Eczema Tips

Selection of Moisturizer (II) – Moisturizer and Ingredients

Last week, we’ve covered the 10 Moisturizer Selection Tips. This week, (as promised!), I’ve compiled ingredient listing for common moisturizers found in pharmacy (in Singapore/Asia as some brands are marketed under different brand names in the US/UK).

There are broadly 3 generations of moisturizers:

1st, 2nd and 3rd generation moisturizers - Pros and Cons
1st, 2nd and 3rd generation moisturizers – Pros and Cons

1st generation moisturizers are occlusive – these act as a layer to prevent transepidermal water loss (TEWL). These ingredients are petrolatum, mineral oil, paraffin and triglycerides. Creams/ointments with higher concentration of these are sometimes termed ‘intensive’, ‘suitable for very dry skin’ as the ointment does not evaporate as quickly as lotion but it often leaves a stain on clothing or doesn’t feel as comfortable as lotion.

2nd generation moisturizers are humectant – these are sometimes referred to having natural moisturizing factors (NMFs) as they can pull moisture from the environment to the upper layer of skin (and also from inner layer of skin to the upper layer). These ingredients include glycerin, hyaluronic acid, sodium salt of pyrrolidone carboxylic acid, sorbitol, lecithin, panthenol, salicornia extract, amino acids and urea.

3rd generation moisturizers have skin repair properties – often a combination of both occlusive and humectant, these moisturizers include ingredients that help to repair the skin barrier, either by replacing lost skin components (ceramides and skin lipids) or reduce inflammation, itch and bacterial activity.

A moisturizer’s quality is also dependent on how well it delivers these properties (stability and structure) and what ingredients it does not have (which are allergens). Safety and product quality control are also important considerations.

Let’s zoom into the ingredient list of the below common moisturizers and see what we can understand they contain!

Brands Ingredients Irritants Free from Irritants/ pH
Aqueous cream

Functions: Occlusive

Number of ingredients: 7

Liquid Paraffin 6% w/w, White Soft Paraffin 15% w/w, purified water, emulsifying wax (containing cetostearyl alcohol, sodium lauryl sulfate), chlorocresol 0.1% w/w Sodium lauryl sulfate, Cetostearyl alcohol, Paraffin may irritate Free from perfume, propylene glycol, lanolin, colorpH 6.5 to 7.5
QV cream

Functions: Occlusive, Humectant

Number of ingredients: 14

Aqua (Water), Paraffinum Liquidum, Glycerin, Petrolatum, Cetearyl Alcohol, Squalane, Dimethicone, Ceteth-20, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Stearic Acid, Laureth-3, Glyceryl Stearate, Methylparaben, Dichlorobenzyl Alcohol Parabens, Dichlorobenzyl alcohol (preservatives that kill microbes so that product won’t spoil before expiry), Paraffin, petrolatum, Cetearyl alcohol may irritate Free from perfume, propylene glycol, lanolin, color

pH 6

QV Intensive Moisturiser

Functions: Occlusive, Humectant

Number of ingredients: 7

Aquaphor Healing Ointment

Functions: Occlusive, Humectant (bisabolol enhance healing)

Number of ingredients: 7

QV Intensive Moisturizer

Light Liquid Paraffin (Paraffinum Liquidum), Petrolatum, Isopropyl Myristate, Polyethylene, Cetearyl Alcohol, Silica, Dimethicone

Aquaphor Healing Ointment

Petrolatum (41%), Mineral Oil, Ceresin, Lanolin Alcohol, Panthenol, Glycerin, Bisabolol

Polyethylene, silica (mineral oil) may irritateLanolin QV

Free from perfume, propylene glycol, lanolin, lanolin, paraben, colorpH not disclosed


Free from perfume, propylene glycol, paraben, color

pH not disclosed

Physiogel AI cream

Functions: Occlusive, humectant, repair

Number of ingredients: 16

Aqua, Olea Europaea Fruit Oil, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Olus Oil, Elaeis Guineensis Oil, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Squalane, Betaine, Palmitamide MEA (PEA), Sarcosine, Acetamide MEA, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Carbomer, Sodium Carbomer, Xanthan Gum Free from perfume, propylene glycol, lanolin, paraben, colorpH not disclosed
Physiogel Daily Moisture Therapy Cream

Functions: Occlusive, humectant, repair

Number of ingredients: 13






Cerave Moisturizing Cream

Functions: Occlusive, humectant, repair

Number of ingredients: 25


Aqua, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Cocos Nucifera Oil, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Squalane, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Carbomer, Ceramide 3


Purified Water, Glycerin, Ceteareth-20 and Cetearyl Alcohol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6-II, Ceramide 1, Hyaluronic Acid, Cholesterol, Petrolatum, Dimethicone, Potassium Phosphate, Dipotassium Phosphate, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Phytosphingosine, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum

Cetearyl Alcohol, petrolatum, parabens Physogel

Free from perfume, propylene glycol, lanolin, paraben, color

pH not disclosed








Free from perfume, propylene glycol, lanolin, color

pH not disclosed

Cetaphil moisturizing cream

Functions: Occlusive, humectant

Number of ingredients: 20

Water, glycerin, petrolatum, dicaprylyl ether, dimethicone, glyceryl stearate, Cetearyl alcohol, prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond) oil, PEG-30 stearate, tocopheryl acetate, acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, dimethiconol, benzyl alcohol, phenoxyethanol, methylparaben, propylparaben, glyceryl acrylate/acrylic acid copolymer, propylene glycol, disodium EDTA, sodium hydroxide Parabens, propylene glycol, Benzyl alcohol is a natural grape preservative and scent, Petrolatum, cetearyl alcohol may irritate, Sodium hydroxide is to modulate pH of product and can be an irritant Free from lanolin, colorpH not disclosed
Cetaphil intensive moisturizing cream

Functions: Occlusive, humectant, repair

Shea butter is a plant lipid, Chlorhexidine to reduce bacteria

Number of ingredients: 15


Water, glycerin, PEG-2 stearate, cetearyl alcohol, Butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, oleth-12, dimethicone, stearyl alcohol, glyceryl stearate, PEG-100 stearate, methylparaben, tocopherol, arginine PCA, chlorhexidine digluconate Parabens, Cetearyl alcohol may irritate Free from lanolin, propylene glycol, fragrancepH not disclosed
Cetaphil RestoraDerm Eczema Calming Body Lotion

Functions: Occlusive, humectant, repair

Number of ingredients: 28

Water, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Helianthus Annus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Pentylene Glycol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Sorbitol, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cetearyl Alcohol, Behenyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Hydroxypalmitoyl Sphinganine, Niacinamide, Allantoin, Panthenol, Arginine, Disodium Ethylene Dicocamide PEG-15 Disulfate, Glyceryl Stearate Citrate, Sodium PCA, Ceteareth-20, Sodium Polyacrylate, Caprylyl Glycol, Citric Acid, Dimethiconol, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Hyaluronate, Cetyl Alcohol Cetearyl alcohol may irritate Free from perfume, lanolin, propylene glycol, paraben, colorpH not disclosed
Ezerra cream

Functions: Occlusive, humectant, repair (contain antihistamine for itch relief)

Number of ingredients: 17

Water, Oleic/Linoleic Triglyceride, Saccharide Isomerate, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Pentaerythrityl Distearate, Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Spent Grain Wax, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter) Extract, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Stearyl Glutamate, Acrylates/ C10-C30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Ethylhexylglycerin, Octadecyl Di-t-butyl-4-hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Disodium EDTA Cetearyl Alcohol may irritate Free from perfume, lanolin, paraben, propylene glycol, colorpH not disclosed

MarcieMom’s take:

On 1st generation moisturizer – The low cost emollient tend to perform mainly occlusive function, with ingredients such as petrolatum, paraffin and emulsifying agent to thicken the moisturizer. If you don’t have sensitive skin, or patch tested not to be affected by these ingredients, basic creams can help prevent moisture loss. However, if you have eczema skin, it is not suitable as these mosturizers tend to be more alkaline than our skin pH and the ingredients may irritate your skin. There is also no ingredient in these creams to help repair your skin barrier.

Pros: Low cost, perform basic occlusive function

Cons: Irritate sensitive skin, drying for skin for alkaline products, no skin barrier repair function

On 2nd generation moisturizer – If water is the first ingredient, it is likely that preservatives have to be used to keep the product from spoiling. Paraben is the ingredient that has received a lot of negative press due to its linkage with cancer. This is not proven but paraben is one of the more common irritants. Other names for parabens from (Derm Net NZ) are:

Benzyl-parahydroxybenzoate (p-hydroxybenzoate)
Methyl-parahydroxybenzoate (p-hydroxybenzate)
Ethyl-parahydroxybenzoate (p-hydroxybenzoate)
Propyl-parahydroxybenzoate (p-hydroxybenzoate)
Butyl-parahydroxybenzoate (p-hydroxybenzoate)
Parahydroxybenzoate (p-hydroxybenzoate)

I like to look at the number of ingredients and the absence of common irritants when comparing second generation moisturizer. For the same price range, I’d prefer to choose one with fewer ingredients and less irritants to reduce likelihood of irritating my eczema child’s skin. Another way is to rotate your moisturizer (in the hope!) to reduce the duration which your skin is exposed to the irritant.

Pros: Hydrate skin, some brands are affordable

Cons: Granted for the price range, you may not get ingredients like ceramides, lipids that repair your skin. But don’t choose one with many ingredients or irritants.

On 3rd generation moisturizer – These more costly moisturizers are less likely to have irritants (still check though, don’t take for granted!) but whether it is worth the price is another matter. % of ingredients is not listed and the stability of how long the reparative function last is not known. Personally, I use these on weeks where my child’s skin tend to be persistently dry or itchy despite moisturizing regularly with 1st & 2nd generation moisturizer.

Pros: Repair skin

Cons: Cost prohibitive + paying so much means you want to be sure that ingredients are not common irritants

I have to admit that this post is a very amateur attempt to analyse skincare products. Many websites that specialize in skincare products do a much better job, such as Paula’s Choice and EWG’s Skin Deep. What I hope to have helped is a way for lay(mom and dad) to make sense of products’ ingredient list and choose a better product for your child. I’d be contacting the brands mentioned in this post and see if they have more to add on their products. (If you don’t see updates or comments in this post, it means the brands mentioned have not responded.)

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