Occlusives: A Follow-Up

edited November 2014 in Ask the Beauty Brains
Hello fellow nerds,

I posted a comment on "Should I Pat My Face With Water Before Applying Oil?", but there was no reply. Since then I have had some more related questions pile up, so here they are:

1. If we know that a quick "pat" of water is useless for bringing moisture to the skin, how long does it take for skin to become sufficiently hydrated in the presence of water? Is soap necessary to remove any preexisting skin occlusives?

2. Secondly, Randy responds with: "Creams and lotions are designed to deliver oil WITH water so you lock in the deeper moisture that's already in your skin AND get a quick hit of surface moisture from the water in the lotion." I do not understand how this is any different from wetting skin prior to applying an occlusive; in both cases water is being brought to the skin. Is there something special about a true emulsion in how it delivers water to the skin? If so, how does it work?

3. Finally, and more importantly, is an oil or oil/wax combination (i.e., mineral oil, or petrolatum) really better for skin health long-term? I know that in the world of leather care, there is debate on the practical usage of conditioners that contain beeswax, versus those that have a non-greasy formula. The idea here is that waxes and oils used on leather/skin end up attracting environmental dirt and dust because they are inherently sticky, thus causing more of a problem than the occlusive solution they solve. For leather, this means a gradual break-down of the fibers due to the abrasive quality of dirt, and for skin the greater possibility of blocked pores (even with a non-comedogenic substance such as petrolatum). So does an oil/wax used on the skin present a problem of blocking pores because of their dirt attraction properties, or is this just a theory of mine?

Sorry for the wall of text. As always, I am out to understand exactly how something works. Looking forward to the discussion!


  • I responded to Wade's questions (and he responded to my response) but our backup file was corrupted so we lost the last few posts. 
  • I think your response to my questions was most valuable. It's a shame though that this forum is so unstable. :(
  • We're trying to upgrade the software so hopefully that will fix the problem!
  • I'm really interested in the answer to this question as well! last year I went on a 6 month long experiment to find a good, plain oil (or mix of a few) to use as a simple nighttime moisturizer. I tried about five different oils including all the basics like jojoba, grapeseed, apricot, etc.  the conclusion was that nothing seemed to work as well as my store bought cream. 
  • That's because the oils you tried are good emollients (they make skin feel smooth) but they're not as good at locking in moisture as a fully formulated cream which contains not only emollients but other ingredients that seal moisture in the skin.  
  • Amy—try straight petroleum jelly after a shower and see if you are lacking moisture... It may feel a little more greasy than you are accustomed to, but it works. It has never let me down, even through stark Ohioan winters.
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