Emollients / Moisturisers

Emollients / Moisturisers

Best used: AM Or PMCaution: Occlusion can cause acneBest for: Dry skin
Comments: Get your skin care fundamentals right 

before exfoliation 

Mode of action: HumectantScience Score:



What is the science behind emollients & moisturisers?

Emollients refer to a myriad of products that contain oils such as mineral oil (synthetic), natural oils, shea butter & other compounds. These include, in descending order of thickness, ointments, creams & lotions. Ointments contain the highest percentage of oil, whilst lotions contain mostly water with little oil.

How can emollients & moisturisers help my skin?

Protection & Barrier Function: Emollients protect the skin from the outside, especially important if the skin’s barrier function is compromised from skin disorders such as acne, rosacea, dermatitis & most commonly, skin care induced skin irritation. A compromised epidermis (outer layer of skin), allows bacteria & possible chemicals/irritants/ allergens to cause more harm to the skin. Frequent use of emollients preserves & protects the skin.


Hydration: Moisturisers, as the name suggests ‘hydrates’ dry skin. The science behind hydration is actually preventing water loss from the skin (TEWL or trans epidermal water loss).


Aids in ingredient delivery: Emollients act as the ‘mortar’ of a brick wall (bricks are the skin cells). Hydrating the ‘mortar’ or gaps present between the skin cells allows deeper penetration of skin care actives including retinol, ascorbic acid & niacinamide. Simple emollient use 30 minutes before application of your chosen ingredients enables these molecules to work harder without increasing their concentration.


Reducing inflammation: Emollients packed with ceramides or squalene can reduce inflammation of the skin, in turn normalizing red blotchy skin.

When is the best time to apply emollients?

For normal skin individuals the optimal time to apply moisturisers or emollients is on slightly damp skin, after a shower or bath. Emollients help ‘seal in’ water by preventing trans epidermal water loss (TEWL).

Davin’s Viewpoint on Emollients & Moisturisers

This is one of the most fundamental things you want to get right as together with sunscreen, emollients form the foundation of any skin care routine. This is especially important for patients who suffer from atopic dermatitis, eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, rosacea & even the other extreme- oily skin. As a general rule, for dry skin, choose two types of moisturizers, a heavier occlusive one during the dry low humidity months of winter or when you feel you need extra hydration, & a lighter cream or lotion for daily use. The less ‘ingredients’ the better if you have a dermatological condition, or if you are recovering from a procedure.


Emollients are also useful in protecting your skin from the environment, especially in cases where epidermal barrier function has been compromised, including common conditions such as acne. With hydration of your outer layer of skin (epidermis), it allows skin care actives such as retinol, retinoic acid, niacinamide, ascorbic & skin care acids penetrate deeper, hence making them more powerful, without increasing their concentratoin.

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