Active Ingredients: Emollient

Reyanna Ng Beauty Expert
Active Ingredients: Emollient

Why your skin & moisturiser need emollients!

Say bye bye to dry skin. We all know moisturisers work to help hydrate the skin and keep it moisturised, I mean is a skincare regime complete without a moisturiser? But the variety of ingredients in the formulas all work differently to treat dryness and can be extremely confusing. Today we’re focusing on one particular ingredient that stands out from the rest and is considered essential for ALL moisturisers, say hi to Emollients. They mainly work to smooth and soften the skin by reinforcing the skin barrier.

However, the term emollient can be quite confusing as it can refer to 2 different meanings when marketed on products:

  • Certain ingredients = Butters, oils, lipids, fatty acids, lanolin, petroleum and a whole lot more. They can be naturally derived or synthetically, as they work the same way.
  • Certain products (creams, lotions) = Either referring to products that contain the emollient ingredients, You may have also seen or heard the term “occlusive emollients”, this term refers to face oils as they form a protective barrier over the skin that seals moisture in.

From this, I think we can tell what emollients do for the skin but let’s delve deeper.



Rejuvenates the skin barrier

  • Emollients smooth and soften the skin by repairing and filling the cracks in the barrier that are responsible for moisture loss. Hence, by repairing the skin barrier, it prevents any moisture from seeping out of the skin. When this happens, the skin appears smoother and softer as it is sufficient moisture.
  • An easy representation of this idea can be seen by thinking of your skin cells as tiles and the lipids (fat) as cement. When the cement (lipids) are cracked, the tiles start to fall off and are more susceptible to damage, think of that happening on your skin - your skin becomes dry and flaky and maybe even patches of redness here and there. Therefore, having a protective barrier over the skin will prevent the lipids from drying up and cracking.

Suitable for chronic skin conditions

  • People with eczema, rosacea, dermatitis, rosacea and more tend to suffer from concerns that are mostly caused by a weakened skin barrier. With emollients strengthening and protecting the skin barrier, it can help to relieve the symptoms that come along with these conditions - flaky skin, redness, itchiness and more.

Improves overall skin health

  • Skin is healthiest when hydrated and moist. Environmental stressors, harsh chemicals in soaps or other skin products can damage the skin barrier and strip the skin of its natural moisture. This is where emollients come in and save the day.


The difference between emollients and humectants

When it comes to moisturising creams/lotions, we often come across the terms emollients and humectants that are both promoted to help treat dry and sensitive skin. The confusion is how do they differ from each other when they are marketed to achieve the same results? A short and simple explanation is that emollients spread across the skin and enhance the skin barrier, whereas humectants attract and extract water molecules from the air and deliver them to the skin.


What to note?

  • Although emollients are good for most skin types, those with oily skin may find emollient-rich products to be too heavy as they are oil-rich which can lead to clogged pores or breakouts.
  • In general, people should be cautious when using thicker emollients like oils as they are more susceptible to cause congested skin which can lead to acne and black/whiteheads.
  • Most emollient lotions and creams contain water, making them susceptible to bacterial contamination which is why you will see certain preservatives added into the formulation to keep the product stable.
  • Please avoid pairing emollients with ingredients that are known to cause irritation or allergic reactions as the emollients can seal these products in the skin.
  • Also, refrain from using emollients immediately after procedures that cause the pores to open like micro-needling as it can potentially clog pores and cause breakouts.


Products we recommend 

CeraVe Moisturising Cream

cerave moisturising cream

A hit item to quench dry skin due to its rich blend of emollients and humectants, plus ceramides that repairs the skin, lock in moisture and prevent irritation.


Cetaphil Moisturising Cream

cetaphil moisturising cream

For all your moisturising needs. This cream can be used on both the face and body and contains extra-strength emollients and humectants that binds water to the skin, deliver long-lasting hydration and prevent moisture loss.


Aveeno Daily Moisturising Lotion

aveeno daily moisturising lotion

This nourishing lotion is clinically proven to immediately improve the health of dry skin as it is formulated with colloidal oatmeal and rich emollients that leaves the skin feeling soft, smoother and  healthy looking.


The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane

the ordinary 100 squalane


Squalane is naturally found in the skin and has a very high emollience. It is an exceptional hydrator and can prevent ongoing loss of hydration that can weaken elasticity and suppleness.

The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Hemi-Squalane

the ordinary hemi squalane

Working identically  to The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane, the only difference is that Hemi-Squalane is half the molecular weight of the 100% Plant-Derived Squalane, which makes it lighter and drier to the touch.

Join the conversation

What other questions do you want us to answer? Share them in the comments below!
It's cool to be the first

The Conversation

    Be the first to comment.

New comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

Are your CeraVe products fake or counterfeit?
Read More
Clear Skin Without the Purge: Tips for Trying New Active Ingredients
Read More
A Simple Guide To Your Skincare Routine With Some By Mi
Read More
Scalp Care is Self-Care: Expert Tips for Maintaining Healthy Hair and Scalp
Read More
Active Ingredients: Vitamin E
Read More
Active Ingredients: Vitamin B
Read More
Spotlight: How To Prevent Acne With COSRX
Read More
Why You NEED These 6 Climate-Inspired Clean Products From Axis-Y
Read More
You Need This As Your Everyday SPF: AXIS-Y No Stress Physical Sunscreen
Read More
Is Some By Mi's AHA BHA PHA 30 Day Collection Really The Miracle It Claims To Be?
Read More

Join the conversation

What other questions do you want us to answer? Share them in the comments below!
Be the first