The 9 Best Occlusive Moisturizers for Dry, Dehydrated Skin

Don't let your moisture evaporate.
Brand courtesy / @Josiemaran
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Before hunting for the best occlusive moisturizer, there are a few things you should consider. Occlusives are moisture sealers, and it might seem like everybody can use them. But is that right?

Indeed, moisturizer is non-negotiable no matter the skin type or time of the day. The skin needs moisture to function optimally, keep the protective barrier integer, and stay healthy and dewy. But with so many formulas out there, it’s challenging to make the right pick for you. While some products pull water from the air and bind it to the skin (humectants), others fill cracked spaces between cells with fatty substances (emollients). The third category, occlusives, includes moisturizers that form a barrier that traps water in the skin, preventing transepidermal water loss (TEWL).

Knowing when, how and in what circumstances to use the different types of moisturizers is the key to resilient skin. That’s why today’s focus stays on the best occlusives and whether or not you should use one.

What is an occlusive moisturizer?

Occlusive moisturizers create a barrier that inhibits the skin from losing moisture, physically blocking water loss. Not only do they seal water in, but also have a role in smoothing and softening the complexion. On top of that, the best occlusive moisturizers include ingredients meant to mimic the skin’s natural lipid barrier, repairing and shielding the complexion from external aggressors like pollution, wind, and other irritants. 

Which are the best occlusive moisturizers?

The best occlusive moisturizers include petroleum jelly, dimethicone, castor and jojoba oils, shea and cocoa butter, waxes, and squalane. They all work by forming a protective layer on the skin’s surface to prevent moisture loss. 

Who can use occlusive moisturizers

The key to settling on the right moisturizer starts with understanding what your skin needs in the first place. While humectants work best for oily, acne-prone and mature types, emollients for damaged, cracked skin, occlusives do best for people with dehydrated, irritated skin or those struggling with conditions like eczema or compromised barrier.

Who should steer clear from occlusive moisturizers

In general, people with oily or acne-prone skin should avoid heavy occlusive moisturizers because these create a physical film on the surface, being more likely to clog pores and increase the chances of pimples appearing. Instead, oily and acne-prone skin should use non-comedogenic formulas containing squalane and dimethicone, as these occlusives don’t block the pores and don’t have a greasy feeling.

How to apply occlusive moisturizers

By their nature, occlusive moisturizers tend to be heavy. After you have cleansed your complexion and applied the serum, slather your occlusive moisturizer on. Because moisturizers with occlusives coat the skin, pretty much what you apply after won’t penetrate the skin as effectively. Hence, you need to layer your occlusive moisturizer as the last step in your routine.

The best occlusive moisturizers

These are the best occlusive moisturizers to repair your skin, replenish moisture, and rebuild your protective barrier ASAP.


The Best Occlusive Moisturizer

SkinCeuticals Hydra Balm

This hydrating occlusive ointment addresses traumatized and severely dry skin, so it’s a great pick if your complexion is prone to irritations. It’s made with a base of pure petrolatum to form a barrier that seals moisture in, plus aloe and bisabolol to relieve dry patches and calm roughness. Besides, it’s infused with rosehip oil and squalane, known for their regenerative and hydration-locking properties. Now you know why SkinCeuticals Hydra Balm is worth the first spot on the best occlusive moisturizer list.


Elta MD Occlusive Moisturizer

Elta MD Intense Moisturizer

Incredibly, this moisturizer is formulated with only two ingredients: petrolatum, the most effective occlusive known, and paraffin, a derivative of petrolatum, also an occlusive. By applying this occlusive moisturizer on damp skin daily, you help hinder TEWL for up to 12 hours. It’s an intensive treatment that works ideally to soothe inflamed, irritated, sunburned, flaky, or post-procedure skin. And on top of everything, Elta MD Intense Moisturizer lacks water, fragrances, alcohol, or anything that could disturb the protective barrier, it’s non-comedogenic and waterproof.


Paula's Choice Calm Restoring Moisturizer

Paula’s Choice Calm Restoring Moisturizer

Paula’s Choice Calm Restoring Moisturizer uses three of the best-known occlusives, aka petrolatum, jojoba oil, and squalane, in addition to vitamin E and ceramide, wheat proteins, and sodium hyaluronate. They all work synergistically to relieve dryness, repair, and soften rough patches while antioxidants defend against free radical damage. It’s that moisturizer that even sensitive or rosacea-prone skin types can use without worrying about irritations. Additionally, the cream aims to plump fine lines and wrinkles, ease redness, and replenish moisture.


CeraVe Healing Ointment

CeraVe Healing Ointment

With Cera VE Healing Ointment, your thirsty skin is left smooth and dewy. The formula packs 46.5% petrolatum, which says a lot about its occlusive properties. Moreover, it’s made with three types of ceramides known to form a waterproof seal on the skin’s surface and prevent loss of hydration. Vitamin E and hyaluronic acid are added to make the formula even more hydrating and calming. It’s the best choice for dry, cracked, and chafed skin, and breakout-prone skin can use it, too, as it’s non-comedogenic.


Josie Maran Whipped Argan Oil Face Butter

Josie Maran Whipped Argan Oil Face Butter

You already know argan oil is an excellent occlusive. And so is shea butter. Well, Josie Maran’s face butter boasts a generous amount of these skin goodies, as well as squalane, making it one of the best occlusive moisturizers out there. Its texture is a lightweight, oil-powered cream that seals moisture and feeds your skin with nutrient-rich aloe juice, cucumber, and melon extracts. It’s an ideal pick for dryness, redness, fine lines, and wrinkles that works for all skin types. 


Biossance Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer

Biossance Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer

Quench your thirsty skin with this juicy gel moisturizer infused with a high concentration of squalane, a potent occlusive. Biossance Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer sinks in within seconds and leaves behind a soft, velvety feeling wrapping your complexion in a cocoon of moisture. Plus, it’s made with probiotics, ginger, and red seaweed to balance and calm the skin and reduce redness. Choose this one if you fancy organic skincare. It’s a good pick for oily skin folks too.


L'Occitane Ultra-Rich Comforting Cream

L’Occitane Ultra-Rich Comforting Cream

Made with 25% organic shea butter, this ultra-rich moisturizer creates an invisible film layer that leaves skin supple, soft, and defended against external damage. More than that, it features dimethicone, another popular occlusive that locks moisture in, hindering TEWL. Bonus points as it has protective and nourishing benefits thanks to a blend of gentle extracts — chestnut seed, sunflower seed oil, and vitamin E.


Farmacy Honey Halo Ceramide Face Moisturizer

Farmacy Honey Halo Moisturizer

This product has what it takes to be one of the best occlusive moisturizers. It’s enriched with two important occlusives, shea butter and royal jelly, ceramides (that technically is not occlusive but works like one), and honey, a natural humectant that draws water into the skin. Farmacy Honey Halo Moisturizer was created to replenish dry skin while bringing in hydration that lasts and plump fine lines look. All in a clean, Planet-positive, and cruelty-free formula.


Uriage Thermal Water Rich Water Cream

Uriage Thermal Water Rich Water Cream

The ingredient list in this cream is at least promising, starting with thermal water followed by shea butter, dimethicone, and squalane. In other words, it packs the best of the best occlusives. Besides these moisture-sealing agents, there is meadowfoam seed oil, urea, and vitamin E, all known emollients that keep the complexion soft and supple. The formula is hypoallergenic and nourishes the skin into deeper layers for a moisturized appearance that lasts all day.

Who wrote this?
Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu
Ana is a sociologist and feminist with a shared passion for literature, psychology, and skincare, the combo that made her determined to start Women's Concepts. With over five years of experience in dermatological research, she has now become a certified skincare consultant keen to convince others of the importance of a diligent routine. Her close relationships with dermatologists around the globe, along with years of researching, analyzing studies, and hand-testing products on a daily basis, made Ana one of the best persons you can get advice from.
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