formulas possible. Potent, concentrated amounts of beneficial ingredients in face lotions with a gel, thin lotion, or liquid texture will work great over the entire face. You would then only need to use an emollient booster, serum, or moisturizer over the dry areas, including around the eyes.
How to Choose a Face Lotion for Acne-Prone Skin
Acne is usually caused by excess oil and clogged pores. Because healthy moisture and unhealthy dirt and oil are different things, and because not all face lotions will clog your pores, the important thing is to choose a product that’s meant for your skin type and incorporate it correctly into your existing skincare routine. Not all people who are prone to acne have very oily skin, but the two do tend to go hand in hand. If this sounds like you, you’ll want to choose a face lotion or moisturizer that’s oil-free and not too thick or creamy. Again look for face lotions that say “oil-free” on the label or look for ingredients that end in “-icone,” like silicone, a hint that the product is mostly water-based. Use a very light formula face lotion immediately after washing your face or bathing.
How to Choose a Face Lotion for Mature Skin
Look for the antioxidants because face lotions with antioxidants are the most beneficial for older skin. They help absorb free radicals that can cause damage to your skin. Antioxidants to look for include vitamin C, vitamin B3, and vitamin E. These vitamins are particularly effective in a face lotion because they are able to be absorbed into the skin more readily than others. Basically, a free radical is just oxygen that isn’t stable, and so retaining more moisture helps get rid of these toxins.
Check for face lotions with polypeptides or oligopeptides. These ingredients mimic peptides in your skin. Specifically, they can mimic collagen or elastin, the fibers that help regulate elasticity. They encourage your skin to produce more of these molecules that also helps reduce wrinkles on your skin.
Reminders About Facial Lotions
Determine your skin type. Your skin type will help you decide what kinds of facial lotions are best suited for you. Different types of skin respond better to different products.
A heavier, oil-based face lotion generally works best for dry skin. You may even want to consider petroleum based products if your skin is cracking; however, if your skin tends to have other issues in addition to dryness you might want to consider adding a couple different types of facial moisturizer to your skin care regimen.
If your skin is oily, making it prone to acne breakouts, try applying a light moisturizer to your face after washing. Areas that tend to be oily as well such as the neck and chest will not need the same treatments as the face.
If your skin is easily irritated and you’re prone to redness and rashes, ingredients like aloe and chamomile in face lotions can help. These soothing components smooth over cracked and dry skin. You should also avoid anything containing fragrances and dyes. But if you’re older, an oil-based moisturizer is best as oil-producing glands in the body become less active.