what is water-based moisturizer? what is water moisturizer? best water based moisturizers

We’re back with another segment of “The Truth in Skincare”! This time, I want to focus on water-based skincare products, in particular moisturizers, which are becoming more and more popular in retail displays, TV ads, and social media. As always, I would like to begin with few basics so you and I are on the same page.

  • Cosmetic ingredients are listed in descending order using their standard names (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients), with the most active on top and least at the bottom. Ergo, if a product is hyping on a “miracle ingredient” that will do wonders to your skin but it is sandwiched somewhere in the middle or last, you are not really paying for the “miracle”. Informed decision is always better than impulse purchase.
  • Water comprises about 60%-70% of the human body. Each cell in the body depends on water to thrive. Water serves several vital functions such as controlling body temperature, delivering oxygen, flushing out toxins, keeping the skin moist, among others.
  • There is really no definitive study that will support long-term effects of chugging water on the skin (remember 8 glasses a day which I’m sure you heard from your mom or grandma back in the day, I do!) but given the importance of water (and hyaluronic acid) which nourish collagen (found in the dermis which supports skin’s structure), this genius interplay does make the skin look plump, hydrated and youthful.
  • But as with other physical changes that go with aging, the skin’s water-binding capacity also declines. This moisture loss leads to cracks, susceptibility to injury and prominence of  wrinkles. This alongside lifestyle (smoking, drinking) and years of unprotected sun exposure can lead to premature occurrence of wrinkles.

Given all the amazing capabilities of good old H20, should we abandon our present skincare regimen and turn to all things water-based like what you see in TV ads (i.e Neutrogena Hydro Boost? Why is it even called water moisturizer? Marketing is all about product positioning. Put water (or anything synonymous) beside it and it will sell. Okay, can I briefly ask you to read the ingredients in your current moisturizer? is water, aqua, or even purified water listed first? If yes, then it’s a water-based skincare product which works best for oily, normal and combination skin. You’d be surprised that most beauty products have water in them because it primarily acts as a solvent, meaning it is used to dissolve all other ingredients thrown in the mix. It also acts as an emulsifier for creams and lotions; the thinner the formula, the more water in it, the thicker the formula, the more oil in it. Oil-in-water means there’s more water hence the consistency is lighter. Water-in-oil means there is more of the latter which makes the moisturizer thicker in terms of consistency. Ergo, it’s all about the ratio.

Here are my favorite “water-based” skincare products. Note that it’s the combination of ingredients that make me like them and not so much on the marketing hype that is water.

press samples, own purchase, affiliate links provided below

what is water-based moisturizer? what is water moisturizer? best water based moisturizers

Tatcha Pore Perfecting Water Gel Moisturizer. Company description: “ultralight moisturizer which refreshes, clarifies, and balances skin. Designed for makeup lovers and those with oily skin types, it absorbs quickly with a petal-fresh finish that lasts all day. The formula features Japanese wild rose to visibly tighten pores after 28 days of regular use. It also contains Japanese dokudami and leopard lilly, known for their abilities to diminish shine and the appearance of blemishes. A hint of 23-karat gold dust gives skin instant radiance with a shine-free glow.

Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Propanediol, Rosa Multiflora Fruit Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Inositol (Rice Extract), Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Sophora Angustifolia Root Extract, Belamcanda Chinensis Root Extract, Houttuynia Cordata Extract, Sericin (Silk Extract), Stearyl Glycyrrhetinate (Licorice), Algae Extract, Gold, Hydrogenated Lecithin (Soy Origin), Squalane (Olive Origin), Lecithin, Pistacia Lentiscus (Mastic) Gum, Sodium Dilauramidoglutamide Lysine, Mica, Silica, Xanthan Gum, Bispeg- 18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Ammonium Acryloyl Dimethyltaurate/Carboxyethyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Hdi/ Trimethylol Hexyllactone Crosspolymer, Polyglyceryl-10 Myristate, Disodium EDTA, Tin Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Peg-400, Bht, Butylene Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol.

Why I like it: It acts as a humectant which draws and retains water with a healthy mix of natural ingredients in between. While it does not reduce the size of pores, it makes skin feel a little taut. The hint of gold does not translate to glitter ball madness but enough to illuminate a dull-looking face. 

belif The true cream aqua bomb. Company description: “ultra-lightweight, mineral oil-free gel-cream that instantly cools and refreshes skin while providing intensive hydration. This formula contains a blend of apothecary herbs, including antioxidant-rich lady’s mantle, which helps neutralize skin-damaging free radicals, improves skin elasticity, and minimizes the appearances of pores. This refreshing cream is formulated to ‘burst’ when applied, releasing a flood of weightless moisture onto skin, and then absorb completely for a healthy, smooth, supple appearance”.

Ingredients: Water, Dipropylene Glycol, Glycerin, Methl Trimethicone, Alcohol Denat, Dimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, 1,2-Hexanediol, Malakite Extract, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate, PEG/PPG/Polybutylene Glycol-8/5/3 Glycerin, Alchemilla Vulgaris Leaf Extract*, Equisetum Arvense Leaf Extract*, Stellaria Media (Chickweed) Extract*, Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Leaf Extract*, Plantago Lanceolata Leaf Extract*, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract**, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract**, Nepeta Cataria Extract**, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Leaf Extract**, Baptisia Tinctoria Root Extract**, Dimethiconol, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Sodium Acrylate/Acryloyldimethyltaurate/Dimethylacrylamide Crosspolymer, Isohexadecane, Polysorbate 60, Ceramide 3, Cholesterol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Phenl Trimethicone, Pentaerythrityl Tetraisostearate, Panthenol, Squalane, Triethylhexanoin, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, PEG-150, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, C14-22 Alcohols, Arachidyl Glucoside, Hydrogenated Lecithin, PEG-100 Stearate, Stearic Acid, Glyceryl Stearate, Carbomer, Tromethamine, Trisodium EDTA, Fragrance+, Citronellol, Limonene, Citral, Geraniol, Linalool.

Why I like it: Save for the superbly-written and excellent use of marketing proposition, this is another humectant which doubles as a primer (dimethicone, cyclopentasiloxane) which is good in “blurring out” pores albeit temporarily. I like to use under a full-coverage makeup.

Lather Cucumber & Ginseng Facial Mist. Company description: “a wonderful complement to any of our face washes, this gentle, alcohol-free facial mist has cucumber, ginseng and algae extracts. While cucumber and algae extracts help refresh and tone the skin, ginseng helps to strengthen and revitalize for a fresh look. It can be used after cleansing, after shaving and throughout the day to soothe, refresh and tone the skin”. 

Ingredients: water (aqua), propanediol , algae rodophycea extract, panax ginseng extract, aloe barbadensis extract, foeniculum vulgare (fennel) extract, cucumis sativus (cucumber) extract, hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) extract, ascorbic acid, retinyl acetate, cucumis sativus (cucumber) oil, vetiveria zizanoides (vetiver) oil, cananga odorata (ylang ylang) oil, polysorbate 20, phenoxyethanol, potassium sorbate, ethylhexylglycerin, tetrasodium edit.

Why I like it: this is a great mist to tote around when you’re out and about or whenever you feel that your face is dehydrated. Dehydrated is not the same as dry although most often than not, they are used interchangeably. Dry skin lacks oil resulting to cracked and tight-feeling sensation. While dry skin is exacerbated during colder months, it is practically present year-round hence you need constant moisturization. Dehydrated skin lacks water, it is present on all skin-types, even more common on oily skin because our body compensates to produce oil in response to lack of water. If you’re face feels “tight” underneath despite the sebum/oil breakthrough, chances are your skin is dehydrated. It takes a lot of understanding to really “understand” what’s going on behind the scene so when in doubt, a mist that is alcohol-free like Lather makes sense.

derma e Hydrating Day Cream. Company description: “thoroughly moisturize and plump skin to reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles with this ultra-hydrating day cream. This fine, silky formula delivers the unmatched hydrating properties of nature’s moisture magnet, Hyaluronic Acid (HA). A single molecule of HA can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water, binding moisture to help plump, soften, smooth, tone and rehydrate skin. Enriched with anti-aging antioxidants Green Tea, Vitamins C and E, and soothing Aloe, this formula helps defend skin from free radicals and the effects of the environment. Ideal for dry, dehydrated skin that needs long-lasting moisture throughout the day, this creamdelivers maximum hydration while helping diminish the signs of aging for softer, smoother, younger-looking skin. 100% vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free, mineral oil-free, lanolin-free, gluten free, GMO-free”.

Ingredients: Purified Water, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Plant Derived), Glycerin (Vegetable Derived) , Stearic Acid (Vegetable Derived), Glyceryl Stearate SE, Cetyl Alcohol (Plant Derived) , Glyceryl Stearate Citrate (Vegetable Derived), Sodium Hyaluronate (Hyaluronic Acid; Actimoist® Bio-1), Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C Ester), Panthenol (Provitamin B5), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Xanthan Gum, Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A), Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Organic Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Gel Extract*, Organic Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract*, Organic Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil*, Allantoin, Polysorbate 20, Dimethicone, Titanium Dioxide, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Natural Fragrance Oils. 

Why I like it: This brand is a regular mainstay in my skincare posts because despite the lack of recognition in the online beauty community, derma e does deliver in terms of product efficacy. I like that it has sodium hyaluronate, a salt-derivative of hyaluronic acid which makes it more permeable due to its smaller molecular configuration (read truth on hyaluronic acid here). Sodium hyaluronate is excellent in moisture retention.

pur-lisse Blue Lotus Brightening Serum. Company description: “enhanced with 9 powerful plant extracts work together to visibly improve uneven skin tone, dullness, discoloration and age spots without harsh ingredients.  This hydroquinone-free formula safely delivers radiance, luminosity and clarity to complexion, while guarding against future damage”.   

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Diglycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Squalane, Trimethylpentanediol/Adipic Acid Copolymer, Tocopheryl Acetate, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Sodium Hyaluronate, Butylene Glycol, Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract, Hydrolyzed Prunus Domestica, Hydrolyzed Lupine Protein Octenylsuccinate, Alaria Esculenta Extract, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Nymphaea Coerulea Flower Extract, Biotin, Alpha-Arbutin, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Panthenol, Glycerin, Glycereth-26, Dicetyl Phosphate, Ceteth-10 Phosphate, Cetyl Alcohol, Sclerotium Gum, Aminomethyl Propanol, Disodium EDTA, Caprylyl Glycol, Chlorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol, Geraniol, Limonene, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Peel Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Cymbopogon Martini Oil, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Oil, Juniperus Mexicana Oil, Tagetes Minuta Flower Oil, Michelia Alba Flower Oil.

Why I like it: While this is not comparable to hydroquinone (prescription) in terms of reducing hyper pigmentation, this serum is very hydrating, thanks to avocado oil and combination of plant extracts which altogether help create a smooth canvass pre-makeup application. As you know, I layer skincare (more elaborate at night and a little less in the morning, stay tuned for a separate post).

I hope you enjoyed today’s skincare dissection. What topic do you want next?

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10 thoughts on “The Truth With Water-Based Skincare Products

  • I'm a big fan of the belief aqua bomb. Great post, I love your skincare series!

  • What a great, and informative, post Kath! Love this new series!

  • I LOVE this! I've been a lot more into skincare in the last year and I'm learning so much from this series! Tatcha is one of my fave brands <3

  • Great post, thanks for the info!

  • What surprises me most about these water based items is the amount of fragrance in them. It's difficult for me to smell my skincare throughout the day so I miss out on a lot of great products.

  • I prefer water-based skincare to oil- or silicone-heavy products because of acne.

  • I've got Aqua Bomb & the Tatcha Moisturizer but when I get back home, I'm checking the ingredient lists of everything. Very interesting

  • I love the derma e day cream. Thanks for all the info. Bot of my current skincare products by Hada Labo both have water as the first ingredient and they work so well for my skin.

  • I really love everything I've tried from LATHER!

  • I am a huge fan of the Derma E cream… it has done wonders for me… and I really want to get that LATHER mist – I've had my eyes on it for a little while. Sadly – I just can't get with the Tatcha, I tried it and it's the only product from the line that caused me to break out… and for some reason…I can't fix my skin now that it has… probably that product with others mixed. Thanks for sharing this info.

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