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What moisturizing ingredients are good for dry skin

Image: Ian Dooley, Unsplash

Your skin needs water

Water. It is very important. You body is 60%water. Approximately. Your body uses water to dilute and transport vital nutrients and other materials it needs for its survival. Your body cannot survive without water.

Your skin, the top layer of your skin has more than 10% water. That is if you have normal skin. If you have less it is not a good thing. It means that you have dry skin. Dry skin needs a lot of love and care. Moisturizing is vital for dry skin.

Before looking at effective moisturizers for dry skin, you need to understand why it is important to moisturize dry skin. To understand that, let us look at the connection between water and dry skin.

Why dry skin has less water content?

The skin that you see is called the stratum corenum (SC). That is the top layer of the skin. The skin has many layers. The SC is made up of different materials including fats and natural moisturizing factors (NMF). The fats and the NMF help the skin hold on to its water content.

The NMF love water. They attract and hold water. They also love mixing with water. They could get washed away with water. The fats prevent that from happening. They form a protective seal that keeps the NMF in their place and also allow water to move around. If that protective seal or barrier is damaged somehow, then it cannot do its job of keeping water inside the skin. If there is an insufficient amount of water in the skin, it leads to dry skin.

The purpose of moisturizing dry skin

You have dry skin not because there is insufficient amount of water in the skin in general. It is because the SC, the top layer of your skin, has insufficient amount of water (less than 10%). It cannot hold its water content.

A moisturizer helps the SC hold on to water. A moisturizer that contains fats or NMF or both will help the SC do that. The fats and NMF in a moisture are supposed to behave in the same way as the fats and NMF naturally found in your skin. Applying a moisturizer that contains fats and/or NMF on dry skin helps dry skin increase its ability to hold water.

What is an effective moisturizer for dry skin?
It depends on your preference. You could use a moisturizer that is rich in NMFs or one that has fats alone. Or, you could also use a moisturizer that contains both.

What natural moisturizing ingredients are good for dry skin?

Look for oils and humectants.


Oils/fats can be categorized into emollients and occlusives. Generally, emollients are lighter feeling oils that soften, soothe the skin. The thicker, richer, heavier feeling oils, and in particular the butters, such as cocoa butter, are occlusives. They, much like the fats in your skin, form a protective seal or barrier over the skin that prevents the loss of water.

I could list different oils that may be suitable for you. But, in reality, it depends on what you like on your skin. Some oils are light and non-greasy but they are dry and do not feel very moisturizing. Some oils spread across your skin very easily and they soften your skin. But they feel greasy and heavy. Some oils feel as if they are smothering your skin. Some of you may dislike putting only oils on your skin.


These ingredients attract water, mix in water, have a high water content. NMFs are humectants. Humectants are supposed to increase the water content of your skin. Some examples of humectants are: aloe vera, urea, lactic acid, glycerine, honey.

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