How do emollients in a moisturizer work?

Emollients, such as lanolin, jojoba oil, isopropyl palmitate, propylene glycol linoleate, squalene, and glycerol stearates, act as lubricants on the surface to fill in the crevices between cells ready to shed, thus helping the loose edges of dead skin cells adhere together. They help keep the skin soft, smooth, pliable. The slippery feeling you get after applying a moisturizer is most likely coming from the emollient.

From The Mind-Beauty Connection: 9 Days to Less Stress, Gorgeous Skin, and a Whole New You by Amy Wechsler.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Emollients fill in the gaps and cracks in skin's surface with droplets of oil, providing a smoothing and softening effect. Some emollients also absorb into skin's surface layers, helping to replenish moisture.

Continue Learning about Moisturizer Ingredients

Why is it important to have an emollient in a moisturizer?
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MDDr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Emollients are used to leave the skin feeling smooth. They fill in crevices between skin cells, givi...
More Answers
What ingredients should I look for in an after shaving moisturizer?
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MDDr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Look for moisturizing products that are non comedogenic, meaning they won't clog pores. 
More Answers
What skin moisturizer ingredients can help keep my skin healthy?
Ben KaminskyBen Kaminsky
Normal skin still needs special attention to ensure that it remains balanced. It is important to...
More Answers
What are oil-in-water moisturizers?
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MDDr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Oil-in-water moisturizers are those in which water is the dominant carrier. Since these formulations...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.