Natural Skin Care Review: Moisturizers

Here is Part III in my natural skin care review series.  If you missed cleansers, exfoliants, and the intro make sure to check them out! 

Picking a good moisturizer can be tricky, but is essential especially in dry winter months.  Several bad things can happen when we have dry skin: flaking, irritation, sensitivity, redness, and even increased oiliness (the skin can try to overcompensate the dryness with the over production of sebum which can leave us with an oil slick, and potentially more break-outs).

The most superficial layer of your skin (the stratum corneum) is made up of around 20 layers of dead skin cells and has a healthy water content of around 30%.  This water content is important for maintaining an effective barrier against infection as your skin has a moisture barrier made of natural lipids that keep moisture in and irritants out. One of the main causes of skin dehydration is the loss of water content in the stratum corneum which can be caused by overexposure to water, harsh soaps or irritants, and environmental factors. 

When this barrier is damaged, it creates tiny, invisible cracks in the skin that allow moisture to escape (causing dry, flaky skin) and irritants to enter more easily (making even sensitive skin products cause a stinging, irritating sensation). To repair dry, flaky skin, look for the following emollient barrier-repair ingredients when choosing a moisturizer.
  •       Carrot Oil
  •       Honey (manuka preferably)
  •       Rosehip Oil
  •       Cranberry Oil
  •       Hyaluronic acid
  •       Evening Primrose Oil
  •       Ceramides
  •       Linoleic/Linolenic Acids
  •       Squalane
  •       Linoleic Acid
  •       Phytosterols
  •       Shea Butter
  •       Sunflower Oil
  •       Safflower Oil
  •       Avocado Oil
  •       Jojoba Oil
  •       Sweet Almond Oil
  •       Canola Oil
  •       Sesame Seed Oil
These ingredients will help correct both the lack of oil and lack of hydration deep within your skin.  Also, it’s important to remember that using water that is too hot when cleansing can severely dry out the skin on our face as well as not moisturizing soon after cleansing.  

Once you start to restore hydration you also start to repair the skin’s lipid moisture barrier to make your skin moist, supple, and smooth. Ultimately hydrated skin is healthy skin!

Verdict: A little goes a long way with this light weight but highly moisturizing lotion.  Part of Holistic Vanity’s Damage Care line this floral smelling lotion goes on smoothly and is absorbed almost instantly leaving skin glowing and hydrated.  After a few weeks of use I definitely noticed some of the hyper-pigmentation left over from some picked pimples (ughh) started to fade on my jawline.   This will most likely be my go-to summer moisturizer as I personally need a fast absorbing, heavy hitting lotion that will keep my skin happy and plump but won’t leave my skin oily.

In this formulation I especially like the use of:
  • Norwegian Kelp: this spectacular seaweed has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-aging properties.   There is also research being done to see it’s effects on wound healing and tissue repair
    • Ascophyllum may also play a role in decreasing hyperpigmentation by reducing a key mediator of melanogenesis and inhibiting tyrosinase - an enzyme that triggers melanin production and melanin synthesis
  • Hyaluronic Acid – HA is a substance that is found naturally in our skin, joints, and throughout our body.  It plays a major role in keeping tissues hydrated, lubricating joints, and regulates several aspects of tissue repair.  
    • HA acts to help skin retain moisture and look plumper as it has the ability to retain up to one thousand times its own weight in water
  • Bearberry – A shrub that is known for its ability to alleviate hyper-pigmentation
    • Contains arbutin which is a phenolic glycoside that becomes hydrolyzed to hydroquinone (which is a popular ingredient in skin lightening products that has a bad rep for good reason).  
    • This is a natural alternative that don’t boast the same harmful effects.

Ingredients: Aloe barbadensis (aloe vera) leaf juice*, Sodium Hyaluronate, 
Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, 
Medicago Sativa (Alfalfa) Extract*, 
Triticum Aestivum Extract
, Cetearyl Wheat Straw Glycosides
, Cetearyl Alcohol
, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Coconut) Oil, 
Glycerin (Vegetable based), 
Ascophyllum Nodosum Extract, 
Algae Extract, 
Populus Tremuloides (Aspen) Bark Extract
, Cetyl Esters,
 Halidrys Siliquosa Extract, 
Oryza Sativa (Rice) Seed Extract*
, Arctostaphylos Uva Ursi (Bearberry) Leaf Extract*
, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Nut Butter*
, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizinate
, Sclerotium Gum
, Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract
, Helichrysum Italicum (Helichrysum) Flower Oil*
, Pelargonium Graveolens (Geranium) Leaf/Flower Oil*
, Anthemis *Certified Organic

                   Living Nature Nourishing Day Cream ($39)

Verdict:  This earthy smelling cream is very moisturizing without leaving any greasy residue.  This formula is quick drying and leaves slight matte finish.  Skin is left feeling hydrated and any dry patches are left in the dust.  

In this formulation I especially like the use of:

  • Manuka honey: enhances your skins natural renewal and healing process
  • Wheat germ: rich in vitamins A, D, and E, this oil is used for its great antioxidant effects on free radical damage.  It also acts as a natural preservative and support’s the skin’s natural process of regeneration  
  • Shea butter: derived from the Shea tree fruit this moisturizing butter contains stearic acid, linoleic acid, and antioxidants.  It has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties and is a useful emollient in treatment of eczema and psoriasis
Ingredients: Aqua (water), Cetearyl olivate, Sorbitan olivate, Squalane (vegetable squalane), Caprylic/Capric triglyceride, Persea gratissima (avocado) oil, Butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter**, Glucose, Mel (manuka honey), Parfum (fragrance)*, Phormium tenax leaf juice (NZ flax gel), Triticum vulgare (wheat) germ oil, Sclerotium gum, Olea europaea (olive) leaf extract, Totarol, Glucose oxidase, Lactoperoxidase, Oenothera biennis (evening primrose) oil**, Tocopherol (vitamin E), Leptospermum scoparium (manuka) oil. *From natural essential oils: Citral, Citronellol, Eugenol, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool. **Certified organic.

                      Living Nature Nourishing Night Cream ($70)

Verdict: Much like its daytime counterpart, the Living Nature night cream moisturizes without leaving your face looking or feeling greasy.  You also don't need to use very much which means a small bottle goes a long way!

In this formulation I especially like the use of:

  • Manuka honey: again, this magic golden elixir of youth enhances your skins natural renewal and healing process, supports the moisture barrier, and reduces inflammation
  • Totarol: this super antioxidant gives the cream an extra boost of antibacterial protection and fights skin-ageing free radicals
Ingredients: Aqua (water), Cetearyl olivate, Sorbitan olivate, Caprylic/Capric triglyceride, Mel (manuka honey), Persea gratissima (avocado) oil, Macadamia ternifolia (macadamia) seed oil, Prunus amygdalus dulcis (almond) oil, Glycerin (vegetable glycerin), Simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil**, Glucose, Parfum (fragrance)*, Butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter**, Daucus carota (carrot) extract, Rosa canina (rosehip) fruit oil**, Olea europaea (olive) leaf extract, Triticum vulgare (wheat) germ oil, Xanthan gum, Oenothera biennis (evening primrose) oil, Glucose oxidase, Lactoperoxidase, Tocopherol (vitamin E), Totarol, Leptospermum scoparium (manuka) oil. *From natural essential oils: Citral, Citronellol, Eugenol, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool **Certified organic

Verdict: Created by a colleague and fellow naturopathic doctor Alexis Reid, Eco Chic Movement is a Toronto based company that sprouted up in 2012.  This is a highly moisturizing cream that is especially good for those looking for a non-scented, non-irritating natural product. 

In this formulation I especially like the use of:
  • Rosehip Oil: Naturally high in essential fatty acids and vitamin C this free radical fighting oil helps keep skin hydrated, glowing and looking young.
  • Avocado Oil: obviously the avocado lover in me would pick this (you do know what blog you’re on right?!) But it’s a top choice for good reason - not only is avocado oil a great source of vitamin E and essential fatty acids, it has the ability to retain water and act as an emollient to promote soft and supple tissue to boot! 

Ingredients: Water, Rose damascena (Rose) Floral Water, Aloe barbadensis Leaf Juice, Persea Americana (Avocado) Oil, Rosa rubiginosa (Rosehip) Oil, Vegetable Emulsifying Wax, Vegetable Glycerin, Hydrolyzed Silk Protein, Cetyl Alcohol, Yeast Extract (Pseudocollagen), Allantoin, Panthenol, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Benzyl Alcohol, Salicylic Acid, Sorbic Acid

The two most common questions I often get asked are the following:

  • Q: Is there a difference between daytime and nighttime creams?
    • A: Often the biggest difference is that daytime creams may contain SPF (which is great!) and sometimes nighttime creams may contain higher concentrations of ingredients like Vitamin A which could potentially make your skin more photosensitive (which makes sense that it would be better to put on at night!).  Other than that I’m not convinced that there is that much difference between the two.  Make sure you do a good investigation of the ingredient list and choose which cream ultimately is better suited for your skin.

  • Q: Is it necessary to use an under-eye cream as well as a normal moisturizer? 
    • A: In my opinion there is more “smoke-and-mirrors” by marketing from skin care companies trying to convince you that you may need an under eye cream due to a lack of oil producing glands in the under eye area.  This article does a pretty good job of summarizing my thoughts - the bottom line being that although some decent under eye formulations may help puff up the area and reduce bags/dark circles a tiny bit, they are not a cure all.  A good quality overall moisturizer is all you really need combined with a good nights sleep and a nice big jug of water!
What are your favourite natural moisturizers? We would love to know! 

May the moisture be with you!


A long time athlete and health advocate,  Dr. Kumentas’ goal is to help her patients become excited about making positive lifestyle choices in order to enjoy healthier, happier lives.  Her driving force is a passion for healing the whole person on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level using carefully selected natural therapies, fitness, and integrated medicine.  She truly believes in the importance of practising what you preach and investing in your health.  
Dr. Nadia Kumentas practices at Zen Beginnings Wellness Centre in Toronto and has a special interest in dermatology, woman’s health, and pain management.

To learn more about Dr. Nadia Kumentas visit or contact her at

4. Montagna W, Kligman AM, Carlisle KS. New York: Springer; 1992. Atlas of normal human skin; pp. 7–19.


Anonymous said...

Any suggestions on how to make your own? Then we could control exactly what is in the creme !

N. Kumentas said...

Hi Anonymous!

Thanks for reading - although I am an avid DIY serum maker, I have yet to make my own cream based moisturizer. There are so many good formulations out there I’ve decided to leave that to the pro’s! However, stay tuned for my next post on serums for some DIY ideas and suggestions!

Take care,

Anonymous said...

Would you be doing reviews on any face oils or serums (oil based) sometime?
I am into oils so it would be amazing to hear what would be your choices!
Thank you.

funtoosh said...

very helpful article

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Wilhelm Duncan said...

I always thought that all the skin care thing is only for women who are obsessed with their beauty. Then I grew up and our society grew up too, at least in my opinion. Girls were beautiful for all time sake, at least they need to be. When it comes to guys, they needed to be only a little bit better than monkeys in term of beauty. Now we have well-groomed guys there and here and I don’t even talking about gays. At last, beauty is available for both sexes now! Still it’s more about women but we are close to have society full of Greek Gods everywhere. I did read couple Marvelous essays about this theme, you should try it to.

Cream Wajah Liyoskin said...

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