Hello again, tribe! I hope you all are having a wonderful week! If you’re looking to increase your knowledge of skincare and learn how to achieve the skin of your dreams, you’re in the right place! 

Last week, I released Episode #37 which was all about the basics of moisturizers — how they work, why they’re a foundational element to skincare success, and what ingredients you should be looking for when choosing a moisturizer. I’ve gotten a lot of questions and feedback from that episode, so I thought I’d make an additional episode about choosing the right moisturizer for your skin type!

Back in Episode #26 (which is all about determining your skin type), I give some recommendations, but my plan is to go a bit deeper in this episode so that you can be fully equipped with the knowledge you need to practice mindful skincare. Choosing a moisturizer may seem like an easy task, but it can quickly become daunting as you look at the neverending list of ingredients on the label. 

Skincare overwhelm leads to avoiding taking action, which leads to less-than-ideal skin. You deserve better! You deserve to have silky, smooth, glowing skin year-round! 

And this episode will help get you there! Today, we’ll discuss the different types of “vehicles” that deliver moisturizing ingredients to your skin and the ingredients you need to look for in a moisturizer depending on your specific skin type. Let’s get started, tribe! 


What Does a “Vehicle” Mean in Dermatology? 


Before we begin talking about specific ingredients, let’s unpack what a “vehicle” means in dermatology. 

Simply put, a vehicle is the medium of a product — it’s what the product is formulated in. Depending on what skin condition or skin type you have, your dermatologist will choose a specific vehicle based on your needs. For example, topical formulations are typically optimized to treat particular skin conditions. Perhaps the vehicle is designed to provide maximum moisture or allow an active ingredient to penetrate the skin. 

One easy way to remember what a vehicle does is to think of a vehicle in the mechanical sense. There are specific vehicles meant to go fast, others to drive across rough terrain, and some made to fly in the air. They each have a different effect, but their purpose is to transport an object (in this case, an ingredient) from one place to another. 


The Four Common Vehicles of Moisturizers 


Now, how do vehicles relate to moisturizers? Well, each moisturizer has a specific vehicle that works more effectively with certain skin types and conditions. Here are the four common vehicles we see in moisturizers:  

  • Lotions
  • Creams
  • Ointments
  • Gels

There are a few more vehicles I could list here, such as pastes, but these four are the most common ones you’ll see in moisturizers. Now, let’s briefly cover what each of these vehicles entails: 

Lotions are thicker than a typical water solution and more likely to contain oil, water, and/or alcohol.

Creams are even thicker than lotions and maintain their shape. Usually, there’s a 50:50 ratio of emulsion oil to water. They contain less water compared to lotions, which is one of the reasons I prefer creams. 

Ointments are semi-solid in shape, almost completely water-free, and usually 80% oil. They’re very greasy in texture and sticky.

Gels are typically alcohol-based, semi-solid emulsions. They often liquefy on contact with the skin and become more aqueous in form.

The front label of any moisturizer usually specifies the vehicle — be it lotion, cream, ointment, or gel. You can also identify the vehicle of the moisturizer by squeezing a tiny amount on the back of your hand. The vehicle you choose should depend on your skin condition and skin type.

The Most Important Moisturizing Vehicles and Ingredients for Your Skin Type


Now that we’ve discussed the different moisturizer vehicles, let’s talk about specific ingredients you need to look for based on your skin type. You can refer back to Episode #26 or read the blog for more information on other products you should use as well as my recommendations! 

Normal / Combination Skin Type

These two skin types can use almost any type of moisturizer; however, I do recommend using gels and lotions since they are typically more lightweight and less irritating to the skin. Normal skin types can pretty much tolerate everything, so a cream moisturizer would also be okay. For combination skin types, a gel-based moisturizer would work best to treat that oily T-zone area. 

Here are the label ingredients you should look for when choosing a moisturizer for a normal or combination skin type:

  • Hyaluronic acid (humectant) 
  • Glycerin (humectant) 
  • Ceramides (emollient) 
  • Dimethicone (occlusive) 

If you want to learn how humectant, emollient, occlusive ingredients help your skin stay moisturized, definitely check out Episode #37 or read the blog

Sensitive / Inflamed Skin Type

These skin types definitely need extra care, which means that you need to find a moisturizer that is soothing and hydrating and also contains anti-inflammatory ingredients. In Episode #26, I mentioned how it is important to avoid using gel-based moisturizers if you have sensitive skin. These gel moisturizers are alcohol-based, and that ingredient can cause some irritation with sensitive skin types. 

Instead, I would recommend using a cream-based moisturizer that contains all or some of the following ingredients: 

  • Hyaluronic acid (humectant)
  • Allantoin 
  • Colloidal oatmeal
  • Shea butter
  • Aloe Vera

When choosing your moisturizers, make sure to avoid anything that has fragrance in it — especially if you have a sensitive and/or inflamed skin type. If you want to learn how fragrances negatively affect your skin, check out Episode #28 or read the blog

Oily Skin Type

To counteract increased sebum production in oily skin types, I recommend using a gel-based moisturizer that contains fewer occlusives. Occlusives provide a seal of protection on your skin to decrease the frequency of transepidermal water loss, but if you have oily skin, you don’t need this protection.  

Now, you may be thinking, “Should I even have to use a moisturizer if I have oily skin?” Yes! Oily skin does not equal moisturized skin. If you have oily skin, you still need to be using a moisturizer — in fact, it will lessen the production of sebum and acne! Moisturizer is one of the pillars of the skin success framework I talked about in Episode #25, so please don’t skip this step!

Here are the water-based ingredients to look for when choosing a moisturizer for your oily skin type: 

  • Hyaluronic acid (humectant)
  • Glycerin (humectant) 
  • Ceramides (emollient)
  • Linoleic acid (emollient) — this one is actually great for all skin types! 

Dry Skin Type 

Last but not least, we have the dry skin type! If you have a dry skin type, you’ll want to use cream-based moisturizers as these formulations contain more occlusives and emollients to help trap water in your skin. You want that protective seal to help your skin out! 

Here are the ingredients to look for when choosing a moisturizer for your dry skin type:

  • Dimethicone (emollient)
  • Oleic acid
  • Shea butter (emollient) 
  • Fatty acids + Fatty Alcohols (occlusives)
  • Petrolatum (occlusive) 

Managing dry skin can be difficult, especially in the wintertime, but by consistently using a moisturizer that contains these ingredients, you’ll have silky, smooth skin in no time! Don’t give up!


Find the Best Moisturizer for Your Skin Type!


Tribe, next time you pick up a moisturizer at the store, you’ll read that long list of ingredients and see some you recognize! By understanding your skin type and the vehicles and ingredients that work best with it, you’ll be able to make empowered decisions regarding your skincare, which will lead to skincare success! 

If at any time, you feel like a moisturizer is causing any type of irritation, whether it’s itching, showing redness, or experiencing inflammation, discontinue its use and try a new one! Remember — everyone’s skin is different. What might work for your friend may not work for you — even if you have the same skin type! 

Finding your “perfect product” may take some trial and error, but it’s worth spending time on it! A lot of people give up after trying just one product. But since you’re reading this, I know you’re not one of those people! As always, if you have any questions about products, you can reach out to me on Instagram! I have so many wonderful products I’d love to recommend to you.

If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to let me know! You can tag me, @drnikoleta, on Instagram with a screenshot of the episode and your greatest takeaways. I’d also really appreciate it if you would subscribe and leave a five-star rating on Apple Podcasts — that helps us share the podcast with more people like you who are looking to achieve silky, smooth, glowing skin!

And if you want to learn more about mindful skincare, check out the podcast Facebook Community! This is an exclusive group of like-minded individuals who prioritize skincare, self-care, and healthcare — we’d love to have you join us!

Until next time, use these new tools in your healthy skin toolkit to start glowing like the confident superwoman you are! 


Disclaimer: The Millennial Doc® Podcast is advertising/marketing material. It is not medical advice. Please consult with your doctor on these topics. Copyright Dr. Nikoleta 2021.