In Search of the Elusive Perfect Moisturizer

The problem with having sensitive skin on your face is that a lot of creams and treatments for sensitive skin are very emollient and can clog your pores.  It’s assumed that sensitive skin automatically equals dry skin.  I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not really sure whether I would be classified as having sensitive dry skin, or having combination skin that is sensitive.  I’ve always imagined typical ‘dry’ skin as skin that is parched, flaky, tight, and never, ever gets breakouts or clogged pores because it’s just too dry.  However, while this often describes the overall state of my facial skin (especially in the harsh fall/winter weather here in the Midwest, where you’re either subjected to cold winds outside or really drying heat pumped in when you’re inside), I do still get clogged pores or even acne from time to time.

Last week, I started slathering Aveeno Eczema Care cream all over my face at night to try and soothe my redness and irritation.  It’s got oatmeal and ceramides, which are good stuff, but it also has petrolatum way up there on the ingredient list, and it really is not suitable as a face cream.  I kind of knew this as I was putting it on, but I figured I’d rather have acne than rashes any day.

I ended up getting a couple hard bumps of cystic acne that were painful, deep under the skin, and in one case, very, very obvious.  I got one on my forehead that was raised and about the size of a quarter.  It was so obnoxious that my own dear brother (who has also been afflicted with allergies, asthma, and eczema during his life – although he has asthma a lot worse than me, and I have MUCH more struggle with eczema than him) asked me, “What happened to your forehead?  Did you get stung by a bee or something?”

So.  It’s extremely difficult to find a moisturizer that is not only emollient for my dry patches, but soothing and non-irritating for my rashes, and also will not clog my pores.  Add to the list that I will not use something with parabens, fragrance, butylene glycol, propylene glycol, shea butter, methylchloroizolithazone (I think I butchered the spelling of that, but it’s close), DMDM hydantoin, and a couple other ingredients that I can’t remember right now but I would know them if I saw them on an ingredients list.  Of course, I want to avoid petrolatum/petroleum as well, so that my pores don’t get clogged, and I would also like to stay away from coconut oil ingredients, as I started getting a rash when I used coconut oil on my legs for a while.

You wouldn’t believe the number of moisturizers out there that LOOK promising, but contain one or more of the above ingredients.  At night, I’ve been using natural oils as moisturizers, like olive oil, grapeseed oil, or sweet almond oil.  However, the problem with these is that I think they end up rubbing off into my pillow as I thrash and turn in the night (very restless sleeper I am) and I wake up with a dry face.  I also feel that these oils just kind of sit on the surface of the skin and don’t really sink in.  I need something that will get absorbed and actually improve the feeling and look of my skin when I wake up.  Any suggestions???

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9 thoughts on “In Search of the Elusive Perfect Moisturizer

  1. Celiac and Allergy Adventures says:

    I am/was an esthetician in a past life and there were two product lines that I LOVED. My skin is super sensitive (but it’s also super dry, I never get breakouts). Most of my clients loved the products too, regardless of their skin type. I don’t know about all the ingredients but check out Bioelements and GlyMed.

    • Thanks Amanda for the suggestion! I was looking at the Glymed stuff on their website and I already found a lot of good products that don’t have any of those bad ingredients I want to avoid. next i’m going to check out Bioelements. Any suggestions with the specific products of those lines that worked for you personally, since we both have sensitive skin?

      • Celiac and Allergy Adventures says:

        For Glymed, it was their Gentle Cleanser, Anti-aging exfoliant masqueit doesn’t look like they have the moisturizer I used to purchase though. I’ll email them and find out. For Bioelements, I use crucial moisture, but they have something on their website that helps you pick a “skin type” and then recommends products from there. Absolute Moisture might be better for you if you have combination type skin…

  2. Tiff says:

    Have you tried Cetaphil? I use the Moisturzing cream (that comes in a tub) on my body and my face. I really like it.

    • Hi Tiff! Thanks for the suggestion. I just checked out the ingredients online and it doesn’t have any of those things I want to avoid. However being that one of the first ingredients is petrolatum, I am worried about it clogging my pores if I use it on my face, as I’ve experienced that with an Aveeno moisturizer that had petrolatum… it was just way too heavy. What kind of skin do you have… is it pretty dry? Maybe I will try the Cetaphil on my face if I get a really dry patch 🙂

  3. Funny that I just came across your blog today because starting tomorrow I will be formulating a facial lotion…a series of facial lotions, actually. I plan to formulate them according to complexion type, as well as considering other dermatological conditions: acne, rosacea, dry/aging skin, and eczema/rashes. I am trying to perfect my base so that it absorbs well, moisturizes well, yet does not clog pores. Once I perfect the base, I will add the appropriate Chinese herbs to make each of the various formulas based on skin type. I myself suffer from rosacea and exceedingly dry skin. Plus, I live in northern Colorado where the winter air just sucks the small amount of moisture in my skin right out. But I also easily get zits if I over moisturize. It’s all about balance!

    I have a question for you, though: why do you avoid shea butter? Does it cause a rash or do you have an allergy to tree nuts?

    • Hello and first of all, thank you for mentioning my blog on your website! I am really enjoying reading through your blog posts and I did take a brief look at your online store (some of the products definitely look like something I want to try) so I’ll be really interested in any facial lotions that you develop.

      It seems that I have a pretty similar skin type to you – mostly dry (and sensitive!), but I am also prone to get zits if I use something really thick and moisturizing.

      The reason that I avoid shea butter is because I reacted negatively to it in the past. A few months ago, I bought a tub of pure unrefined shea butter and started using it on my body and face. After a few days, my skin started getting very dry and irritated. I then researched online and found that those with latex allergies (which I DO get VERY itchy when touching latex) sometimes have a reaction with shea butter.

      To my knowledge, I don’t have a tree nut allergy.

  4. Jen says:

    Hi there! I’ve also suffered from eczema for the past year or so…although I don’t get it on my body, it flares up terribly on my face and head. When all other creams fail me, I always go back to avene cream for intolerant skin. Paired with the micellar lotion/cleanser (it’s so gentle that you technically don’t have to rinse it off but I do anyway), it really helps calm everything down. I would suggest trying the lotion and cleanser together for a few days and seeing if that helps calm your skin down.

    • Hi Jen! Thank you for your recommendation! Sorry to hear that you get flares as well. I actually have the Avene Tolerance Extreme cream (or whatever it is called) and found it to be very nice for my face when it was flaring up a couple months back… it was one of the few things that felt so mild and didn’t sting. Another visitor to the blog had recommended it, so it’s nice to know that it works for so many people! And actually, my eczema was the result of my skin being addicted to topical steroids (as you can see from my more recent blog posts over the past 6 months or so when I first discovered the true source of my problem) so I’m happy to note that my face is pretty much normal again and I can use lots of things on it besides just Avene. I hope that you experience some healing as well! Thank you again ~

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