Moisturizer should be the most foolproof part of your skincare routine; most people slather it on morning and night and don’t think too much beyond that. However, moisturizer is one of the most important steps in your routine. It deserves a little more consideration, especially as your skin matures and having effective, gentle moisturizer ingredients becomes even more critical. Don’t make the mistake of thinking all moisturizers are created equally: some contain ingredients that can actually harm your body’s largest organ. As you age, you might find that moisturizers you used in the past are suddenly irritating or declining in efficacy. Chances are that it’s time to upgrade to a moisturizer that delivers exactly what your skin needs, day and night. When choosing a moisturizer as a staple in your routine, make sure you read the ingredients list. If you see any of these moisturizer ingredients to avoid, pop it back on the shelf and keep looking.
1. Petroleum and Mineral OilIf you have dry skin, you might think that more is more. Heavier moisturizers often contain petroleum and petroleum-derived ingredients like mineral oil that are marketed to seal in moisture and result in plump and youthful skin. While it’s true that these ingredients can help trap moisture, they can do their job a little too efficiently, essentially using their occlusive powers to suffocate your skin’s delicate moisture barrier. This can cause it to become dependent on the heavy oils without allowing your skin to naturally replenish hydration levels. Dry skin is better moisturized with light ceramides, which lock in moisture while still allowing your skin to breathe.
2. ParabensParabens are used to extend the shelf life of moisturizing products. They’re preservatives, which might seem like no big deal and even a benefit if you want your moisturizer to last through every drop. Unfortunately, the same ingredients that keep your moisturizer shelf stable can have serious effects on your body. The Environmental Working Group warns against parabens, citing the effect they can have specifically on the female reproductive system. Opting for clean skincare is especially important for maturing and post-menopausal women; your moisturizer should help support your skincare goals without disrupting hormonal balance.
3. Alcohol and AstringentsIt’s possible to have adult acne issues well past your 40s. When you’re trying to battle blemishes and fine lines, a gel-based moisturizer sometimes seems like the best option to moisturize without causing breakouts. However, you should be wary of any moisturizer that contains alcohol or even natural astringents like witch hazel or tea tree oil. These can dry out your skin and do permanent damage to its moisture barrier, leaving your skin more exposed to free radicals.
4. Synthetic Dyes
Often derived from petroleum, synthetic dyes might make your moisturizer a pleasing shade of blush, but they won’t help your skin. Most women experience increased skin sensitivity with age, which means products that contain dyes can result in irritation, redness, flakiness, and inflammation. Look for clean, dye-free products that are packed with skin-safe ingredients without any of the unnecessary extras.