The Science of Beauty: Moisturiser Agents – Humectants, Emollients & Occlusives

Hello, everyone! Lina here. 🙂

In today’s post, I’m introducing a new feature on the blog to discuss terms, ingredients and concepts from the beauty world. This way you can evaluate the cosmetics you are putting on your skin and enjoy the experience of taking care of yourself the best way possible.

Today, I’m gonna go a little into the science behind a Moisturiser. Do you know what is a moisturiser? I mean, do you REALLY know? Do you know what Humectants, Emollients and Occlusives mean?

Those are actually the 3 types of components that formulate a moisturiser. The concentration of these components determine how you should use that particular product, which can be for morning or evening use, for skin types, such as dry, combination or oily skin, and some even are made for skin conditions, such as acne prone, rosacea, redness, etc.

A moisturiser normally comes as Lotion, Cream, Emulsion, Serum, Ampoule or Oil and are made to maintain the levels of oils and water in our skin. So, let me explain to you what all of these are and how you should choose them.



A humectant is a component that helps to add moisture to your skin. A moisturiser containing a humectant ingredient will draw water from the dermis below and help to rehydrate your skin’s surface. They also can draw water to the skin from a humid environment. And be aware of synthetic humectants, such as silicones, propylene glycol, polyethylene glycols (PEG’s) and urea. These will help to some extent but they don’t provide real nutrients to your skin and over time they can actually damage it.

Some of the natural humectants are:

  • Hyaluronic Acid (which sounds chemical but it isn’t. It’s a natural molecule present throughout our body and helps to hydrate joints, eyeballs and skin)
  • Glycerin
  • Honey
  • Aloe Vera Gel
  • Jojoba Oil


An emollient component fills the gaps between your skin cells, helping to soften and smooth the skin’s surface, making it more flexible. But this component doesn’t actually add moisture to your skin. A moisturiser containing an emollient ingredient will increase the ability of the skin to hold water, providing a layer of oil to prevent water loss and lubricate the skin to make it appear less dry.

Some of the natural emollients are:

  • Cocoa Butter
  • Shea Butter
  • Aloe Vera
  • Argan Oil
  • Rosehip Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Jojoba Oil


A moisturiser with an occlusive ingredient will form a film barrier on your skin’s surface, locking everything in and preventing water loss through your skin caused by external environment, but they also don’t increase moisture. These kinds of ingredients normally have a very waxy and greasy feel on the skin, which might not be the best option for who has oily and acne prone skin because they might block your pores. The most used occlusive ingredient in cosmetics is petroleum jelly aka vaseline, but this isn’t a natural ingredient so you’ll never find it in organic skincare.

Some of the natural occlusives are:

  • Lanolin Oil (which comes from the sheep wool grease)
  • Sweet Almond Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Castor Oil
  • Jojoba Oil


Some Considerations:

  • In case you’ve noticed, Jojoba Oil is considered all the three components and the reason is that Jojoba Oil is most like our natural sebum.
  • Those of you with dry skin need to find Moisturisers with good Humectant components because Emollient and Occlusive ones are working with existing moisture in your skin, but if you don’t have any they won’t help much.
  • Those of you with oily skin, please go slow and be careful with the Occlusive ingredients. The best option is choosing a moisturiser with Humectants and Emollients ingredients.
  • If you have oily skin or combination skin and using oils on your face as a moisturiser isn’t working for you, you can still cleanse your skin with them.
  • Many ingredients can be Emollients and Occlusives at the same time.
  • Many Humectants also have Emollient properties, but not all Emollients are Humectants.
  • Don’t moisturise your skin only from outside. What I mean by that is: put things into your stomach, not only into your skin. It’s a combination of food, exercises and cosmetics that will make your skin hydrated.
  • Drink, drink, drink plenty of water and teas!
  • Eat foods high in water content, too, like apple, orange, strawberry, star fruit, kiwi, green pepper, tomato, spinach, iceberg/crispy lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower and cucumber.
  • Pick foods with healthy monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, olive oil and avocado.
  • Make sure you’re also consuming enough Vitamin C and zinc to support collagen and elastin production.


Hope you’ve liked, beautiful! Any questions just comment below, I’m here to help you!


Edited on 1st October 2017:

The lovely folks at asked me to share with you their Best Face Moisturizer Reviews of 2017.

In current times when we never know if we can trust if posts are sponsored or not, I wanna be transparent with you and say that this one isn’t. I’m only sharing their guide with you because I personally really loved it, it’s well written, fun and quite informative.

Their requirements to select the best moisturizer for daytime and nighttime were very similar to my own – a.k.a rigorous but justifiable. I highly recommend you check it out if you’re still lost with so many options in the market; it can be maddening, I know.

Let me know if you agree with their choices and if you enjoyed reading the article.

Many kisses and see you soon! 🙂



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