No matter your skin type or age, one thing is certain: You need a moisturizer. But choosing the right moisturizer is easier said than done. Your skin may be sensitive, oily, dry, or a combination of these. There are specific ingredients to look out for, depending on your skin type.
But there is more to consider: Since the skin on your face has different needs from the skin on your hands, you need to consider different moisturizers for each. The same goes for your vagina (yes, many women do need to moisturize down there).
Know your skin type
Even if you think you know your skin type, check in with yourself every few years, since skin’s needs change as you age. Discovering your skin type is easy. Many beauty blogs recommend this method: Wash your face thoroughly and wait a few hours for your skin to return to its natural state. How does it feel?
If your skin feels smooth with no oil or flakes, congratulations! You have normal skin — but you’re not off the hook and you still need a moisturizer. If your skin is shiny and oily, you’ve got oily skin. If it feels tight, dry, and flaky, you have dry skin. And if you have a combination of slickness in some areas with dry patches in others, you have combination skin.
No matter your skin type (even you oily skin types out there), there is a moisturizer for you.
Choose a moisturizer
For your face
Face creams seem to exist in an endless array, but there are a few general rules when choosing one. First, consider a light cream moisturizer with SPF for daytime use. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends SPF 30 or higher to prevent early skin aging and skin cancer.
Next, look for skin serums and creams that contain hyaluronic acid, which keeps skin looking young and supple. You’ll find it in both high-end and drugstore products. Vitamin E is another powerhouse ingredient that has antioxidant properties and plays a role in the metabolism of cells.
For your hands
Constant hand-washing, sanitizing, and exposure to the elements can take a toll on hands, which is why it’s so important to give them extra attention. Dry skin on hands is incredibly common, especially during the harsh winter months. A rich hand cream for both day and night will help.
Look for hand creams with ceramides, which are lipids that help form the skin’s barrier and aid in retaining moisture. Glycerin is another heavy hitter for hand creams. One study showed that people who used a cream with 20 percent glycerin for 10 days had a dramatic reduction in dryness.
And if you’ve neglected to use SPF on your hands, now is the time to start. Hands are frequently exposed to the sun, so protect them with a layer of sunscreen underneath your hand cream before you head out for the day.
For your body
When it comes to finding the best moisturizer for your body, there are a few ways you can narrow down the dizzying number of choices. First, choose one that is free of artificial fragrances and dyes, since they can irritate sensitive skin.
A body moisturizer with antioxidants like green tea or pomegranate can be exceptionally soothing for dry skin. Be sure to check the ingredients list to make sure they’re near the top. And, once again, hyaluronic acid is an ideal ingredient for maintaining natural moisture.
There are a few natural ingredients in body moisturizers that have generated some buzz recently. Coconut oil, for example, is a heavy-duty (and delicious-smelling) natural moisturizer that appears to have a million benefits, including dry skin relief. It’s generally safe to slather on your body.
For your vagina
Vaginal dryness, including vulvar itching and dryness, is a reality for menopausal women, but it’s also easy to relieve with the right vaginal moisturizer.
But first, it’s important to remove irritants from your skin care regimen. That means washing your vulva (the skin on the outer part of your vagina) with clean water only, since soap can trigger irritation. Avoid lotions, detergents, body wash, and bubble baths with fragrances and dyes.
Once you have a clean slate, consider a vaginal moisturizer. Look for a water-based moisturizer that contains hyaluronic acid and vitamin E.
It’s also worth noting that vaginal moisturizers and vaginal lubricants are not the same thing. A lubricant is intended for use with sex, but a moisturizer is intended to relieve dryness and itching, and should be used daily or as often as needed.
As you age, your skin can change a lot. Use this guide to help analyze your skin type and choose the best moisturizer. Have more questions about skin care? Read 7 Myths About Menopause and Skin.