The 5 Best Occlusive Moisturizers (Hydration-Locking) 2020
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The 5 Best Occlusive Moisturizers (Hydration-Locking)

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best occlusive moisturizer
In a hurry? Here are our top picks:
BEST FOR SENSITIVE AND ACNE-PRONE SKIN ZELEN Life Moisturizer

 

After applying an occlusive moisturizer to your skin, not a lot is either getting in or out.

An occlusive coats the skin and creates a barrier from the outside world. It seals in moisture by preventing water from escaping.

This keeps your skin soft despite the harsh weather and dehydration you’re experiencing. Your thirsty skin is made to look soft and dewy.

In this article, we will review the best occlusive moisturizers that you can use to keep your skin soft and shielded this winter.

For all the moisturizers that made our list, a detailed analysis will be provided. We will highlight their best features and who they are most suitable for. We will also share their pros and cons.

There are many things to think about when purchasing an occlusive moisturizer. This is why we will address the most frequently asked questions.

Let’s start with the considerations you should make before you buy:

Quick summary

bb2-table__imageZELEN Life Moisturizer
  • Organic formula packed with natural occlusive ingredients
  • Absorbs fast, locks moisture and forms a protective barrier to prevent water loss
  • Chemical-free, hypoallergenic, cruelty-free, vegan-friendly
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bb2-table__imagePRIORI Barrier Restore Complex fx140
  • Seals moisture and makes skin silky smooth
  • Calms aggravated skin and reduces redness
  • Strengthens skin barrier
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bb2-table__imageL'Occitane Ultra-Rich Comforting Cream
  • Super enriched formula, nourishes and protects
  • Contains 25% shea butter, superior occlusive
  • Non-greasy formula, loaded with vitamins
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bb2-table__imageBioderma Atoderm Cream
  • Nourishes skin barrier, maintains skin's water reserves
  • Unique formula, "Skin Protect Complex"
  • Provides instant moisture that lasts all day
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bb2-table__imageURIAGE Thermal Water Rich Water Cream
  • Rich thermal water cream, rebuilds corneocyte cement
  • Restores skin barrier and prevents dehydration
  • Hypoallergenic and dermatologist test
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Before you buy: 6 Things to consider when purchasing an occlusive moisturizer

It might sound wonderful to just go and pick up an occlusive moisturizer.

In which case, a tub of good old Vaseline will suffice. Yet, Vaseline is sticky and greasy and can feel a bit weird. So why not get a better occlusive moisturizer that doesn’t stick?

There are a few things you do need to know before you decide to buy one.

1. Skin type

Your skin type is very important as you buy an occlusive moisturizer. Even more so with occlusives as these are dense, thick creams that can feel greasy and heavy. This is especially the case with oily or combination skin.

The best occlusive moisturizer acts as an additional layer or barrier that prevents moisture from escaping from the skin. On its own, it adds no moisture or hydration. It just prevents you from losing any moisture.

It’s the best for dry to normal skin types. For oily skin, quick-absorbing occlusive moisturizers with a lightweight formula are the best way to go.

2. Frequency

Occlusive moisturizers typically are applied at night as they can take their time getting absorbed into the skin. You can’t just slap some on and head out the door.

This isn’t the typical moisturizer that you can wear for your nine to five, either. Simply because while it retains moisture, it can also prevent your skin from breathing if it is used with layers of makeup.

Many makeup products also cannot adhere to an occlusive moisturizer, especially if they are water-based.

3. Skin issues

These occlusive moisturizers tend to be great for people with eczema, atopic dermatitis, and other dermatoses where the skin is dry and experiencing inflammation. The oils slide into spaces between cells and give them a plump appearance.

Many occlusives also have antioxidants and are great for aging skin. For those who have acne or are struggling with clogged pores, you might want to be careful with this moisturizer as it can seem like it aggravates breakouts.

4. Weather

Occlusive moisturizers are typically used only in winter when the skin needs to retain moisture. However, many occlusives are now designed to be lightweight and rapid absorbing so that you can wear during any season.

So you may want to check out those if you’re looking for a year-round moisturizer.

5. Texture

The occlusive moisturizers come as lotions and thick creams. Depending on the ingredients, it can come in these two textures. Some may sit on the skin and have to be massaged into the epidermis.

Others may be applied and sink effortlessly without much work. Read each product to find out what texture you’re looking for. Water-based formulas are absorbed faster.

6. Finish

Occlusive moisturizers usually give you a light sheen thanks to all kinds of butter, oils, and paraffin. Occlusive ingredients can make you look greasy, so it’s important to note what finish each moisturizer has.

If you want a glowing, dewy look, these moisturizers are the way to go. Alternatively, some occlusive moisturizers have a matte finish.

The 5 best occlusive moisturizers in 2020

1. ZELEN Life Moisturizer

ZELEN Life moisturizer

Best features:

  • Protects the skin from environmental elements and acts as a protective barrier
  • Organic formula is chemical-free and hypoallergenic
  • Features numerous natural occlusive properties

The best occlusive moisturizer for:

All skin types, particularly those with sensitive or acne-prone skin.

Overview:

ZELEN Life’s Moisturizer features an organic formula that is loaded with natural occlusive ingredients, which leave your skin soft, smooth, and protected all day.

This lightweight, handmade cream coats the skin effortlessly to form an instant protective layer. It seals in moisture and prevents skin dehydration from water loss, even during winter.

Its key ingredients are jojoba, calendula, and clary sage, which are rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, and antioxidants. It also contains occlusive ingredients such as coconut oil, almond oil, and cocoa butter.

These phytonutrients bring a long list of benefits to the skin:

Jojoba is a natural anti-acne and anti-aging powerhouse. For acne sufferers, usually, an over-production in sebum (the skin’s natural oil) is responsible for their blemishes. Jojoba helps control breakouts by balancing the skin’s production of sebum.

It is also a powerful antibacterial and anti-inflammatory with demonstrated benefits in skin infections, skin aging, and wound healing.[2] It helps to control inflamed skin, improve wrinkles, and energize the skin to speeds up its healing process.

The high content of wax esters in jojoba oil makes it a good repair option for people with altered skin barriers, like seborrheic dermatitis, eczematous dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, and acne, according to various studies.[1]

Calendula promotes fast healing and regeneration of the skin. It is a natural skin soother and antiseptic which helps to reduce redness.

Clary sage is an active botanical that tightens the skin while giving it a youthful, radiant glow. It is also an anti-inflammatory that reduces skin irritations and an antibacterial that limits the growth of bacteria.

As with all ZELEN Life’s skincare products, this occlusive moisturizer is chemical-free, cruelty-free, and vegan-friendly.

The good:

  • Non-comedogenic, moisturizes and coats the skin without clogging pores
  • Suitable for all skin types, including sensitive and acne-prone skin
  • Has a smoothening, calming, and soothing effect on the skin, leaving it refreshed and revitalized
  • Contains vitamins, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids

Things to think about:

  • Has a matte finish
  • No SPF

Bottom line:

This is an excellent organic occlusive moisturizer that enhances the skin’s natural barrier without blocking the pores.

2. PRIORI Barrier Restore Complex fx140

Best features:

  • Calms irritated, red skin
  • Softer smoother complexion
  • Promotes skin barrier restoration

The best occlusive moisturizer for:

Those who are prone to inflamed skin.

Overview:

PRIORI’s Barrier Restore Complex fx140 is formulated with essential skin nutrients.

It is a silky-smooth emulsion to strengthen and repair the skin’s barrier function. This antioxidant and vitamin-infused formula lock in moisture while replenishing and repairing weakened skin.

This lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturizer is cruelty-free, as well as being free from fragrances, colorants, and parabens.

It has “Super-Hero” Skin Ingredients with Priori’s proprietary LCA Complex and Anti-Irritant Complex to give your skin the most advanced hydration and antioxidant protection. It features pH-correct Lactic Acid plus vitamins A, C, E & Pro-vitamin A for intense hydration and multi-layer skin renewal.

It prepares the skin for the very best results while increasing natural hyaluronic responses for in-depth hydration.

Red skin?

This moisturizer has advanced anti-irritant effects, where three natural ingredients combined in perfect balance. Extracts from Chamomile, Allantoin, and Bisabolol help soothe, heal, and protect the skin.

Sucrose Cocoate, a natural ingredient sourced from Coconut Oil, works to fight inflammation and calm irritated areas of the skin. Studies have shown that allantoin induces wound healing.[3] Coconut oil is useful as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis or dryness.[4]

Priori LCA fx140 Barrier Restore Complexe is an oil-free, water-based hydrator. This 24-hour face cream is an essential part of a daily skincare routine for all skin types and ages.

The good:

  • Improves skin appearance
  • Strengthens impaired skin
  • Dermatologist-tested
  • Packed with vitamins and natural extracts

Things to think about:

  • Claims to be oil-free but contain sucrose cocoate, which comes from coconut oil
  • Higher price point

Bottom line:

This is a premium occlusive moisturizer that restores the natural skin barrier. It is ideal for inflamed skin that is in need of some natural soothing agents.

3. L’Occitane Ultra-Rich Comforting Cream

Best features:

  • Deeply moisturizing
  • Creates soft and supple skin
  • Non-greasy texture

The best occlusive moisturizer for:

Blemish prone skin.

Overview:

L’Occitane’s Ultra-Rich Comforting Cream is a light, comforting cream specially formulated to help nourish and protect skin in need of deep hydration.

It is infused with 25% shea butter to suit normal to combination skin, even sensitive skin. It can be used twice a day but has to be massaged into the skin. It is rich in vitamin E, omega 6, and karitene to address the essential needs of normal to combination skin.

Moisture is locked into the skin, leaving it soft, supple, and comfortable all day. With its fine and non-greasy texture, this lightweight face moisturizer keeps your skin moisturized, supple, and soft.

Apart from the shea butter, it also contains sunflower seed oil, palm glycerides, corn starch, citronellol, and geraniol. Shea butter is rich in triterpenes that close skin wounds and heal the skin.[5]

Sunflower seed oil contains higher linoleic acid concentrations and has been shown to preserve the integrity of the topmost layers of the skin and improving hydration without inducing erythema.[6]

The good:

  • Rich in vitamin E, omega 6 and karitene
  • Fine, non-greasy texture
  • 25% Shea butter

Things to think about:

  • Many complained about the scent

Bottom line:

This is an excellent occlusive moisturizer that is great for blemish-prone skin that is in need of intense hydration. The 25% shea butter formula does just the job!

4. Bioderma Atoderm Cream

Best features:

  • Provides immediate and lasting moisture
  • Instantly softens, leaving skin supple
  • The Skin Protect Complex™ promotes a healthy skin barrier

The best occlusive moisturizer for:

Those who experience dry, patchy skin.

Overview:

Bioderma’s Atoderm Cream improves your skin barrier through moisturizing.

Its nourishing ingredients soften and hydrate the skin from the very first application.

With ingredients such as Vaseline and glycerin, the Atoderm Cream provides long-lasting moisture and softness without the need for multiple applications.

It also contains Vitamin b3, glycerin, and mineral oil as well. The Skin Protect Complex™ contains vitamin PP and a combination of two sugars that contributes to recreate a healthy-looking skin barrier and helps maintain the skin’s water reserves, thus making the skin comfortable again.

Vitamin PP helps improve the skin barrier, enhancing the skin’s suppleness, and restoring its comfort durably.

The combination of sugars optimizes the skin’s water reserves and facilitates the hydric flow. This provides hydration for 24 hours, and to support this action; it targets the synthesis of hyaluronic acid, a highly water-loving molecule in the skin.

The presence of glycerine contributes to locking in moisture inside the skin. The D.A.F™ patented natural complex increases the skin’s tolerance threshold.

Some of its other ingredients are Liquid Paraffin, Niacinamide, Glucose, Fructooligosaccharides, and Laminaria Extract. Studies have shown that liquid paraffin can enhance the penetration of glycerol and other ingredients into the skin.[7]

Laminaria prevents oxidative stress, thereby delaying skin collagen breakdown during aging.[8]

It is suitable for everyone and all-weather seasons and can double up as a body cream.

The good:

  • Unfragranced
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Non-sticky and fast-absorbing
  • Provides 24-hour, long lasting hydration with just one application

Things to think about:

  • Can leave your skin shiny

Bottom line:

This is a highly durable, multi-purpose occlusive moisturizer for dry, patchy skin. The fragrance-free and innovative formula is a big win in our book.

5. URIAGE Thermal Water Rich Water Cream

Best features:

  • Restores the skin’s barrier
  • Optimizes moisturization of epidermis
  • Enriched with Shea Butter for well-nourished skin

The best occlusive moisturizer for:

Sensitive skin types.

Overview:

URIAGE’s Thermal Water Rich Water Cream is a moisturizing and smoothing cream that deeply nourishes the thirstiest of skin. It delivers instant comfort for radiant skin all day long.

It is formulated with Uriage Thermal Water to rebuild the skin barrier that is broken due to weather or skin conditions. It restores this barrier effect and limits the skin’s dehydration. It also optimizes the moisturization of the epidermis, maintaining an optimum moisture level.

It does so by creating a film on the surface and gradually releases the moisturizing agents contained in the rich water cream. This occlusive moisturizer also acts on the rebuilding of the corneocyte cement to boost moisturization with lasting effects.

It keeps your skin perfectly nourished, energized, and soft thanks to a formula enriched with Shea Butter. This formula is designed for dry and sensitive skin. It also contains urea and glucose.

Studies have shown that at lower doses of ≤10%, urea-containing topical formulations act as a skin moisturizer. However, more is also not good. At higher percentages, they can also cause the skin to break down.[9]

The good:

  • Hypoallergenic and tested under dermatological control
  • Gradually releases moisture over time
  • Limits dehydration
  • Improves hydration and keeps it at its optimum

Things to think about:

  • Can cause some to breakout

Bottom line:

This is a wonderful occlusive moisturizer for those with sensitive skin who are in need of a boost of radiance and resilience.


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How we chose these products

Our choices were shaped by the primary occlusive molecule. To suit everyone, we chose products with a variety of primary occlusive ingredients. This included paraffin, mineral oil, shea butter, and cocoa butter, among others.

We also covered various skin types. During the winter, irrespective of skin type, everyone is looking for a powerful occlusive moisturizer. So we covered moisturizers for all skin types, including those with sensitive and combination skin.

We considered people who suffer from acne and have inflamed red skin, blemishes, and scars so that multiple issues would be targeted. Since occlusive moisturizers need to last all day long, we added formulas that last 24 hours and do not need multiple applications.

Many of our choices can be applied at bedtime and last all day long. Some of them can also be worn under makeup, and some can be applied all over the body.

Many of them are lightweight and rapidly absorbing, making them suitable for just about any season. And we covered a range of budgets too.

Frequently asked questions

frequently asked questions

What is an occlusive moisturizer?

An occlusive moisturizer physically prevents or retards water loss. They effectively form a film or barrier to keep you from losing moisture. They also decrease itching and burning and make the skin feel smooth and soft.

What are some examples of occlusive ingredients?

Occlusive ingredients can be sourced from plants like candelilla wax, beeswax, brazil wax palm kernel, heavy oils like macadamia, seeds, nut oil and castor oil, and cocoa butter.

Lecithin, a fat that is essential in the body’s cells and found in many foods like soybeans, chickpeas, and egg yolks, is another example. Others are like mineral oil, petrolatum, paraffin, which come from refining crude oil.

The oils fit between the dry skin cells and make them feel soft and smooth. Some are nature-like but still artificial, like allantoin and urea. The most famous occlusive moisturizer is petrolatum or Vaseline.

Lanolin, mineral oil, and silicones, such as dimethicone, are also examples of effective occlusive moisturizers.

When should I apply an occlusive moisturizer?

Apply an occlusive moisturizer immediately after bathing to trap additional water in the skin. Do it at any time of your day, depending on the texture and finish of your formula. Select a formula that lasts 24 hours.

How should I apply an occlusive moisturizer?

Because of their ingredients and texture, many occlusives need to be massaged into the skin and can take minutes to be fully absorbed. Though there are many lightweight formulas, these tend to require being worked into the skin.

Are occlusive moisturizers suitable for oily skin?

Yes, many lightweight formulas are created specifically for oily skin. Be careful, though, as they can clog pores and can worsen acne. Oily and combination skin types can benefit from humectant and occlusive moisturizer combinations.

Can I use another moisturizer with an occlusive?

Typically, occlusive moisturizers come with humectant or emollient ingredients. Several of them are now water-based as occlusives by themselves add no moisture to the skin. And so additional ingredients lend humectant properties to these formulas.

See if your moisturizer already has these ingredients. If not, then you can always use another moisturizer as a base and then use an occlusive moisturizer to seal it all in.

Can I use an occlusive moisturizer with makeup?

Occlusives tend to be dense, thick creams. Even lightweight formulas tend to form a barrier. You can use some that are designed to be worn under makeup. However, many don’t allow makeup to adhere, and they can also prevent the skin from breathing.

This is why many people choose to use it at night. Some companies tend to have an entire ranger built around an occlusive moisturizer because other products may just not work it.

Can I use an occlusive moisturizer after treatments?

If you’ve had laser or peels, it would be better to use the occlusive moisturizer lightly. Some are designed to reduce inflammation. If you’re using acids or retinol, you may want to skip that as this will trap any chemicals in your skin and exacerbate the inflammation.

Are occlusive moisturizers suitable for sensitive skin?

Yes. There are many formulas designed for sensitive skin. You may want to be careful as it can clog pores, and this can cause a breakout. This may not necessarily be acne but rather a clogged blackhead or whitehead, which might seem like a breakout or allergic reaction.

Alternatively, people with atopic dermatitis tend to have more bacteria on the skin, so it won’t take long for a clogged pore to turn into acne. Usually, these moisturizers tend to be very neutral substances.

What to do if I develop a reaction?

As always, do a patch test before using any product. See if you develop a breakout. Exfoliate once a week, and make sure you always apply an occlusive moisturizer on clean, damp skin. Discontinue the product if you develop a severe breakout.

How to clean up occlusive moisturizer?

Occlusives tend to stick to clothes and skin. Think Vaseline. The ones that do not get absorbed immediately tend to require soap or a cleanser for removal. While a scrub is not necessary, exfoliation needs to be part of the skincare routine.

The lightweight formula helps in this regard. Every company out there is trying to recreate the occlusive effects of petrolatum while being easier to clean up. Some of the newer formulas handle this issue well.

Conclusion

There are many wonderful occlusive moisturizers with various base ingredients. Keep in mind some of the pointers from our ‘before you buy’ section, and select an occlusive that is most suited to your needs.

Have you found your favorite occlusive moisturizer from our list?

Do share your choices with us. We’d love to know!

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References

  1. Meier L., Stange R., Michalsen A., Uehleke B. Clay jojoba oil facial mask for lesioned skin and mild acne—Results of a prospective, observational pilot study. Forsch Komplementmed. 2012;19:75–79. doi: 10.1159/000338076.
  2. Ranzato E., Martinotti S., Burlando B. Wound healing properties of jojoba liquid wax: An in vitro study. J. Ethnopharmacol. 2011;134:443–449. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2010.12.042.
  3. Araújo LU, Grabe-Guimarães A, Mosqueira VC, Carneiro CM, Silva-Barcellos NM. Profile of wound healing process induced by allantoin. Acta Cir Bras. 2010;25(5):460-466. doi:10.1590/s0102-86502010000500014
  4. Agero A.L., Verallo-Rowell V.M. A randomized double-blind controlled trial comparing extra virgin coconut oil with mineral oil as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis. Dermatitis. 2004;15:109–116. doi: 10.2310/6620.2004.04006.
  5. Agra L.C., Ferro J.N.S., Barbosa F.T., Barreto E. Triterpenes with healing activity: A systematic review. J. Dermatol. Treat. 2015;26:465–470. doi: 10.3109/09546634.2015.1021663.
  6. Danby S.G., AlEnezi T., Sultan A., Lavender T., Chittock J., Brown K., Cork M.J. Effect of olive and sunflower seed oil on the adult skin barrier: Implications for neonatal skin care. Pediatr. Dermatol. 2013;30:42–50. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1470.2012.01865.x.
  7. Chen K, Liang Y, Zhang Y. Study on reflection of human skin with liquid paraffin as the penetration enhancer by spectroscopy. J Biomed Opt. 2013;18(10):105001. doi:10.1117/1.JBO.18.10.105001
  8. Hu L, Tan J, Yang X, et al. Polysaccharide Extracted from Laminaria japonica Delays Intrinsic Skin Aging in Mice. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016;2016:5137386. doi:10.1155/2016/5137386
  9. Celleno L. Topical urea in skincare: A review. Dermatol Ther. 2018;31(6):e12690. doi:10.1111/dth.12690

About The Author

Dr. Pamela Q. Fernandes
Dr. Pamela Q. Fernandes

Pamela Q. Fernandes is a doctor and medical writer. Born and raised in Kuwait, she graduated from Angeles University College of Medicine, Philippines in 2007. Soon after that, she started her career as a medical writer and physician. Pamela is an advocate of preventive health, rural medicine, women’s health and tele-medicine having been active in these roles for the majority of her decade long career in medicine. As a seasoned medical writer, she has worked with many medical publishing houses and doctors, as well as pharmaceuticals, hospitals and practices. She specializes in training material for doctors and patient education material. As an academic writer, she is a qualified writer of articles for medical journals, case reports and medical presentations.

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