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A moisturizer (or moisturiser) is a liquid that is used for softening the skin, especially for naturally dry skins. They increase the skin's water content by reducing evaporation.[1]

They can be quite a complicated chemical mixture. They may contain naturally occurring skin lipids and sterols, artificial or natural oils, emollients, lubricants,etc.

Moisturizers are not always needed or used. They are most useful for persons with dry skin.

Moisturizers are designed to either impart or restore hydration in the stratum corneum, which is an interactive, dynamic structure, and maintenance of hydration can impact its barrier function.[2]

How they act

Ways that a moisturizer affects the body include:

  1. Occlusives work by forming a thin film on the surface of the skin to prevent loss of moisture.
  2. Humectants attract water vapor from the air to moisturize the skin.
  3. Some add deficient materials. These aim to restore natural moisturizing factors on the skin.


  1. Publishing, Harvard Health (in en-US). Moisturizers: Do they work? - Harvard Health. Retrieved 2017-11-10. 
  2. Wan, Derrick C.; Wong, Victor W.; Longaker, Michael T.; Yang, George P.; Wei, Fu-Chan (2014-6). "Moisturizing Different Racial Skin Types". The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology 7 (6): 25–32. ISSN 1941-2789 . PMC PMC4086530 . PMID 25013536 .