Facial skin is unique. It is more sensitive and thinner compared to the rest of the body. The type of skin varies within different zones of face, and with age as we grow through adolescence. The density of glands which secrete sebum and sweat is more in the face. Due to this, absorption of products is more in facial skin. Damage due to environmental conditions like humidity, sun exposure and pollution occurs earlier on the face. Therefore it is best to choose products based on individual skin type, age, acne proneness, occupation and sun exposure.
Moisturizers help in skin defence, enriching the skin barrier and repairing minor skin damage. Even though facial skin is oily or combination type for most individual moisturizers are still helpful in this regard. But the choice has to be well made. Using same moisturizers for body and face may not be suitable for all.
The major facial skin types are oily, combination skin with oiliness in T zone of face and normal or dry skin elsewhere, normal skin, dry skin and sensitive skin. People with sensitive skin can have either oily or dry skin but they react more to products applied on face and environmental conditions.
Oily looking skin is felt as unappealing and creams and moisturizers add to the oiliness. But barrier damage is present even in oily skin and is now found to be a contributory factor for acne and redness. Also individuals under treatment for pimples may feel dryness and tightness in some areas of face making moisturizers necessary. Lightweight, oil free, water based, non comedogenic moisturizers are suitable for face. Some moisturizers contain certain anti inflammatory ingredients and fatty acids which balance the oiliness in the face, avoiding acne flares. Non greasy aqueous moisturizers with added sunscreens are available for added benefit. Thick creams and fragrant body moisturizers have to be avoided as they lead to occlusion, oiliness and acne flare.
Individuals with normal or dry skin can opt for more hydrating moisturizers especially in winters to counteract the barrier damage. Thicker lotions or gentle creams can be used. Thick creams are reserved for extremely dry skin with flaking for a short period of time and are not routinely preferred.
Moisturizers with less number of ingredients, paraben free and fragrance free moisturizers are preferred for sensitive skin types.
The best time to apply would be immediately after cleansing face and drying. If certain medicated creams for acne or pigmentation are used, use moisturizers followed by creams after a few minutes. If using serum based formulations moisturizers, they should be applied after serums for better absorption.
Moisturizers should be a part of a regular face care routine but a careful choice needs to be made to enhance its effects. It is best to consult a dermatologist for expert guidance.