Choosing a Moisturiser
With so many brands and types of moisturiser out there it is hard to pick just one. The first thing to decide upon is your budget and then look at the moisturisers within that price range.
High street brands such as Nivea or Simple will be cheaper and you can buy them off-the-shelf, while designer and prestige labels such as Chanel or Estee Lauder will cost more and can only be purchased over the counter. Middle of the range brands such as No 7 and Loreal offer a good alternative. Beauty consultants on counters in store will be happy to discuss their company's moisturisers with you and some have samples to give away so that you may try before you buy. You will also need to know which skin type you are as many brands sell different moisturisers for different skin types, this is because dry skins require more hydration than normal to oily skin types. Here is a general guide to the different types of moisturiser on the market so that you know which type best matches your skin's needs.
Day and night
The first thing to decide is whether you want a day or night moisturiser or both. Day creams will be lighter, sometimes fluid in texture, and include an SPF to protect your face from the sun. Night creams will be more hydrating and of a heavier substance. There is nothing to say you can't use your day cream at night and your night cream during the day, but they have been designed to best meet different requirements. If you are just going to choose one, perhaps decide on which your lifestyle best suits. If you are outside a lot then a day cream will certainly be more beneficial to protect you against the damaging effects of the sun. Day creams are also great make-up bases. If you have particularly dry skin or are not outside much, you may choose a night cream. The skin repairs itself at night and so anti-wrinkle products can work more effectively at night while you are sleeping.
Fluid and cream
The texture of your moisturiser will not only depend upon whether you are using a day or night cream but your skin type. Lighter, fluid moisturisers are better absorbed by oily skins, while drier skins require more hydration and the extra comfort a cream provides. Most moisturisers will come in three different versions: one for dry skins which will be a thick cream to give the skin maximum hydration; one for normal to combination skin types which will be a lighter cream to maintain the correct level of hydration; and one for oily skin types which will be a light fluid that gives less moisture and is absorbed better by oily skin types.
Deciding on which moisturiser
When deciding on which type of moisturiser to use, face the facts about your skin's most urgent needs. Whichever type of cream addresses the most needs will be the best choice for you. You may decide to mix and match, i.e. use a firming cream at night and an anti-ageing one during the day, which is actually a very common thing to do.
If your skin has a thirst for hydration it does not necessarily mean you have a dry skin type as any skin type can be dehydrated. If it feels tight and you can see very fine lines when you pinch your skin together, it is quite likely that your skin could do with a drink. Some people may choose to use a hydrating cream just at night (as many come without SPF's since extra hydrating ingredients outweigh the importance of the SPF) or at certain times of the year such as in colder winter weather. Hydrating ingredients such as Hyaluronic Acid which have very powerful moisturising properties are found in hydrating moisturisers.
People who work outside, live in warm countries or with younger skins may decide to go for an anti-oxidant moisturiser. These prevent premature ageing from the environment (the environment is the primary cause of ageing) by including not only a high SPF, at least 15, to protect against the sun but anti-oxidants such as green tea and cucumber extracts, vitamins C and E. From drinking coffee to pollution, we are prone to 'free radicals' that damage healthy skin cells. In the skin this leads to lines, wrinkles and loss of skin tone. Antioxidant ingredients can reduce the activity of these free radicals.
Skin brightening moisturisers help reduce the other common symptoms of premature ageing -- dullness, discolouration and uneven skin tone. So if radiant skin is your priority, opt for a skin brightening moisturiser.
First signs of ageing
Young skins (roughly 20 years plus)
Prevention is better than cure and women in their twenties do well to moisturise daily. At this age, the biggest cause of premature ageing is environmental -- pollution, air conditioning, caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine which all work to dehydrate and prematurely age the skin. Women of this age may therefore choose to use an anti-oxidant, hydrating or skin brightening moisturiser. If fine lines are your biggest concern, even in your twenties, then you can use an anti-ageing moisturiser (see below).
Young to middle aged skins (roughly 30 years plus)
With noticeable fine lines the best cream to go for is an anti-ageing or anti-wrinkle cream. Not only do these moisturisers target environmental ageing, by incorporating an SPF, but have special ingredients to maintain your skin's natural collagen levels before they start depreciating which happens naturally with biological and chronological ageing. Not only do they work to prevent fine lines appearing, but firm and reduce existing fine lines. While the primary goal of an anti-ageing cream is to prevent wrinkles from appearing, the primary goal of an anti-wrinkle cream is to smooth existing fine lines.
Middle aged to older skins (roughly 40 years plus)
Older skins need firming moisturisers to firm the skin and thus reduce the appearance of existing lines and prevent the formation of deeper lines. When we reach our forties our skin is working against the effects of not only environmental but chronological and hormonal ageing. Firming moisturisers often have collagen boosting ingredients to help encourage your skin to increase its production of collagen and elastin. They also hydrate the skin which in turn helps to prevent fine lines and leave it feeling comforted.
Why use a separate moisturiser for your eyes? The skin around the eye area is 4x thinner than else where on the face and therefore much more delicate. It has different needs to the rest of your face and is usually where most women see the first visible signs of ageing. You may have dark circles, crows feet, sagging skin or none of these, and different creams target different needs whether skin brightening, age prevention or firming. Your eye moisturiser is unlikely to be serving the same needs as your face cream; for example, you may want an eye cream to firm fine lines, and a face moisturiser to target hydration. See our article on choosing an eye cream.
Your skin's needs can change with the seasons and with time so remember that seasonally, or every few years, you may want to change to a different type of moisturiser. Consult a beauty adviser at your local department store or pharmacy as they'll only be too happy to give your skin a health check.
For advice on cleansing and toning read our 3 Step System.