Occlusives Moisturizers and Ingredients

Occlusive moisturizers are cosmetic skin care products with ingredients that occlude (or block) the skin’s surface preventing water from evaporating off of the skin.  The pressure of the water that wants to evaporate off the skin but cannot causes a downward pressure on the skin.  This downward pressure pushes in any ingredients on the skin’s surface under the occlusive agent or ingredient. Pushing the ingredients into the skin using the pressure of an occlusive increases skin penetration of the skin care product or medication.

Occlusives do not have to be moisturizers or cosmetic products.  They are often sued to deliver drugs.  Occlusives can be oils, ointments, plastic wrap or skin patches. For example, nicotine and estrogen patches are on occlusive patches that push the medication into your skin. Saran wrap occludes the skin and increases the penetration of any medication below it. Oils on the skin are occlusive as well.  

Occlusion can also happen when one body part pushes on another.  For example, if you have large breasts, the skin under the breasts may occlude the skin at the top of the rib cage.  This also happens under the arms and in the groin area.  This is why these areas can get rashes to certain products- because the allergens get pushed into the skin by occlusion (the pressure of the skin upon other skin)..

How Do Occlusives Work?

Occlusive ingredients, patches or plastic wraps have several functions:

  1.  Hydrate the skin by preventing evaporation of water off the skin
  2. Prevent evaporation of any medication or skin care product on the skin
  3. Push ingredients or medications into the skin
  4. Protect the skin from friction
  5. Protect the skin from excessively cold temperatures
  6. Speed wound healing by keeping the wound wet and growth factors on the skin’s surface

Some occlusive agents work better than others. The size and material of the occlusive play a large role in determining its effectiveness of the occlusive. A thick plastic for example would occlude more than a thin hydrocolloid dressing. In skincare, larger molecules tend to occlude better than smaller molecules.

However, skincare products with larger occlusive molecules tend to be thick and difficult to spread on your skin. For this reason, occlusives are often formulated in skincare products with other ingredients to help make them more spreadable and convenient to use.

Vaseline and Aquaphor are well known occlusives.  There is a new skin care trend in to use Vaseline, Aquaphor and other ointments or oils on top of skincare products to “slug” the skin.  Slugging the skin means increasing the penetration of skincare ingredients. Click here to learn more about how to use occlusive ingredients to slug the skin.

What Are Some Examples Of Occlusive Ingredients In Skincare?

  • Argan oil
  • Beeswax
  • Borage Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Emu Oil
  • Jojoba oil
  • Lanolin
  • Mineral oil
  • Olive oil
  • Petrolatum
  • Safflower oil
  • Tamanu oil

Mineral oil and petrolatum are two of the most effective occlusive ingredients and have been sued as effective moisturizers for many decades. Petrolatum and mineral oil are petrochemical byproducts made from crude oil production, so they have an impact on the environment.undefined

More eco-friendly occlusive agents are oils such as argan oil, jojoba oil, or safflower oil. 

Olive oil is often used as an occlusive on the skin, but it is rich in the fatty acid oleic acid, which can create tiny holes in your skin and therefore damage your skin’s natural barrier. Argan oil is a much better option, as it is high in the fatty acid linoleic acid, which can help to repair the skin barrier and reduce inflammation. Click here to learn more about fatty acids in skin care.

Which Occlusive Ingredients Are Best For Your Baumann Skin Type®?

The best occlusive ingredients for you depend upon what barriers to skin health you have. The best way to answer this question is to take the free skin type quiz here.  It takes 3-5 minutes and once you complete the quiz and use your email to start an account, you will receive skin care routine recommendations that are right for your skin type.  You will eb able to choose from multiple products that have been tested on others with the same skin type as you.  You will know exactly which occlusive moisturizers and oils are best for your Baumann Skin Type.  And if you decide to slug your skin, you can follow the steps found at this link using products from your recommended skincare routine.

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